Google Tag

Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Trader Joe's Crispy Peanut Butter Filled Milk Chocolate Peanuts

"A stopped clock is right once a day."

Had a friend who used to go around saying that, and if you said "Uh, wouldn't that be twice?", he'd snap back with "It's on military time!" and think he was being really funny. Sigh. 

So anyways, a similar sentiment to a stopped clock being correct however many times you want it to be is: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. Don't know how you can get too smart with that one. 

So, what if this blind squirrel were to stumble across some Trader Joe's Crispy Peanut Butter Filled Milk Chocolate Peanuts?

Good question. Depending on how hungry that squirrel was - it may have been a while since it's last nutty snack, the poor little guy - or if he's dodging hawks or something, at first that squirrel may think it's just a normal nut. The size of these new filled chocolate treats are fairly peanut like - maybe a touch bigger, peanut shell textured and all - and for all intents and purposes each piece is definitely as peanutlike as a piece of chocolate can be on the exterior. It's a little bit of artistry, maybe not quite enough that a blind squirrel could fully appreciate it, but present nonetheless. Maybe that squirrel's sense of touch is a bit off as well.

But once that little bushytailed rodent sank its teeth in, there's an undeniable difference. As you can see, the exterior shell is completely made of fairly thick-to-scale milk chocolate. Speaking as someone who has incidentally ingested actual peanut shells once or twice, there's no mistaking that difference. The chocolate is soft and welcoming, sugary and sweet just like a good milk chocolate, and hits all the right dopamine centers. Nothing wrong with it - if it indeed tasted like a peanut shell that'd be very different. 

Further in, let's say that squirrel was in such a rush that s/he didn't notice the shell difference and was straight driving for that crunchy peanut in the middle. Would that squirrel be disappointed at the soft, creamy peanut butter in the hallowed out middle? I can't answer for anyone but myself, and I wasn't. Don't think a Reese's experience - while delicious, their pb tends to be somewhat dry and chalky, while this pb is more of Skippy or Jif experience. Delish, and great for candies. Love it, and could definitely tell the difference in a blind taste test. 

But what neither that squirrel nor anyone else could detect would be anything fulfilling the packaging's promise of a crispy undertaking. there's supposed to be some toasted rice type crispy crunchies in here. There's scarcely any - maybe two grains per candy. That's...not enough for anything that says it'd be crispy. Put more of that ricey goodness in the chocolate shell - that'd be awesome! Or make more of peanut butter rice crispy treat type center, and coat with plain chocolate - also a great idea. Or go for gold and do both - that might be a little overkill but i think it'd work. 

So yeah, let's shoo away that squirrel and wrap it up. These TJ treats are good and tasty, in a somewhat novel form, but aren't appreciably different from many other choc and pb based candies. Gotta step up that crisped rice game. No one in our house dislikes them, and the little baggie that sells for $3ish bucks goes way too fast with only like 15 of them in there. Pretty average in the end, I guess. Can't always find that golden nut. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Crispy Peanut Butter Filled Milk Chocolate Peanuts: 6.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons 


Friday, February 19, 2021

Trader Joe's Cold Brew Coffee & Cream Liqueur

I guess the whole upper and downer all in a single beverage isn't a new concept. I love Red Bull and I'm fine with vodka when coupled with appropriate mixers, but blending the two together? Stimulants and depressants both at the same time make me spazzy.

Some might say I'm spazzy to begin with. That's fine. I won't argue the point. 

Stuff like Kahlua, coffee liqueur, or this cold brew beverage? Same thing. There's real coffee with real caffeine as well as alcohol. But you know, it tastes so gosh dang good, I have some every chance I get, which realistically isn't all that often.

I guess the real question is: when is the appropriate time to enjoy such a beverage? I, personally, can't have it before bed as a nightcap, because it'll keep me up into the next morning. I suppose some could get away with the whole Irish coffee thing and have it in the morning, especially if you work from home and don't need to drive anywhere, but I know I don't function very efficiently that way, depending, of course, on what I'm working on and how into it I am.

