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Trader Joe's

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch CaramelsOne of the new items at Trader Joe’s candy section is a twist on an old fashioned favorite, a chocolate covered caramel. I’ve always wanted a better Milk Dud and Trader Joe’s as been doing a good job of providing some tantalizing options over the years.

The newest is Trader Joe’s Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels which comes in a 7 ounce gusseted bag with a resealable top. They describe them as Soft and creamy, deeply flavored butterscotch caramels are tinged with sea salt and enrobed in dark, slightly bitter chocolate to offset the sweetness.

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

I was wondering if these were the same as the Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels sold in the small, single serving lavender bags. The ingredients are remarkably similar, with one difference: the Butterscotch Caramels use tapioca syrup instead of corn syrup. So these are free of corn (or at least don’t have any stated corn ingredients).

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels

The flavor is very, well, butterscotchy. They taste like a butter flavor, but not an overtly artificial one like some fake popcorn topping can but more like a maple, woodsy flavor with stronger dairy notes. Instead it’s just rich and a little less sweet than the Tahitian Vanilla variety.

The dark chocolate coating is mild, on the semi-sweet side but has a creamy melt with a little smoky and pipe tobacco profile to it, instead of a dried fruit flavor that some darks can have.

I had wondered when the Tahitian Vanilla Caramels came out whether they’d be available in a bulk bag for serving in a bowl (or creating your own snack mix). This is a pretty good value at $3.49 (which is about $8 per pound) and the ingredients are all natural. I hope these stick around after the holidays, they might make a great travel mix with raw almonds, pretzels and milk chocolate drops. For right now they might just be my go-to candy for sneaking into a movie theater.

There is no statement or any info I can find about the sourcing of the ingredients, specifically the ethical sourcing of the chocolate. They also contain palm kernel oil (though very low on the list). They’re made with milk and soy and may contain traces of wheat, peanuts and tree nuts.

Related Candies

  1. Dove Sea Salt Caramel Dark Chocolate Promises
  2. Trader Joe’s 70% Dark with Caramel and Black Sea Salt
  3. Helliemae’s Salt Caramels
  4. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  6. Short & Sweet: Dollar Store
  7. Milky Way Simply Caramel


Name: Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Park LaBrea)
Price: $3.49
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 142
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:22 am     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateKosher8-TastyUnited StatesComments (3)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Trader Joe’s Holiday Roundup 2012

Every year I look forward to the post-Halloween emergence of holiday sweets at Trader Joe’s. There’s always a bit of a European flair to their selections, with an eye toward traditional confections with the occasional new age/artisanal candy. This year I perused three different stores in two counties to see what the offerings are this year. Here’s my roundup of what you might be able to find at Trader Joe’s to satisfy your (or a gift recipient’s) sweet tooth. (I may have missed something, so please chime in with your observations or reviews.)

New for 2012:

Trader Joe's Chocolate Covered Sea Salt Butterscotch CaramelsTrader Joe’s Sea Salt Butterscotch Caramels $3.49 - little nuggets of caramel covered in rich chocolate and more than a hint of sea salt. Gourmet Milk Duds. I picked these up (I’m not sure if they’re seasonal or not) and plan to review them, so you’ll probably be seeing that photo again.

Fruit and Nut Log $3.99 - a nougat center, covered in pistachios and pecans along with dried cranberries and apricots.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Caramallows $2.99 - a layer of marshmallow on top of caramel, covered in dark chocolate. It’s no See’s Scotchmallow, but I suppose it will do in a pinch.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles $3.99 - I reviewed these already, and though they’re fun, they’re not quite as good as some other seasonal items. (See review - 7 out of 10)

Trader Joe’s Organic Peppermint Starlights $1.99 - yup, organic hard candies. Great if you’re looking for something corn syrup-free.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Candy Cane Truffles $3.99 - kind of like individually wrapped Frangoes, as far as I can tell.

Trader Joe's Brandy Beans

Returning Favorites for 2012

Trader Joe's Fleur de Sel CaramelsTrader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels (wood box) $6.99 (2006 review, still the same packaging. Classic, nicely done but a little pricey for boiled sugar. 7 out of 10)

Trader Joe’s Cranberry Caramel Delights $7.99 - these were called Trader Joe’s Merry Mingle last year - caramel with pecans and cranberries dipped in dark chocolate (read review - 8 out of 10)

Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans $2.99 - these have been coming back on and off for years, they tend to sell out really early.

Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate & Dark Chocolate Oranges $2.99 - the price went up 50 cents (Reviewed in 2009 as Florida Tropic Oranges. Good quality & price plus always charming package and dark is vegan 7 out of 10 & 8 out of 10)

Trader Joe’s Belgian Chocolate Shoppe $9.99 - I don’t have great luck with these, but they’re a nice hostess gift if you can’t get to See’s.

Trader Joe's French TrufflesTrader Joe’s Cocoa Truffles $2.99 - inexcusable fat bombs imported from France. (see my review - I gave them a 3 out of 10, though I think the ingredients have changed a little bit, they’re still quite thin tasting yet stupidly fatty)

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Liqueur Cherries $5.99 - the price is up on this one, I recall they were $4.99 last year. But dried cherries are insanely expensive, so perhaps their ingredient cost went up.

Trader Joe’s Peppermint Bark $9.99 a tin - a great bargain for a very well made product.

Trader Joe’s English Toffee with Nuts (Tall Can) $7.99 (previously in a box like this? It’d call it a step above Almond Roca)

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter CupsTrader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups $.99 - I have a serious problem with these (review from last year). When they’re not sold individually wrapped, they’re in tubs.

Trader Joe’s Chocolate Rings with Sprinkle - they’re just little disks of dark chocolate with sprinkles, like giant SnoCaps - $1.99

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Cashew Brittle with Sea Salt $2.99

Trader Joe’s Candy Cane Coal - dark chocolate covered candy cane bits - $1.99

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Sea Salt CaramelsTrader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels $4.99 (2007 review - more of a flowing caramel than the chewy style of the Fleur de Sel - 6 out of 10)

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows $2.99 (2010 review - they’re quite moist and dense 7 out of 10)

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate After Dinner Mint Thins $2.99 (made in England) - they’re better than After Eight mints.

Also returning are the chocolate covered Peppermint JoJos and a variety box of other chocolate covered flavored Jo Jos. Though I reviewed the JoJo’s before, I can’t really call them candy.

Not Returning (unless you’ve sighted them):

Trader Joe's Classic Holiday Candy MixTrader Joe’s Classic Holiday Candy Mix - classic hard candy straws & pillows made with all natural ingredients. $1.99 (read review - 7 out of 10)

Trader Joe’s Eggnog Almonds - $3.99 (read review - 9 out of 10) These are made by Marich and I did see them at Sprouts in the bulk aisle labeled as Nutmeg White Chocolate Almonds.

Trader Joe’s Minty Melts - it’s peppermint bark for people who don’t like the crushed candy canes in it - $4.99 (read review - 7 out of 10)

What have you picked up that you liked this year? What do you miss from years gone by? I miss the Trader Giotto’s Soft Almond Nougat and the Dark Chocolate Covered Gingersnaps.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 3:44 pm     CandyTrader Joe'sHighlightShoppingComments (7)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel TrufflesLet’s see, if I was going to make my own candy, what would be the most popular ingredients to include? Dark Chocolate. Peanut Butter. Caramel. So it’s not surprising that I bought this gable box of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles.

The box holds about 15 individually wrapped bon bons filled with layers of caramel and peanut butter all covered in dark chocolate.

The front of the box says that there are no artificial flavors or colors, but that doesn’t mean that the ingredients are simple. There are things like malto-dextrin, fractionated palm oil (organic) and tocopherol (Vitamin E). But part of what makes the list so long is also how many of the items are preceded by “organic” such as the caramel (organic milk, organic sugar, etc).

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles

The bronzy twisted mylar wrappers hold the bon bons well. They’re glossy and nicely domed, about 1.125 inches in diameter. They’re about 12 grams each, which is approximately the same size as a Lindt Lindor Truffle (though not spherical).

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles

The shell yields easily to the soft interior. The burst of caramel comes first, as it’s more of a syrup than a firm chewy variety. The flavor is good, a little hint of burnt sugar but mostly a salted sweetness. The peanut butter base is very smooth with a smoky flavor for the most part and a light burst of salt as well. There’s a bit of chocolate in the filling as well, it looks like maybe a layer between the caramel and peanut butter - probably to keep them from mingling. The melt of it all is less than stellar, the chocolate is quite firm but the peanut butter is soft but slightly waxy (is that what fractionated palm oil is like?). Overall, it just never came together for me as a decadent whole. I’ll probably finish the package at some point but I’ve passed them over plenty of times when looking in my goody drawer over the past week, which is a rating in and of itself.

