Snacking on life, living off snacks.

Posts Tagged ‘sweets’

Review: Chocolate cake mix

In Uncategorized on 11/03/2010 at 1:36 am

While I was underwhelmed about the yellow cake mix and frosting, the chocolate cake mix was wildly successful. I made cupcakes for a Halloween party, in which we stuck Milano cookies on top as tombstones!

If there was one defining characteristic of the cupcake, it’s the moistness. Like an insta-humidifier, it made even the pumpkin muffins in the shared tupperware super-moist. It made the Milano cookies soft. The paper wrappers were almost soggy.

But complaining that a cupcake is too moist is like complaining the weather is too nice, or that sushi is too fresh. The chocolate taste was not overwhelming, nor too sweet. Just right.

I used melted butter instead of oil in the mix, and used TJ’s chocolate frosting mix. Fabulous.

You can’t really see the photo below, but if it were touchable I guarantee you your fingers would be moisturized, not to mention tasty.

Chocolate cake mix: 4.5/5 pelts

Yellow Cake Mix, Chocolate Frosting Mix

In Uncategorized on 10/02/2010 at 4:45 am

These were the shiny new things on the shiny new product shelf at TJ’s. Requiring a grand total of 3 sticks of butter, I set to work in making a cake and cupcakes.

I was initially fearful that the yellow cake mix would not taste sweet enough, and I was right. Unequivocally, my test subjects reported that the cake tasted squarely like cornbread. Sweet cornbread.

I put too much water in the frosting, but it tasted fine enough. Slathered on the cornbread, er, yellow cake, it made for an interesting contrast. I ate this cake for breakfast for three days. That’s not really relevant to anything, but seems like the sort of thing one would need to confess.

I wasn’t a huge fan of either, but they were moist,  ridiculously buttery, and easy to make. They are good alternatives to the more frou frou Madagascar Vanilla and truffle brownie mixes. I would stick to my artificial Duncan Hines and funfetti frosting, but that’s just my palate.

Yellow cake mix: 3/5 pelts

Chocolate frosting mix: 3/5 pelts.

Review: Macarons a la Parisienne

In Uncategorized on 07/23/2010 at 3:44 am

These are the most amazing things I’ve ever bought from Trader Joe’s.  So amazing that I didn’t have time to take a picture and post it. This is an urgent matter of national importance. The vanilla buttercream and chocolate ganache macarons (not to be confused with the coconut American cookie) are transcendent. Delicate, complex, creamy, without being overly sweet. Very dainty little things that are probably meant to be consumed in a dainty manner with pinkies up. (You can guess that’s not the way I, a brute American, consume them.) Also, at $4.99 for 10, not super cheap, but cheaper than the $1-2 a pop you procure from the local cafe.

When they inexplicably disappeared from the freezer aisle (not that inexplicably I guess since things seem to come and go mysteriously at TJ’s), I entered into near panic. Thankfully, a (somewhat scared) employee told me they’d be back in the store between 8am-10am on Wednesday.

There are now 2 boxes residing safely in my fridge.

Get thee to a Trader Joe’s and buy some, now. Maintenant. Maintenant!

Macarons a la Parisienne: 5/5 pelts

Review: Righteous Rounds

In Uncategorized on 01/11/2010 at 3:39 am

First off, apologies for the long hiatus. This blog is not going to die, I promise. There are too many random, bizarre snacks in the aisles of Trader Joe’s to be reviewed!

Starting with… Righteous Rounds. They are so named because of their beneficial ingredients. Or maybe some surfer dude named them, which would account for the waves on the package. I digress. The description and ingredient list on the back of the bag make it sound truly heinous. But is that unfair? Let’s see. To avert any sort of possible copyright violation of the delectable-sounding prose on said back of the bag, here’s just a summary:

- the cookies contain good-for-you ingredients such as fruit and vegetable concentrates including broccoli, carrot, cranberries, orange, and tomato. There’s also soy protein. I’m surprised they didn’t throw in echinaecea, gingko biloba, and wheatgrass in there either, just for good measure.

- they aren’t actually baked, they’re heated at most to 75 degrees. They’re dehydrated in order to preserve the lycopene and beta-carotene and other -enes that probably are good for us.

I was very intrigued when I saw this product, because I feel that making desserts good for you while maintaining deliciousness is a worthy cause on par with ending climate change and saving the whales.

