Archive for the 'Trader Joe’s' Category

Trader Joe’s Organic Stone Ground 70% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate

September 5th, 2012 by Rosa

These disks of Organic Stone Ground 70% Cacao Extra Dark Chocolate (what a mouthful!) caught my eye at Trader Joe’s. They looked suspiciously similar to Taza’s Mexicanos (previously reviewed here), and Trader Joe’s is known for unbranding and selling name-brand things at a discount.

The Trader Joe’s version was $3.99. Taza Mexicanos currently run just shy of $9 on Amazon but are only $4.50 on the Taza website. The size and shape of both versions are the same, and both contain two disks to a package.

Underneath the wrapper, the disks look pretty similar, with light wedge scoring that doesn’t quite reach the center. The Taza version is on my Flickr page, and the Trader Joe’s version is below.

The Trader Joe’s chocolate was described as “a traditional Mexican-style chocolate stone milled in small batches.” That’s a pretty good description of what Taza does.

Finally, the Trader Joe’s ingredients were just organic cocoa nibs and organic cane sugar. Looks just like Taza’s Cacao Puro to me. I’m going to go ahead and call it – they’re the same.

Mexican-style chocolate is a totally different texture sensation than American chocolates. The disks here snapped easily and cleanly along the scores, revealingly their granulated consistency.

The chocolate had a finely gritty texture that squeaked a little between my teeth but didn’t leave any sediment behind. It was sort of like what eating wet fine-grained sand is probably like, only far more delicious and pleasant.

It had an intoxicating woody scent. The flavors were cleanly sugary sweet and grassy with a fruity raisin flavor and ended with a slightly bitter/astringent cocoa bean finish.

With such simple ingredients, this was chocolate at its most pure! My only complaint was that the astringency lingered, so I kept breaking off more bits to try to wipe the astringency from my mouth. The disk disappeared more quickly that way!

The unadulterated flavors of this chocolate made it a great taste experience. An OM.

 

Category: chocolate, OM, organic, review, Trader Joe's | 2 Comments »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate filled with Speculoos Cookie Spread

May 25th, 2012 by Rosa

It’s here! It’s here! It’s finally here! After year (okay, really just months) of searching and asking every time I went into my local Trader Joe’s, after I completely gave up on ever finding one because a Trader Joe’s cashier told me that they were no longer orderable, I GOT TO EAT A SPECULOOS CHOCOLATE BAR!

Got a little over excited there… let’s back up. Trader Joe’s introduced their “Les Chocolates de Belgique” line of chocolate bars {filled with} things with three bars: a caramel one, a chocolate buttercream one, and a Speculoos cookie spread one. The first two were easily found, but the latter most interesting and delicious-sounding one was missing from my local Trader Joe’s.

Until now! My friend Amanda found them on her latest Trader Joe’s run and was kind enough to remember that I had been lusting after them.

If you’ve never had a Speculoos cookie, you’re missing out. They’re light and crunchy cinnamon spice cookies from the Netherlands. Delta serves them on their flights as Biscoffs, and Trader Joe’s sells them as Bistro Biscuits.

The chocolate bar had six segments full of Speculoos in cookie spread form, which was similar in texture to peanut butter. The cookie spread filling was creamy and thick but also pillowy soft.

The cookie bits added a slight grit and crispy crunch. It tasted of sweet cinnamon and dusky caramelized cookie.

The dark chocolate shell was softened by the filling and lacked snap. The whole bar was on the soft side, hence the squished segment on the end of mine.

It tasted of deep cocoa with a woodsy finish and a minimal amount of sweetness – just enough to keep the bitter away. Paired with the cinnamon cookie, it was sweet and spicey and crispy and melty. So much delicious!

It was also so much fattening – 51% of your recommended daily dose of saturated fat in just one little 1.58 oz bar – probably because its center was basically cookies plus whipped oil. For that, I must take it down a notch, to an OMG. I want to hoard them, but I will try not to, for the sake of my arteries.

Category: chocolate, cookie, OMG, review, Trader Joe's | 6 Comments »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Toffee with Walnuts and Pecans

May 4th, 2012 by Rosa

Today I’m reviewing a second Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar on the heels of Wednesday’s review (that I briefly accidentally posted on Tuesday; oops!). This time, it’s toffee with walnuts and pecans. Here’s its epic description from the back of the box:

“The beauty of caramelized sugar reveals itself in flying colors when mixed with butter and artisinal sea salt to create rich toffee. Add walnuts and pecans to that toffee, then pair it all with our sophisticated deep, dark chocolate…”

This solid bar was scored into 8 rectangles. Mine had slightly bloomed, but I didn’t notice any detriment to its flavor or texture.

It had a sharp snap that revealed bits of toffee and nuts along the break. The roasted nuts and cleanly cleaving toffee added a pleasant, dry crunch that made me want to chomp this bar rather than let it melt.

The nuttiness of this bar was immediately noticeable. Walnut’s mild, acrid nuttiness and pecan’s darker nutty tinge were both present, and the whole thing finished on a strongly salty note.

The toffee added a light sweetness. Though I didn’t get any caramel complexity, the sweetness played off the salty and nutty quite well. It would’ve been nice to get more scorchiness, but it served its role just fine as is.

I’ll call this bar a win for Trader Joe’s. Though I thought it was a tad too salty at the finish, I enjoyed the toffee and loved the strength of flavor of the nuts. An OM.

 

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Caramel with Black Sea Salt

May 2nd, 2012 by Rosa

This Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar comes with fun old-timey art on the front and a lengthy narrative on the back of the box. Ready?

“Exotic Hawaiian Black Sea Salt hails from the Pacific seawater that surrounds the Hawaiian islands. This stunning black salt is evaporated in above ground pools that form naturally from lava flows. Together, its smoky aroma and intense caramel complement this sophisticated dark chocolate experience.”

It seems like Trader Joe’s was trying to emulate a classier/more expensive chocolate bar with this one. The Vosges Black Salt Caramel Bar (black Hawaiian sea salt, burnt sugar caramel, 70% dark chocolate), perhaps?

It succeeded on emulating Vosges in one annoying sense: this bar was incredibly messy. I didn’t get a shot of the whole bar because it was all crushed and sticky and oozing when I unwrapped it.

The dark chocolate shell was segmented into squares, but it was so thin that it broke anywhere that it pleased, releasing its amber liquid caramel all over the place. It did, at least, have with a nice snap and crunch when chewed.

I thought the flavor of the 70% dark chocolate was a bit one-dimensional and muddy in its finish. The caramel was so intensely sweet that it was almost sour. Alas, I found it to have no burnt complexity, though the salty finish was quite nice.

When eaten altogether, the combination of sweet, sour, and salty was nice enough, but I found that it lacked oomph. It just felt flat.

Part of me wonders if it is just a rebranded version of the Vosges Black Salt Caramel. I’m 90% sure it’s not – the Trader Joe’s chocolate didn’t have a nice melt or duskiness – but I could just be falling prey to marketing and cost cues of quality and enjoyableness.

At any rate, I’d give this an O. Nice try but something’s missing here.

Category: caramel, chocolate, O, review, Trader Joe's | 6 Comments »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee

March 9th, 2012 by Rosa

These Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffees are packaged and priced like their Tahitian Vanilla Caramels. I somehow missed them when I bought the caramels, but I nabbed them for a taste test on a recent visit.

The bag called them “crunchy toffee and roasted California almonds, covered with premium dark chocolate.” They were shiny panned chocolate spheres with a toffee/brittle center.

The dark chocolate shell was on the thick side and had a great semisweet flavor. Its melt was thick and smooth, and the chocolate itself was lightly sweet with a dusky finish.

The toffee center had a light crunch with a clean break. It was studded with small bits of nutty almonds.

Alone, that toffee center had a strong saltiness that overwhelmed its buttery nuttiness. With the chocolate, however, that saltiness became a great foil for the sweetness of the chocolate.

The chocolate and toffee were both of high quality and went well together, making these a greatly poppable mix of textures and flavors. An OM.

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate filled with Chocolate Buttercream

March 7th, 2012 by Rosa

Here’s my second (and final. ARG!) review of the Trader Joe’s Belgian chocolate bars, the Dark Chocolate {filled with} Chocolate Buttercream. As with Monday’s review of the milk chocolate and caramel bar, we shall now dispense with the silly {}s.

This bar was also comprised of six attached, filled segments. The dark chocolate was nicely tempered, making for a beautifully shiny bar.

That dark chocolate had a smooth, thick melt and lovely flavors. The cocoa depth was just wonderful and complex with a light sweetness and a hit of berry fruitiness.

For me, that dark chocolate was the highlight of the treat. If I knew who made it, I’d buy it for snacking on its own.

The center buttercream had an unexpectedly unusual texture. It was creamy with a light sugar graininess, but it was also thick and sticky with a cool melt.

Goop is a good descriptor, though I bet that doesn’t move as many bars off the shelf. It also occupied a weird state of matter, as it held its shape on its own but was also quite malleable.

That goop tasted like nicely dark chocolate frosting. It too, had an admirable depth of flavor, though it paled in comparison to the wonderful pure dark chocolate that it came in.

I liked this bar more than its caramel counterpart, though not enough to give it a boost in the ratings. If I had to choose just one to buy, I’d pick this one. An OM.

Category: chocolate, OM, review, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate filled with Caramel

March 5th, 2012 by Rosa

Trader Joe’s recently introduced a new line of Belgian chocolate bars {filled with} stuff. They made a big splash on my radar because one of them was {filled with} speculoos cookie spread, which is SO MUCH NOMS!, and my Trader Joe’s didn’t carry them and probably never will.

Instead, it carried the other two, caramel and chocolate buttercream. I’ll review the caramel today and save the chocolate buttercream for Wednesday.

I think the full name of this bar is Les Chocolats de Belgique Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate {filled with} Caramel. Why yes, those {} are rather silly. I shall now ignore them.

The chocolate bar was six conjoined segments of caramel-filled milk chocolate. There were a few tiny bubbles in the chocolate, but otherwise the surface looked smooth and matte.