I still might consider these as a hostess gift, especially if you know the person is inclined towards the elements of caramel, dark chocolate and peanut butter. Even though they’re not as flashy, I prefer Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (which I’ve been eating by the tub-full for extra calories).

There is no ethical sourcing statement for the chocolate on the box, though the organic status of many of the ingredients bodes well for the attention the makers pay to sourcing ingredients. The truffles contain soy, peanuts and milk. They’re made in a facility that also processes wheat, eggs and tree nuts.

See also Rosa’s review at ZOMG! Candy.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
  2. Trader Joe’s A Very Merry Mingle
  3. Madelaine Duets
  4. Snickers Peanut Butter Santas
  5. Lindt Lindor Truffle Eggs
  6. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels


Name: Chocolate Peanut Butter Salted Caramel Truffles
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $3.99
Size: 6.34 ounces
Calories per ounce: 158
Categories: All Natural, Christmas, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, Kosher, Peanuts, 7-Worth It, Canada

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:06 am     All NaturalCandyReviewChristmasTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateKosherPeanuts7-Worth ItCanadaComments (2)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Taza Stone Ground Chocolate Mexicano

Taza StackTaza Chocolate makes their chocolate from bean to bar in Somerville, Mass. What sets them apart from the many other small batch chocolate makers that have sprung up in the last 10 years is that they stone grind their chocolate in the rustic, classic Mexican tradition. Taza sources their cacao through direct trade sources to assure quality and ethical practices.

They make a wide variety of products but the ones of most interest to me are the Mexicano Discs. They make 10 different varieties, but I got samples of two that I thought would represent the style best: Cacao Puro Chocolate Mexicano 70% and Taza Salted Almond Chocolate Mexicano. I also noticed recently that Trader Joe’s has started carrying a strikingly similar set of chocolate discs, so I’ll throw in some notes about that.

Taza Stone Ground Chocolate

The Taza website describes the Taza Discs as Rustic, round dark chocolate discs with a distinctively gritty texture, some sweet, some savory, some spicy. The packages have two discs in them, 2.7 ounces total (1.35 ounces each).

The discs are either for eating straight from the package or making into a drink by mixing with a whisk (or molinillo if you want to be authentic) and some hot milk (or water).

Taza Cacao Puro Chocolate MexicanoThe packaging is extremely simple. It’s a printed, stiff parchment style paper that’s folded around the chocolate and sealed on the bottom with a large sticky label.

The Cacao Puro Chocolate Mexicano 70% is organic, gluten free, soy free and dairy free plus Kosher and made with only two ingredients: organic cacao beans and organic cane sugar.

The process for making the chocolate is very simple. The roasted cacao is placed in the stone mills and ground, then ground a second time with the sugar added. As noted on their website, it’s not a lot of processing, no conching and no emulsifiers are used. The chocolate is then tempered and molded into the discs.

Taza Salted Almond

(My photos for the Puro turned out poorly, so just imagine this Salted Almond is the Puro. It really looks the same, just a smidge darker.)

The look of the bars is a little dusty, less than glossy. The snap is solid, these are tough and dense bars. The melt is, well, not very smooth. It’s described as rustic and rustic is what it is.

The overwhelming flavor note I had was green wood, it’s a little like black tea, with other notes of lemon peel, raisins and a hint of figs and leather.

The texture is grainy, there are grains of sugar, which are interesting because they dissolve quickly. Then the is the grit of the large cacao particles. This gives the overall flavor of the chocolate a sort of variation, there are parts where the flavors might start as citrusy but then after chewing (yes, later because of the grit, there is more chewing than a really smooth dark chocolate might obligate me) some other flavors come out, like the tobacco and tea.

Taza Salted Almond Chocolate MexicanoIt was really looking forward to the Salted Almond Chocolate Mexicano.

The chocolate here is only 40% cacao, with a larger proportion of sugar plus the almonds and salt taking up the other 60%. I really expected the cross section of this one to look more rustic, with more bits of almond in there, but it’s really well integrated.

It’s quite sweet, the graininess is taken up with the sugary grains with a hint of salt. I didn’t catch much from the almonds, except that they gave it a more creamy and mellow flavor that moderated the bitterness of the cacao better than the sugar. The chocolate flavors were also evened out, so I just got a sort of fudge brownie flavor from the whole thing.