I suppose the best time for me to consume such a beverage would be right after dinner, still hours before bed, but after the day's tasks are completed. It's a narrow window, indeed. And it still might keep me up a little later than usual. Even more likely: I'll be in a spazztastic mood that'll annoy Sonia and anyone else around, making all involved wish I'd simply stuck to an upper or a downer and not both simultaneously.

Of course, I exaggerate the effects of such beverages. I don't think there's enough caffeine or alcohol in this drink to really do any harm to me or anyone else. I just needed a lead-in for the review, and stream-of-consciousness seemed as good an angle as any.

The product? It's sure tasty enough. The coffee element isn't overdone. It doesn't taste like a pot of black java. It's more like a premixed frappuccino or what-have-you. I guess cold brew coffees tend to be a little smoother and less bitter than other selections. It's super creamy, slightly thick, and almost velvety, texture-wise. It's only moderately sweet, well-balanced flavor-wise. It's perfect in a cocktail glass with a few ice cubes to keep it cold and thin it out as they melt.

Sonia was quite smitten with this liqueur. She's generally way more into coffee products than I am. She almost always sips her drinks super slowly, while I'm more of a chugger—and that goes for everything from water to juice to fine cream liqueurs—although I must say she downed this selection uncharacteristically quickly. She liked it significantly more than Kahlua, stating that it's much less harsh and more palatable.

For less than $10, it's worth a try for coffee connoisseurs and boozehounds alike. The quality is on par with any other cream liqueur, a la Bailey's or RumChata, with a distinct cold brew coffee taste. The wifey and I will both give it a thumbs up.

Four stars from me. Perfect five from Sonia.

Bottom line: 9 out of 10.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Trader Joe's Calabrian Chili Tomato Dumpling Soup

Chances are, it's pretty cold where you are right now. It sure is here in the 'burgh. Cold enough that it killed our new battery in the family minivan out of nowhere, and naturally at a fairly inopportune time and place - as if there is such thing as a "good time" for that to happen. Cold enough to make being outside for more than two minutes worth questioning your sanity. And given the news stories and social media feeds we've seen from elsewhere, we're fairly lucky here in the 'burgh as other areas have been much more deeply impacted. 

Cold, cold, cold. Please, keep warm. If you can help others get warm too, please do. 

And maybe to help warm up yourself, get a big ol' jar of the new Trader Joe's Calabrian Chili Tomato Dumpling Soup. 

Listen: this ain't no ketchup water from a can. Warhol, when asked why he painted soup cans, said he wanted to paint nothing, and that soup cans were that - nothing. Given his choice of subject matter, in the famous red and white label, I can see why he said that. 

This ain't that. 

First: calabrian chili peppers. Even if you've only ever been to TJ's, you've seen them before, in probably my favorite product ever: the Italian bomba sauce. Mama mia! That's some hot stuff. The calabrese experience in the tomato soup isn't quite the same kick - it's not fermented or anything like the bomba, so a lot less kick - but still there's enough moderate spice and heat and warmth added. If you're staunchly spice adverse, it may be a bit much, but it's at a level that i think it'd be accessible to most folks. Then again I can eat an entire jar of the bomba with a spoon in minutes, so my scale may be off. 

And additionally: dumplings!

Man, who doesn't like dumplings? You can put some in my soup anytime! I love little bits of doughy dough floating around, in a form that's akin to but chewier and doughier than a noodle. Tasty. There's an extra heartiness imparted by the presence of the dumplings, that make the soup feel like less of a side and more of a meal. But there could definitely be more - I'm not asking for handful and handfuls, as the soup is actually pretty tasty and doesn't suffer without dumplings, but a few more would really fill it out more. 

All together, it's delicious, warm, hearty soup, with a little kick, with serious warm belly filling potential, in a convenient quick and easy glass jar, for like $3. Can't beat it. This might be my new favorite store brand soup. Gonna have to go get it a few more times, you know, if the car would start....

Wife and kids sat this out. My lovely bride doesn't like tomatoes, and my kids don't like spice. Oh shucks, more for me. Love it, with only the wish for more dumplings as a knock. So good, so warm on up with some yourself if I may suggest. 

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Calabrian Chili Tomato Dumpling Soup: 8 out of 10 Golden Spoons


You Might Like: