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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Trader Joe's Cannelés De Bordeaux

Let's take a coffee break, shall we?

No, not more coffee, as inviting as that sounds. If you haven't been paying attention to the blog recently, it's been all on up on coffee products. I'd mention them, but there's too many....just take a look over on the right sidebar under posts from this month going back.

I mean, an actual break from anything coffee related. It's a good thing, and we're all gonna need it. More on that...later.

Although, let's be honest, taking a look at the picture on the box of Trader Joe's Cannelés De Bordeaux, that'd go well with a cup of coffee, right? Imagine that served alongside a steamy cafe au lait or cappucino or whatever at some sidewalk café. Looks fancy. Has a fancy name. Has gots to be fancy, right?


So boxed fourpack come with the little French delights already fully baked, just frozen. To prepare, either thaw for 20 minutes (who's got time for that?) or nuke in the microwave for 20 seconds. We went the nuclear option. Twenty seconds didn't seem enough, the pastries were still cool to the touch. So another 20 seconds, and then, you know, 20 more just for the heck of it. Even after all that, the cannelés were still cool and clammy to the touch. Oh well. Time for a bite...

"Carmelized on the outside" is one way of putting it. Hard and dense with a suggestion of crispy carmelization is another. It was definitely tougher and chewier than anticipated. And the insides weren't much better. Sandy and I have a disagreement over what the word "custardy" should imply. She thinks it ought to mean creamy, like custard cream/creme. I stick more to the true meaning of custard, meaning a dish with eggs, milk, flavoring and sugar, baked until set, so cakelike except spongey. But we both agreed that the innards didn't match our hopes. Cool, dense, but fairly pleasantly (if unevenly) vanilla-esque. Think more my interpretation of custardy for sure.

Sandy disliked hers to a great degree. She plots and plans her treats all day long, and had sacrificed some ice cream so she could eat one cannelé in all of its 120-calorie glory. Very pouty afterwards. She gave it a two. I'll go a little higher, but not much.....but I'll be willing to be wrong here. If you like them, and have a recommended suggestion on how to optimize the thawout process to ensure its utmost tastiness, I'm all ears. We have two cannelés left, and I (at least) will try your recommended method and report back. Until then, as is (and keep in mind this is following the box's suggestion for preparation, so don't hate on me too much) it's just a middlin' 2.5.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cannelés De Bordeaux: 4.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Trader Joe's Caramel Flavored Coffee Granola

I've always preferred the smell of coffee to its taste. The smell is rich and earthy—the taste often is, too, but there's usually a bitterness that accompanies it that I find unpleasant in most cases. With this product, when you open the bag, you might as well be opening a big bag of dark roast coffee beans. The smell alone can wake a drowsy person from their dreamy slumber. It's a deeply pleasant experience, worth the $2.99 for just the first whiff of the bag alone. But not only that, the taste is just like coffee, too—but there's little to no bitterness here. It's sweet, but not overly so, nutty, crunchy, and full of real ground coffee.

And like real coffee, it goes great with milk. It stays nice and crunchy. The texture of whole grain oat clusters pairs so beautifully with the flavor of sweet, creamy coffee, it's a wonder this isn't a staple in every household. Like most of their products, I'm sure Trader Joe's didn't invent this stuff—apparently coffee cereal has been a thing for a while, although I can't imagine flakes working quite as well as granola—but TJ's is the first store that's brought this phenomenon to my attention. They get most of the credit in my book, because they're the ones making this mainstream. And after this fun little coffee extravaganza is over, if only one product becomes a mainstay at Trader Joe's, I hope it's this one. Caffeinated cereal is something we need in our lives.

Sonia raved about this caramel coffee granola. She pointed out that the flavors are exceptionally well-balanced: the nuttiness and graininess of the granola, the earthiness of the coffee, and the sweetness of the caramel. She thought it tasted just like actual caramel. While there was definitely a nice sweet element to the cereal, I personally didn't detect anything as specific as caramel per se, but you still won't hear me complaining, because the sweetness level was just about perfect.

As far as weaknesses go, I could complain about the clusters of granola being inconsistent. Some were enormous and inedible in their initial rock-like state, but with a few jabs of a spoon, they typically would crumble into something more manageable. Not a big deal. And not that it's a weakness, but tons of black flecks fall off the granola chunks and float around in the milk. It almost looks like pepper. But it makes the residual milk taste like a diluted frappucino.

This is a must-purchase for fans of coffee and granola. It might even come in handy if you're trying to wean yourself off of eight cups of coffee a day. Having a little caffeine in your snack could help "take the edge off." Or that might just be an excuse to feed your nasty habit even more. 

But it's a darn good excuse.

Four stars from me. Perfect five from the coffee-loving Sonia

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

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