I tried making a hot chocolate with this, since that’s part of the appeal of the Mexican-style of rustic chocolate. I didn’t put a lot of chocolate into it - about half of a disc for about 6 ounces of whole milk, I’ll probably add more next time. It’s best to use a whisk for this, all I had was a fork, so there was a lot of stirring (and a good thing that I didn’t fill up the cup all the way). The flavor is much more nutty and the sugar dissolves completely. The grittiness of the cocoa part goes away (until you get to the sludge at the bottom which is then a mix of almond bits and cacao nibs, which is also great).

I prefer this as a hot drink to a bar for eating, but that’s just me. It’s a bit expensive and requires a lot more work than just dumping a powder into some hot water, but I appreciate good ingredients and can take that extra minute for the stirring. (And now that the weather is getting cooler, I need a sort of whisk that’s ideal for one cup of chocolate.)

Trader Joe's Salt & Pepper

The final one I have notes on is the Trader Joe’s special version, Organic Salt & Pepper. It has 54% cacao, so it’s a bit darker than the Almond version. The only real difference between this disc set and the Taza branded ones is the fact that there are no little letters T A Z A on the molded sections.

It smells dark and peppery with some rum notes. The salt is much more forward than the Salted Almond. The gritty texture seemed to go well with the rustic flavors of salt and pepper and the grainy sugar. The cocoa flavors were a bit lost though did remind me of brownie batter. Of the three that I tried, this was my least favorite, but mostly because of the overall sandiness. The heat of the black pepper takes a while to warm up, but lends some nice tones.

The style of chocolate is interesting and definitely different from the standard fare and novelty chocolates these days. Really, I think this chocolate will shine as a drinking product, not for straight eating. But that’s a personal preference. If you’re looking for a chocolate that’s easy to portion, made with vegan ingredients, that has no GMO ingredients, emulsifiers or gluten or added vanilla bean then this is a fantastic option.

Update 10/29/2012: Per the suggestions of readers that I should drink this as hot chocolate, I did just that with one tablet of the Salted Almond. I found it a little bland, but very rich. So for the remaining discs, I made chocolate pudding. The recipe was 1/4 cup of corn starch, 3 cups of milk and three discs (about 3.5 ounces) of chopped chocolate. I warmed the mixture on the stove over low heat while I used a whisk to completely incorporate the corn starch, then as the chocolate melted to emulsify it. Then turned it up to medium heat, stirred constantly until it just started to thicken and boil. I added some vanilla extract (optional). It’s very rich, not at all sweet.

For my mix I had one disc of Salted Almond and two of the Cacao Puro. I wasn’t interested in the Salt & Pepper as pudding.

Related Candies

  1. McIlhenny Co Tabasco Brand Spicy Chocolate
  2. Al Nassma Camel Milk Chocolate
  3. De la Rosa Mazapan
  4. Carlos V: Dark Knight
  5. Christmas Classics Poll Results
  6. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Line
  7. Nestle Carlos V Milk Chocolate


Name: Chocolate Mexicano: Cacao Puro 70%
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Taza Chocolate
Place Purchased: Samples from Taza Chocolate
Price: $4.50 retail
Size: 2.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Taza Chocolate, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States


Name: Chocolate Mexicano: Salted Almond
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Taza Chocolate
Place Purchased: Samples from Taza Chocolate
Price: $4.50 retail
Size: 2.7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: Candy, Taza Chocolate, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Nuts, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States


Name: Salt & Pepper Dark Chocolate
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (3rd & Fairfax)
Price: $3.99
Size: 2.6 ounces
Calories per ounce: 148
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, Kosher, Organic, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:40 pm     All NaturalCandyTaza ChocolateTrader Joe'sChocolateEthically SourcedKosherNutsOrganic7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (5)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey MintsTrader Joe’s often has wonderful finds where they package up a candy that’s hard to find. In this case it’s their newly introduced Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Honey Mints.

Sure they’re peppermint patties, so you’re wondering what’s so special about that? They have three ingredients in them. Just three: honey, chocolate liquor and oil of peppermint. The center is creamed honey (it just means whipped, there’s no additional dairy) and some peppermint to flavor it. The dark chocolate coating is just cacao, there’s no sugar in it. All the sweetness comes from the whipped honey center.

