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Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Trader Joe's Snowflake Pastry

I want to say it was two Christmases ago, but Sonia and I splurged and bought one of those O & H Danish Kringles from Trader Joe's, and it was amazing. All who partook of the pastry agreed that it was divine: family, friends, guests, and pets. The decision was unanimous. Whether dunked or dry, buttered or not, that pastry was a win, no matter how you sliced it. We neglected a review on this blog since there are generally so many Trader Joe's brand goodies to be scrutinized this time of year.

But with offerings like this one, TJ's is making us wish we'd picked up another Kringle instead.

They've got the right idea: a soft bread, almond paste filling, and some sugar sprinkled on top. But the execution is poor. Just look at the uneven distribution of the sugar. The almond paste is severely deficient throughout the bulk of the pieces, and even the bread itself is slightly sub-par.

The bites that were full of almond paste were head and shoulders better than their non-almondy counterparts, but there's simply not enough of it to go around. There's a thin ring of the stuff right where the outer lumps of bread join to the inner circle. When one snags a piece from this area, the first bite or two tends to have copious quantities of the almond paste, but after that, it's just plain old boring bread.

Unlike the Kringle, this product is conveniently divided into sections, making for potentially simpler servings. No knife needed. Simply tear off a slice with your hands, in the manner of a loaf of monkey bread or pull-apart cake. As you can see in the picture below, however, my better half did not trust my grubby paws and opted to slice her pieces with surgical precision anyway. 

The product does dunk well, absorbing a generous lot of whatever hot beverage you're sipping at the moment, but that can be said about nearly any holiday pastry, from loaves to cakes to muffins or even cookies. Heating the pastry improves both taste and texture slightly, but does not entirely redeem it.

There are about nine servings in the package, according to the nutrition info, and for once, I won't argue with that assessment. $5.99 for the whole thing makes it affordable, but probably not the best way to spend six bucks at Trader Joe's this time of year.

Sonia's biggest complaint was the uneven sugar and almond filling distribution, as well, but she was quite content dipping and dunking with her beloved java. Three and a half stars from her.

Had the bread itself been melt-in-your-mouth delicious, it might have been worth it, but as it stands, I'll be a bit Scrooge-ish and snub this poor pastry with two and a half stars.

Bottom line: 6 out of 10.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Trader Joe's Mint Flavored Fudge Brownie Bar

Earlier this week when writing about the roasted cauliflower dip, I wrote that I dislike when I ate a lot of something and don't know if I like it or not.

You know what else stinks? Not particularly enjoying something that it seems like everyone does.

It invites too many questions. Is the product somehow defective? Did I perhaps lose some portion allotment lottery where I just so happened to receive the least choice segment that is so unlike the rest of it? Is there something wrong with me? Am I too picky? Do my taste buds work right? Do I need to see a doctor?

Such as it is with Trader Joe's Mint Flavored Fudge Brownie Bar.

No, I won't be shelling out any copays over it, but, man. Sandy and I picked this up to bring over to our good friends Mark and Emma's to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah. Figured between us and our kiddos we'd all really like it and it'd somehow match up pretty well with Emma's delicious homemade latkes (10 out of 10 Golden Spoons there).

Dessert time! Kids devoured it, as one would expect children with anything chocolate would do. Both Sandy and Emma oohed and aahed over it. I took a bite...and was not impressed.

First, the brownie portion is too small. I neglected to take a picture of the actual product but the pic on front is fairly representative. Vertically speaking, it's maybe half brownie before going into icing. I'm an icing guy. I love corner pieces of cake...but man, there needs to be something that can back that up as well. There's not enough brownie for all that rich icing, and what was there was kinda spongey. I'll give it somewhat a pass as this is a frozen product which we quick thawed in the microwave, perhaps with a different method of warming it'd turn out better.

And then, the icing.

Mint flavored? Puhleese.

Unless my tongue somehow came down with a Paula Deen version of the Midas touch, it all just tastes like butter. Butter butter butter. Where's the mint? There's maybe a scarce hint here or there, but really, it just tastes like rich, thick buttercream slabbed up on top.

The chocolate ganache does add a nice touch and for me brings the whole brownie bar back into the respectable realm, so there's that. It really needed to counteract the butteriness and pick up the brownie's slack, which it did. The ganache doesn't completely salvage the whole thing, but you'll never hear me say anything bad about ganache either.

Both Sandy and Emma admitted it could have been a lot more minty which would have upped their already positive opinion. So it's not all me...they're just more forgiving and tolerable, which is a good thing for Mark and me. Both lovely ladies graced the brownie bar with similar sentiments and scores: "Damn tasty...could have been more and delicious though," they both more or less said before plopping about a 3.5 to 4 on it each? Me? I'd go a little lower, but seeing as that I just might be the outlier here, you may take my score with a grain of sugar.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Mint Flavored Fudge Brownie: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons

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