I’m sad to report that all these issues remain intractable.

The cookies are rather hard and chalky. After I fed some to my friends, they described them as “tangy” and with “a weird aftertaste.” Luckily, none of the fruit and veggie concentrates are immediately detectable (nor will you get bits of broccoli stuck in your teeth, since all of this stuff is not visibly present), but the cookie definitely does not taste normal. If I ate this cookie without knowing the contents, I would say it was a subpar, strange specimen that tasted vaguely sour. The chocolate chips help a lot, but it’s not exactly a cookie you can’t stop scarfing down.

And maybe that is the point! For all its 12% daily value of dietary fiber and 50% Vitamin A (but props for only having 9g of sugar– that’s like three times less than some yogurts), perhaps the true public service and nutritional benefit is the fact that you really can stop eating these after one or two.

Keeping your hands out of the cookie jar. Thanks Trader Joe’s! Saving the world from too much cookie consumption– now that’s truly righteous.

Righteous Rounds: 2/5 pelts

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Review: Froyo

In Uncategorized on 11/17/2009 at 3:13 am

Trader Joe’s Plain Non Fat Frozen Yogurt

I don’t know about you, but I loveeeee froyo. While I’m not a huge fan of ultra-tart Pinkberry (I prefer Yogurtland or the sadly-now-defunct YoBerry. RIP.), I will order frozen yogurt if it is available.  I like slightly more sweet froyo, especially if you dump a pound of mochi on it. I once went to a Red Mango and just ordered the mochi. “Just the mochi?” said the cashier. “Yeah, just mochi.” “You don’t want yogurt?” he replied. “Nope, just mochi.” He gives me a strange look. “Look, I know it’s weird, but it’s so good and chewy,” I said. “Oh… kay.” Seriously, can’t a girl go into a frozen yogurt shop and just order a topping without getting a look like I just spoke in Martian?

The sad thing is most frozen yogurt joints are pretty far from me without a car. A couple years ago, I lived literally 3 minutes away from a frozen yogurt shop. I remember going there in the dead of winter and then running back home with it, freezing to death without a coat but warm inside knowing that my froyo was not going to melt. I realize the imagery is a bit sad.

So it was with utter joy when I saw this groovy-artistic carton screaming “pleasantly tart with active cultures”  in the frozen foods aisle at TJ’s. Froyo in a carton?!

If you like your frozen yogurt tart, and I mean tart– pucker your lips, kiss a lemon–then I would recommend TJ’s froyo. It’s not unbearably tart, but definitely not sweet.  At all. So I was surprised to read it actually has 13 grams of sugar for something so unsweet.The texture is more ice-creamy than froyo-y for obvious reasons, and usually I have to let it stand for a few minutes so the iciness will thaw out.

I’ve tried several toppings with it. Nutella (no), cookie crumbs (not bad), cranberry-apple butter (um, if you like tartness extra tarty),  frozen fruit (doable), and raspberry jam (the best, strangely enough, to balance the tart flavor).

I miss the consistency of froyo though. The smooth creaminess of it all. But this culturally- active tarty little number will have to do.

Trader Joe’s Plain Non Fat Frozen Yogurt: 3/5 pelts

Review: Bake shop chocolate chip cookies

In Uncategorized on 10/13/2009 at 4:02 am

When I really like a food, I really like it. I will seek it out and keep eating it until it suddenly loses appeal (rarely) or until I feel guilty about it (usually).  (See: challah).  As a child, this inclination manifested itself in multiple bowls of west lake beef soup (a Chinese egg drop soup of which my parents would have to order extra in order to sate me), and untold bowls of white rice (which I could eat on its own. I think my record was 8 bowls.) As an adult, this has meant spur-of-the-moment cravings of graham cracker pie crust (I can put away an entire crust in one sitting) and mochi topping from froyo joints (sometimes I just order mochi sans froyo).

Not really a good thing, come to think of it. My solution for these matters is usually to not buy it at all if I feel there may be the temptation to overly love it, or to find mechanisms to encourage moderation. For example, one time at a retreat, in order to stop myself from eating more than half an ice cream sandwich, I poured water all over the other half, while the rest of my table howled in dissent.