As far as I can tell, they’re made by Honey Acres of Wisconsin. I first tried them at the Fancy Food Show in 2008 (brief review here) and could only find them online for a while at Natural Candy Store (I’m hesitant to order chocolate candy because of melting problems with deliveries). The first time I tried them, I thought they were good, but not fantastic. But the memory of them stuck with me, so I was glad to see that I could pick them up again. (Update on that, it’s possible they’re made by Heavenly Organics.)

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

They’re gluten free, contain no artificial colors or flavors and no preservatives.

The honey is creamed by adding special seed honey and a hint of peppermint oil to create a smooth and refreshing center, which is then covered in a rich, dark chocolate.

The patties are 1.5 inches in diameter and wrapped tightly in an aqua colored aluminum foil.

While the ingredients are good and considered pure, this is by no means a low calorie product. There’s more chocolate on them than a York Peppermint Pattie, so don’t expect them to be extremely low calorie. York Patties are about 102 calories per ounce, so almost pure sugar, very little fat. Dark Chocolate Honey Mints are 127 calories per ounce, so less than a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup or something similarly fatty.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Honey Mints

The dark chocolate is thick and densely dark. It’s all chocolate, so it’s intense. Just eating the chocolate is tough, because it’s unsweetened. But there’s plenty of cocoa butter, so it may be a little bitter but it does have a smooth and silky melt. The element here that surprised me, and remember, I’ve had these before, was the creamy honey center. The mints I had four years ago must have been a little bit older, because these are fresh and exquisitely textured. The honey center is smooth and buttery but not greasy, the dissolve is cool on the tongue. It’s sweet and has that musky honey note to it, but also a refreshing and crisp peppermint note. It’s not too strong, not too sugary.

Taken together, the bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate is offset perfectly.

After writing last week about candy being “unjunked” from artificial ingredients, here’s a candy that takes the confection back to its barest basics ... and then leaves it there. No nutritional fillers ... just pure ingredients, each with a job to do.

Update 3/7/2013: I bought another bag of these recently and noticed that they’ve changed their production style. They’re now a molded candy instead of enrobed, so the shells are very consistent and shiny. The flavor profile is the same, though perhaps a little more chocolate now.

Related Candies

  1. Zachary Thin Mints & Raspberry Thin Mints
  2. RM Palmer Peppermint Patties
  3. Sunspire Peppermint Pattie
  4. Candy Bites: The Sweet, Crunchy & Creamy
  5. Junior Mints Deluxe
  6. 3 Musketeers Mint with Dark Chocolate
  7. York Pinkermint Patties


Name: Dark Chocolate Honey Mints
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's
Price: $3.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 127
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Kosher, Mints, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 11:53 am     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sChocolateMints7-Worth ItUnited StatesComments (13)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer CookiesMy weaknesses are cream filled wafers, peanut butter and dark chocolate. (Well, I have more weaknesses than that.) So it’s only natural that I picked up Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies last weekend.

The package promises that they’d be Crunchy, Creamy, Salty, Sweet!

The gusseted bag is rather small, but predicts 8 full servings, if each serving is only four pieces. Not so easy. These are also calorie bombs, if I believe the Trader Joe’s Nutrition Facts label. It shows that that serving of four pieces is 26 grams (.92 ounces) and clock in at 160 calories. That’s 174 calories per ounce. I’m not sure that’s possible when the third ingredient is flour. But there you have it, one of the most calorie dense products I’ve ever reviewed.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies

The pieces are pretty small, a little shy of a quarter of an ounce each and a little under one inch square and half an inch high. They don’t smell like much, I expected roasted peanut scent when I opened the package. I liked that, I liked that the dark chocolate must have sealed it all in.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies

The dark chocolate is quite dark but has a good, immediate melt. It’s a little on the bitter side but has strong woody and charcoal flavors. The wafers are pretty thick, much thicker and airier than I expected. Their flavor is mild, but has a light malt note to it. The cream between the wafers is part peanut butter with a little milk or coconut oil to make it smoother. The texture combination is fantastic. The size of each piece makes it easy to cleave the layers apart with my teeth, or just eat it whole. (Eating it in two pieces can be messy, as some of the chocolate may fall off.)

I found them filling, but not heavy like some peanut butter products can be. Each element was well balanced. The chocolate filled its role without overwhelming the peanut butter flavors, the peanut butter wasn’t so thick and sticky and the wafers were light and airy without getting gummy or tacky.

Really what I wish they had was a better name that didn’t use 9 words.

