I’m typing this post with sticky fingers. No, not because I’m engaged in unsavory, graphic acts. Shame on you for thinking that. My fingers are sticky because I’m currently knuckle-deep in a brand new jar of Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl – the latest development in TJ’s now three-prong assault on American waistlines known as cookie butter. As readers of this blog know, I’m hopelessly in the thrall of cookie butter, and avoid buying it simply because it will plunge me into mango levels of reckless binging.
I got into the whys and hows cookie butter before. As you’re all probably now aware, Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter was their own version of what is also known as biscoff spread, a peanut butter like spread where instead of peanuts there are finely ground speculoos cookies. I won’t rehash old news, but suffice to say that Trader Joe’s take on the delicious condiment outstripped the original in both taste and texture – creating a mind-blowingly delectable taste sensation and a brand new way to eat cookies.
Trader Joe’s followed up this first miraculous, iPhone level market disruption with a second version, crunchy cookie butter, some months later. The iPhone 4S to cookie butter’s iPhone 4, if you will – a variation on the original theme. Which is why this new approach, the cookie butter cocoa swirl, is so exciting. Trader Joe’s is, for the first time, legitimately attempting to innovate their ground breaking product. But do they succeed?
Like most of you cookie butter fans out there, I’ve tried adding cookie butter to everything and anything that will hold its weight. I’ve put it on everything from celery to croissants, I’ve baked it into cookies, used it on pancakes and even tried spreading it on other speculoos cookies. The results have always been the same – no matter what cookie butter is combined with, it isn’t better than cookie butter by itself. As I pointed out in my first post, cookie butter is like pure, elemental gold. You can add anything to it you like, but you’ll only end up with a less pure gold.
That said, Trader Joe’s clearly decided to take a proper run at clearing this particular hurdle. Before cookie butter came on the scene and took its throne, the previous regent of sweet, spreadable condiments was Nutella – the thick hazelnut and chocolate spread of your dreams. Trader Joe’s has whipped up their own version of Nutella for this product – a mixture of 8% cocoa powder, vanilla flavoring, hazelnuts and cocoa butter. So what happens when you combine a #1 with the former #1? The answer, rather predictably, is that you get a #2. In other words, Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl is beautifully delicious but simply not as good as cookie butter by itself.
Where do I get off making such a claim, you ask. Who am I to judge between two angels? To you sir, I say set down the two side by side and conduct a taste taste for yourself.
Let’s eat a nice spoonful of this new cookie butter and cocoa swirl. Do you taste that wonderful cookie butter taste? That delicious silky smoothness that’s bursting with impossibly rich speculoos cookie goodness? But pay attention now, notice how the chocolate flavor rises to the fore, overpowering the comparatively subtler and more complex flavor of the cookie butter. It’s a good taste at first, for a moment they mingle together in a perfect balance. Then the chocolate takes control, blanketing your tongue in a heavy chocolate flavor. Notice how that chocolate taste continues to linger on the tongue, not just immediately on swallowing but long after. Wait long enough and you’ll notice it almost becomes sour at the edges of your tongue. Not exactly an unpleasant taste, and to be sure you’ll be going back to the jar for more, but it’s just not quite as good as regular cookie butter is it?
Nutella by itself is wonderful. Cookie butter by itself is even better. Combining the two is a noble idea, but their child, unfortunately, is a bastard unfit to claim the cookie butter throne.
Would I Recommend It: Yes – but only if you’ve already tried regular cookie butter.
Would I Buy It Again: There’s no reason for me to choose this over pure cookie butter.
Final Synopsis: Even when mixed with nutella, you can’t improve on cookie butter.