The milk chocolate was solid enough to bite into with a slight snap, and it had a thick and tongue-coating melt. The chocolate alone was quite caramelly with  a dairy creaminess.

The center caramel was positively limpid. It was far too liquid to chew and just melted away on the tongue, leaving behind notes of scorched butter and sweet brown sugar.

One segment of this was delicious, so I broke off a second segment. To corroborate my tasting notes, of course.

The second segment took the sweetness level over the top. What was nice took on a sour, throat-burning tinge.

This is a bar to be savored one segment at a time. An OM if you can stop at just one chunk.

Category: caramel, chocolate, OM, review, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Soft Peanut Brittle

February 29th, 2012 by Rosa

Happy Leap Day! If you cry, Leap Day William might bring you some candy…

This bag of Soft Peanut Brittle was yet another Trader Joe’s impulse buy for me. I think its proper name is Trader Joe’s Soft Peanut Brittle Covered in Milk Chocolate.

The bag deemed it a “flaky, crispy peanutty treat.” It came in a stand-up pouch with 8 oz of treats inside.

The actual bits weren’t nearly as pretty as they looked on the package. The package depicted milk chocolate covered rectangles striped with contrasting dark chocolate.

In reality, my domino-sized brittles came out of the bag rather scuffed. The stripes and coating looked to be the same shade of semisweet chocolate brown to me.

The center brittle was a mix of pale golden brown and white. It snapped cleanly and sharply when bitten into.

I think the center was mostly sugar was small bits of peanut inside. It shattered into thin flakes stacked on top of each other. After chewing, the brittle got embedded in my molars.

The flavor started with a mild sugary sweetness before being taken over by a strong peanutiness. That nutty flavor was heavy with the thickness of peanut butter. It finished with a flash of saltiness that set everything off quite nicely.

The chocolate was mostly overshadowed by the sweet brittle center. It added just a bit of cocoa duskiness.

These were a touch too sweet for my taste, and a few pieces were too heavy on the salt. I also wished for some more burnt sugar complexity to the brittle, but I found them enjoyable enough nonetheless.

I think they’d  be great with ice cream, as the back of the bag suggests. An O.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Squares

February 27th, 2012 by Rosa

When I was checking out, my Trader Joe’s cashier commented on this tub of their Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Squares. She said it was one of her favorites.

The tub contained 9.5 ounces of square tiles of dark chocolate studded “with marshmallows and peanuts.” The squares were irregularly sized, with some more rectangular than square.

The peanut pieces were yellow and most were no bigger than a quarter peanut. The white marshmallow bits were similarly sized and looked more like crisped rice to me.

The chocolate had a thick snap and a non-smooth melt. It was on the sweet side for dark chocolate with a dusky, sweet finish.

The peanuts brought a mild nuttiness, while the marshmallows added a hint of sweetness and a light grainy crunch. Again, they were basically like rice crisps rather than marshmallow.

I thought these were okay, but they’re far from my favorite thing that Trader Joe’s makes, and I won’t buy them again. The add-ins were too mild to make much of a flavor difference and got lost in the mix. An O.

Category: chocolate, marshmallow, nuts, O, review, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries

February 15th, 2012 by Rosa

After I reviewed Brookside‘s Dark Chocolate Goji with Raspberry, Joanne noted that Trader Joe’s had a candy called Powerberries that was similar. I saw a bag on my latest Trader Joe’s trip and picked it up to see how they compared.

The Powerberries looked similar enough to the Brookside’s from the outside – same stand-up pouch packaging, similar product images, and the same boast of being a “natural source of flavanol antioxidants”.

It was enough to make me wonder if they were made by the same manufacturer (Trader Joe’s does a lot of repackaging).

Once I opened the package, however, I noticed a few differences. Though both products were shiny panned chocolate shells around jelly discs, the Powerberries were irregularly sized.

While the Brookside Goji pieces nearly all contained two back to back discs as a center sphere, the Powerberries contained between one and three discs (though most also contained two).

In general, the chocolate layer on the Powerberries was thicker than that on the Brookside, though there was some interpiece variability in both bags. That chocolate had a nice deep cocoa duskiness to it with a little thickness and graininess to the melt.

The discs felt grainy against my tongue. They had an instant jelly give with no chewiness and tasted of strawberry preserves with a deeper blueberry finish.

I enjoyed these, but I preferred the Brookside Goji version. Those were brighter and tarter and really let the juice centers sing.

The fruit juice centers of the Powerberries were nice, but they didn’t pop as much, mostly because they had thicker layers of chocolate to fight against.

The Trader Joe’s Powerberries were $3.49 for 8 oz, while the Brookside Goji chocolates were $3.99 for 7 oz at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. At that slight price differential, I’d go with the Brookside Goji. Still, I enjoyed the Trader Joe’s, so they get an OM on their own merits.

Cybele and Sera have also reviewed these. Cybele and one of her commenters say that they’re the same as Brookside Acai with Blueberry. My guess is that Brookside sells the uniformly sized ones under their own brand, while Trader Joe’s gets the more erratically sized ones to sell.

Category: chocolate, gummi/gummy, jelly candy, OM, review, Trader Joe's | 11 Comments »