The pieces are great for sharing and munching as a snack. (Though be careful of that calorie count.) They look good in a small bowl, but I’d wager it’d be empty pretty soon. I would buy these again and would love to see them in other varieties.

There’s no notice on the package or Trader Joe’s website about the origin or ethical sourcing of the chocolate and other ingredients. It’s all natural with no preservatives. Contains soy, wheat, milk and peanuts.

Related Candies

  1. Fujiya Look Wafers & Crepes
  2. Christopher’s Good News
  3. Tunnock’s Caramel Milk Chocolate Wafer
  4. Nestle Butterfinger Snackerz
  5. Q.Bel Double Dark Chocolate Wafer Bar
  6. Baby Ruth Crisp & Nestle Crisp Bars
  7. Q.Bel Wafer Rolls


Name: Dark Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Wafer Cookies
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $2.99
Size: 7 ounces
Calories per ounce: 174
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Cookie, Kosher, Peanuts, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:06 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sChocolateCookieKosherPeanuts8-TastyUnited StatesComments (4)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Trader Joe’s Almondictive Bits

Trader Joe's Almondictive BitsI’m always scouring Trader Joe’s for new candy and was rewarded with this little tub of Trader Joe’s Almondictive Bits. It’s the familiar stackable clear plastic bin, this time with a name and design worthy of the Fearless Flyer.

A compulsively, compelling candy, caramelized almond morsels covered in dark chocolate

I often complain that Trader Joe’s doesn’t take the time to name their products beyond a description of what it actually is. So kudos to them for coming up with something original (so original that all google searches lead back to Trader Joe’s references). But most of all, I appreciate that Trader Joe’s used the slightly more proper addictive as their source instead of addicting. Of course since it’s a made up word, it also reminds me of the vindictive, and I don’t like mean almonds.

Trader Joe's Almondictive Bits

The pieces vary in size, some as large as a peanut but most about the size of a garden pea. The 45% dark chocolate coating is quite deep looking and glossy. There’s a slight coating of glaze on it, but it melts very quickly. The chocolate is a bit on the bitter side with lots of brownie batter and coffee notes to it. The centers are crispy caramelized chunks of almonds. Some pieces were pretty much all toffee while others were very nicely roasted almonds with a hint of crunchy toasted sugar.

The nuttiness made these just a little different from their chocolate covered toffee bits they also sell in the small bags by the register. It’s a satisfying combination of sweet, salty and bitter along with a creamy chocolate coating and different textures of crunch in the center. I wish the pieces were just slightly larger or more consistently large. The little bits at the bottom, which were like ball bearings and mostly chocolate weren’t doing much for me. These would be a great ice cream topping or added to a nuts & pretzel trail mix.

As with many of Trader Joe’s products, I don’t know where these were made or the ethical sourcing of the chocolate within. They are Kosher, contain dairy, almonds, soy and might have traces of wheat, peanuts and other tree nuts

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate Covered Joe’s O’s
  2. Trader Joe’s Eggnog Almonds
  3. Trader Joe’s 70% Dark with Caramel and Black Sea Salt
  4. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Powerberries
  6. Recchiuti Asphalt Jungle Mix
  7. Sconza 70% Dark Chocolate Toffee Almonds


Name: Almondictive Bits
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silver Lake)
Price: $3.99
Size: 11 ounces
Calories per ounce: 140
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Kosher, Nuts, Toffee, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:55 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sChocolateKosherNutsToffee8-TastyUnited StatesComments (1)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trader Joe’s Les Chocolats Belgique (Belgian Bars): Caramel, Chocolate Buttercream & Speculoos

Trader Joe's Belgian BarsFor the past few weeks running up to Valentine’s Day I’ve noticed quite a few ads for Cartier, especially in my New Yorker magazines. They feature three rings and extoll the virtues of this trinity: love, friendship and fidelity. Trader Joe’s has done something different with their new trinity, but I think they embody the same attributes.

