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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Trader Joe's Chocolate Peanut Butter Mochi

Mochi, the traditional Thanksgiving treat. Right?



Oh well.

So many good seasonal treats out at TJ's right now....problem is, we seem to have covered most in years past, or just haven't spotted them. Didn't eat it, can't review it. So that's how we got stuck with posting about Trader Joe's Chocolate Peanut Butter Mochi the day before Turkey Day Stuff Fest.

If you've had TJ's mochi in the past, you know more or less what to expect here. This particular interpretation has much the same touch and feel of other TJ mochi offerings - dry, chewy rice flour exterior, firm, chilly, surprisingly melt resistant ice cream in the middle. Highly portable, very snackable and just plain fun, except this time with the classic pairing of peanut butter and chocolate.

Well, peanut butter at least.

That's the main problem. The chocolate rice mochi shell is scarcely cocoa-fied at all. It's...bland. It's...just kinda there, and that's it. If I strained my taste buds enough, there's some strands of chocolate to be detected, but there's not nearly enough.

The pb ice cream is more towards the subtle side too, instead of extra sugary over the top like some commercial offerings. That's fine and it totally works - it's pretty darn tasty. It's just that it'd be really nice to have that play off some chocolate a bit, and it just doesn't happen.

Eh well. The moch are still pretty decent as is - my beautiful bride, our kiddos and I had no issue downing our share. I don't recall the price but it's no more than a couple bucks for the box of six, which is reasonable enough value. Double threes.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Chocolate Peanut Butter Mochi: 6 out of 10 Golden Spoons

Monday, November 25, 2019

Trader Joe's Cauliflower & Cheesy Pasta Shells

At first, I thought Trader Joe's was substituting pasta shells completely with cauliflower in this dish. It seemed like the most Joesian thing to do. 

You feel me on the use of the term "Joesian"? It means Trader Joe's-esque, as in, What Would Trader Joe's Do? Because Trader Joe's loves to swap out normal foods with cauliflower. It's super Joesian.

Just check the search term "cauliflower" on our blog. We've seen them swap out pancakes, rice, pizza crust, mashed potatoes, and much, much more...with cauliflower. Nothing but cauliflower.

Now they're keeping the pasta, but throwing cauliflower into the mix. I guess it's lower in carbs, but obviously not carb-free. I honestly wouldn't have minded a dish sans pasta. Cheesy cauliflower with a little panko would have been just fine with me. The pasta shells keep the look, feel, and taste just a tad more familiar...and it works.

In truth, I don't think the cauliflower adds a whole lot. But like I said, it might be taking away some of the carbs. It smells of cauliflower even more than it tastes like cauliflower, in my opinion. 

This dish is tasty because of the oodles of warm, gooey ricotta and fontina cheese, with just a bit of dry, crunchy complexity from the panko. I love panko bread crumbs. Wouldn't have minded a whole lot more of it here in Trader Joe's Cauliflower and Cheesy Pasta Shells.

It's possible to tell which little bits of the dish are pasta and which are roasted cauliflower pieces, but they really don't taste all that different to me. I went the lazy route here and microwaved the dish, although both microwave and oven heating methods are listed. During the stirring process, I mixed most of the panko into the mostly melted cheese, except around the edges, where a nice, firm panko crust remained. I wish I'd left the panko-encrusted top intact, because it was probably my favorite part of the meal.

There's still plenty of fat and cholesterol in this product, so it's not really diet food, unless you're just aiming to consume slightly less carbs. I mean, pasta isn't the first thing you'd want on a low carb diet, but if you were going to splurge, cauliflower plus pasta is better than pasta alone I suppose. I give three and a half stars to this cauliflower & cheesy pasta shells microwave dinner. Sonia gives it four. 

Bottom line: 7.5 out of 10.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Trader Joe's An Assortment of Boozy Little Chocolate Truffles

Overall, Pennsylvania is a pretty good state to live in. Respectable weather more times than not, decent economy, reasonable cost of living (especially around Pittsburgh), good schools, two major cities with plenty enough culture and opportunities between them, lots of mountains and lakes, lots of cool, interesting towns. I've lived in three different parts of the state and have loved them all.

But not to say we're perfect. Biggest thing: Our so-called "blue laws." Although not really enforced, in some places it's technically illegal to play pool on Sundays. One law that is: can't buy cars on Sundays still. And most pertinent to this review: can't buy alcohol at grocery stores or gas stations, at least without jumping through some hoops.

So, yeah, while most of you enjoy the glory of TJ's with some sort of alcohol at them, we don't. So when superfans of our blog like Elaine from California offer to send us stuff like Trader Joe's An Assortment of Boozy Little Chocolate Truffles (can't buy 'em here!) we're all on board. Thanks Elaine!

Yup, at no more than 2.2% alcohol, these truffles are too boozed and infused to be on the shelves here. Though, let's be honest, at such a low percentage you're more likely to get buzzed from all the sugar instead of any of the spirits.

As you can see, there's four types of truffles here. Each kind is distinctly marked, roughly marble-sized, and packaged as nine pieces, so there are 36 truffles altogether. All have a soft chocolate shell with a oozy boozy caramelly center. Let's break down each, in order of preference.

Prosecco: Enrobed in white chocolate. Delish. These are easily the sweetest of the bunch. The sweetness of the white chocolate and prosecco play very well off each other, and is quite a pleasant experience. Sandy's favorite, and my second.

Scotch whiskey: Dark chocolate. Definitely the other end of the spectrum from the prosecco ones. Perhaps the most decadent of the bunch? I'd definiterly say the most rich. But the dark chocolate really is a good framework for the earthy goodness of the whiskey to shine through. My favorite, Sandy's second.

Navy rum: Navy rum? Never heard of navy rum. I blame my Puritancal upbringing. These are milk chocolate with a dark chocolate drizzle. Not terribly notable, a good solid truffle, and one can definitely taste the rum, but they are definitely the least distinct of the bunch.

London gin: Probably love or hate, depending on how much you like gin. There's definitely a certain sweet pine-y gin flavor poking thru the regular chocolate. I liked my second more than my first, but still, not the best here. Not awful. Sandy's not huge on them, making them the lowest on the totem pole here.

So there ya have it. Candy with booze for all the grownups for your holiday get-together. I'd say slip a few to the kiddos to make them crash, but that's irresponsible and would probably backfire anyways - much more sugar than spirits here.

Each box runs $6.99 which seems pretty reasonable all things considered. Must be 21 and not in Pennsylvania to buy. We like 'em just fine.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's An Assortment of Boozy Little Chocolate Truffles: 7 out of 10 Golden Spoons.

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