The funny thing is I always think I can rise above it. In a burst of ambition, I will buy something thinking I can eat it like normal people do, and then surprise/disappoint myself when I demolish it. Don’t get me wrong; for 99 percent of food items I eat like normal people. And I’m generally a pretty healthy eater. But Achilles’ heels are Achilles’ heels, okay?

That’s a long intro to my review for these chocolate chip cookies I bought in a moment of weakness at TJ’s. They’re the soft, chewy kind sitting on the bread shelf, made with molasses and real butter. Normally I’m loathe to buy baked goods, since I figure I can bake them myself. I rationalized this time that I would bake my own chocolate chip cookies and compare them. HA! These cookies didn’t stand a chance. It was like free t-shirts at a software convention. Gone. As soon as I tasted the soft, subtle goodness of the dough and the big fat semisweet chocolate chips, it was over. I think I finished them in 2 days.

They were fabulous. Absolutely delicious. 5/5 pelts.

Which is why I’ll never buy them again.

Look at the jelly in my belly

In review on 09/22/2009 at 3:42 am

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I think this blog is going to cost me a pretty penny. Seeing as I buy completely superfluous products like above, things I would never, ever buy unless I was say, reviewing them for some random blog, the frivolous purchases will start piling up.

But who can blame me when TJ’s comes up with something so ridiculous as translucent gummy penguins with juice in their bellies? A throwback to the elementary school reign of Gushers (remember those? ), these candies are imported from France, of all places. Mais oui, le pingouin!

Of course, these gummies are only a novelty. They didn’t taste particularly interesting. In fact, the gelatin was quite hard to chew. The fruity insides were not overly sweet, and didn’t taste as artificial as I had anticipated. I passed these out to everyone at a party, and the verdict seemed somewhere between ambivalent and positive.

I don’t know if it’s just me though, but it seemed slightly… morbid to be decapitating a gelatin penguin while sucking up its insides. It also summoned my complicated feelings about gelatin. I’m not a huge Jello fan (unless you’re talking about the almond variety), and I only occasionally eat gummy bears. But if ever you want to passively aggressive annoy your vegan friends, I suggest sending them a package of these Gummy Tummies Penguins With Soft Tummies. Not only will you a) encourage the consumption of a replica of an animal but also b) symbolically affirm dismemberment of said animal representation AND c) subversively send them something MADE from animals. Gelatin, after all, is animal collagen (well, whatever’s left over after zebras get Botox), also known as the substance from animal joints.  Forget Omaha steaks, nothing says “your lifestyle sucks” more than this cutesy-grotesque animal death candy. I’m sure somewhere in PETA headquarters, there is a campaign being cooked up to stop this atrocity. 2/5 pelts.

Review: PB&J Bar

In review on 09/16/2009 at 4:03 am

For my first item, I chose this outlandish-sounding bar from the “New Products” shelf.

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PB&J Bar: with peanut butter, milk and dark chocolate, raspberry jam, and crushed potato chips on the inside.

Mind you, I would never of my own volition choose to eat such a concoction. No, dear reader, I chose to spend $1.99 and more importantly, 19% of my potential love handle allocation to review this for everyone’s collective curiosity.

My roommates also generously partook in this review. We cut the thick bar into thin slices and analyzed the confluence of flavors. (We are not professional food critics, but I’d like to think we have semi-discerning palates that rank somewhere above kid-friendly-I-only-like-frosting but probably below that of Anton Ego from Ratatouille.)

There was a definite crunch at first, but you couldn’t see the potato chip pieces, which was frustrating. I had envisioned the potato chips being sprinkled on top of the chocolate for a pleasant sweet-savory sensation, but instead it was embedded inside synthetic-tasting peanut butter. The bottom layer was raspberry jam, and the whole thing was encased in a nondescript milk/dark chocolate layer.

It was sadly unsatisfying. I didn’t really know what this bar was trying to achieve. The saltiness did not stand out or complement, and the gumminess of the peanut butter was a turnoff. Furthermore, the $2 price tag and excessive fuchsia packaging (a box and a wrapper for one bar!) probably alienates TJ’s treehugger fan base. Not to mention it clocks in at 300 calories and 40 percent saturated fat/daily value. Tsk tsk.

In sum, this bar screamed “pet project!” or “throw darts on a board product” all over it. I imagine the dialogue at some Trader Joe’s product development office to be as follows:

Read the rest of this entry »

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