There are three new petite bars at Trader Joe’s, sold under the banner of Les Chocolats de Belgique. They’re only a dollar each, so I figured why not try all of them. There’s the standard Milk Chocolate {filled with} Caramel, Dark Chocolate {filled with} Chocolate Buttercream and the most intriguing of the set, Dark Chocolate {filled with} Speculoos Cookie Spread. I’m going to go with Chocolate Buttercream representing love, Caramel represents fidelity and Speculoos represents friendship.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie BarI have to be honest, I had no idea what Speculoos was until about a year ago, and now it seems to be as trendy as bacon. In reality I actually knew Speculoos quite well. In the United States and Canada they’re known as Dutch Windmill Cookies. They’re just molded, rather thin, butter cookies that are not quite a shortbread, have more molasses or brown sugar in them and a touch of spices (usually cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger). The variety my grandmother always kept in a tin on her counter usually had sliced almonds in them and were less spicy than the German/Dutch varieties I’ve tried since. The cookies are common in Germany, Belgium, France and the Netherlands, especially before Christmas and the Epiphany.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Bar

Lately the confectionery trend has been to add crushed cookies to chocolate bars and now Trader Joe’s has a version that employs a spread made with Speculoos (think of it as a cookie version of Nutella).

All of the bars are the same format: a nicely molded long and thick filled chocolate bar. This one clocks in at 1.58 ounces (the others are 1.5 ounces) and a whopping 165 calories per ounce or 260 calories for the full bar.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Bar

The filling looks much lighter than the package, more like a light peanut butter than a chocolate spread. The filling is made from crushed cookies (so not gluten free) and some palm and coconut oils. It’s quite creamy with only a light grainy note to it of the cookies. The flavor is a lot like ground up shortbread with a light ginger and cinnamon spice note.

It’s comforting and pleasant, the texture is definitely fatty without feeling greasy. The chocolate is silky smooth with some light woodsy bitter notes that make the sweeter filling stand out. It’s a great change of pace for the price, but the calories make this one bar that I’m less likely to pick up.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Filled with Chocolate ButtercreamThe Dark Chocolate {filled with} Chocolate Buttercream bar is a little more traditional, but I must note that I was assuming that buttercream was going to be more ganache-like.

The buttercream center is actually made with something called “butter concentrate” and “milk concentrate.” If you’re dairy-adverse, steer clear of this bar. Even though it has lots of fat in it, it’s less calorie laden than the Speculoos bar, coming in at 230 calories for the 1.5 ounces or 153 calories per ounce.

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Filled with Chocolate Buttercream

The dark chocolate is much more front and center on this bar. It’s silky smooth and melts well. The center is quite soft and reminds me a bit of the middle of a Lindt Lindor Truffle, but less watery tasting. The chocolate buttercream is not quite as intense as the shell but has an excellent full texture. There were a few sugar grains in it, but I didn’t mind (I find the graininess of some buttercream frostings to be a selling point).

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Filled with CaramelThe puzzling bar in the mix, and judging by how elections in this country go, the most popular is the Milk Chocolate {filled with} Caramel. (I don’t know why I have to keep putting those brackets in there, they were on the wrappers, so now they’re here.)

If you were to pick out one of the three based on calorie count, well, you’d probably opt for the Caramel bar because it’s only (only!) 220 calories and one more gram of sugar than the Speculoos bar. But many folks will like this because it features Belgian milk chocolate. So the concept is sound, but perhaps a little ordinary.

Trader Joe's Caramel Belgian Bar

The sugar is quite apparent. The milk chocolate is smooth and milky but so incredibly sweet that it’s hard to get any actual chocolate flavor from it because it seared my throat so badly. The caramel filling is wonderfully smooth as well and has a strong toffee flavor to it, it’s also salty and, well, sweet. It’s a tough bar for me to love. It’s certainly better than a Caramello, but it makes me realize that I don’t really like these sorts of bars much ... even when done well.

I’m more likely to buy these Belgian bars again than ever be interested in Cartier jewelry, but neither are quite to my style. The quality of ingredients is good and the price is excellent, but they’re just not for me. I’m hoping if they’re popular we’ll get some other variations.



Name: Dark Chocolate Filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.58 ounces
Calories per ounce: 165
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, Cookie, 7-Worth It, Belgium


Name: Dark Chocolate Filled with Chocolate Buttercream
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 153
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Belgium


Name: Milk Chocolate Filled with Caramel
    RATING:
  • SUPERB
  • YUMMY
  • TASTY
  • WORTH IT
  • TEMPTING
  • PLEASANT
  • BENIGN
  • UNAPPEALING
  • APPALLING
  • INEDIBLE
Brand: Trader Joe’s
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Laguna Woods)
Price: $1.00
Size: 1.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 147
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Trader Joe's, Caramel, Chocolate, 7-Worth It, Belgium

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:00 pm     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolateCookie7-Worth ItBelgiumComments (6)

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