Mango, goddammit, they had to bring me back in with the mango.
The mango in question is the mango in Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Mango Bites. For those of you who just joined us, mango drives me crazy. The Strong Anthropic Principal postulates that the purpose of the universe is to give rise to man so that it may experience itself. In my mind, the universe gave rise to man so that he may assist in the propagation of mangoes. Mangoes. Mangoes mangoes mangoes. I’m also fond of coconut.
This particular item was an automatic purchase for me – I don’t even remember the conscious impulse to pick them up. They were just suddenly there, in my hand, waiting to be purchased. Not, mind you, just because of the mango in it. If I were to give into my desire for mango at every turn I would find myself physically unable to push my cart out of the supermarket doors. I must maintain an unshakable iron will on that front. No, in this case it was the decision to enrobe the combination of these delectable exotic fruits in dark chocolate.
As I’ve pointed out before, dark chocolate is rather in vogue at the moment and undeservedly so. Dark chocolate simply cannot be applied to any given desert with same cavalier attitude of milk chocolate. More than one customer, I’m sure, has bitten into a piece of dark chocolate covered whatever and only then recalled, all to late, that dark chocolate is a fundamentally bitter and highly nuanced treat that plays well with very few others.
The existence of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Coconut Mango Bites was then either a further effrontery or a well-considered entrant into the world of taste. Given the sometimes uneven track record of Trader Joe,I was compelled to find out which.
The short answer is more the latter than the former.
Imagine your standard drugstore box of Valentine’s Day chocolates – the soft, rounded bricks of nougat covered in a chocolate shell. In terms of form, that’s what you’re getting here – just without the satin and lace. The texture matches this more common cousin exactly, smooth paste with a touch of coconut grit, and the taste isn’t far off either. Don’t come expecting a mango-flavor blast – they knew what they were doing when the gave it final billing in the product title. I’d describe the taste as only somewhat fruity and if the name had been left out of the title all together, you’d be hard pressed to identify it as such.
Obviously that’s a let down for me, but this blog isn’t about my personal feelings – it’s about whether something is worth eating or not, dammit. And this is worth eating. The dark chocolate’s bitterness is nicely matched with the sweeter candy center. It’s nowhere near as decadent as a Russell-Stover confection log, and that’s to its credit. This is a treat that slides over the tongue easily without the baggage of overbearing sweetness, a delicious morsel you can enjoy after lunch as easily as dinner. It’s a moderately sweet sweet, a sweet for people who find most sweets too sweet.
Would I recommend it: Yup.
Would I buy it again: Yes, mango or no.
Final Synopsis: This is one case where going for dark chocolate was the right move.
After yesterday’s disastrous beet and purple carrot juice, I thought I finally thought I had had enough of seemingly preposterous food pairings. Why not judge a book by its cover? You might be wrong every now and then, but you’ll be right about 95% of the time. Surely I could live with that, right? I was fooling myself, of course, as I said before the unknown allure of seemingly insane couplings holds an irresitable draw for me. Here it is, the very next day and I’m back at it again with a treat that couldn’t sound worse to me on paper.
Chocolate covered potato chips. Honestly, I’m surprised this combination even crossed anyone’s mind to begin with. The name easily evokes the sloppiest, laziest summer days of youth when, with one hand, I might casually shove a handful of chocolate into my mouth then supplement it with a handful of chips from the other, not bother with all the effort of clearing my esophagus in between. Homer Simpsons’ famous Gum & Nuts comes to mind, along with any number of childhood’s boderline creations (popcorn and ketchup, apple butter and ice cream). In other words, I was ready for mediocrity at best.
Consider my gob smacked when I actually tried these things. The sweet taste of milk chocolate melts seamlessly into the salty kiss of the potato chip, all bound up in a pleasurable crunchy bite. All but overwhelmingly delicious, this crazy confection literally sat my ass down. After crunching the initial test chip my tongue quickly cited that well known edict “This Is Effin’ Good!” and summarily took charge of all cognitive and motor functions, pleasuring itself with chip after chip. It was only through a great exercise of self-control later on that I was able to salvage about half the bag. We’re talking dangerously good folks. Salty, crunchy and sweet altogether, without being too much of one or another – this chip had everything that I didn’t even know I was looking for.
No downsides here, but maybe a couple suggestions. These came packaged in the same way as Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter thingies, which is to say with no consideration for the inherent meltiness of chocolate. No problems yet, but it’s just not a good idea to sell chocolate all jumbled together in a bag. Also, the bag is quite small, but I’m inclined to consider this a good thing at the moment since these things are guaranteed diet-killers. Overall though, these chips are a sweet, secret surprise.
Would I Recommend Them: Yes sir, I would.
Would I Buy Them Again: So long as I’m not worried about sticking to a diet.
Final Synopsis: Chocolate and Potato Chips – the definition of synergy.
What do we seek, in this world, beside a little sweetness in our lives? Is it toffee? Today, I decided to find out.
The Trader Joe’s by my house has an impressively diverse toffee selection, but of them all these crazy little buggers always leapt out at me. Pistachio, right on man, sea green pistachio slapped almost drunkenly all over the outside of an otherwise normal looking toffee morsel. The moment I saw them, I was captivated by how off-putting they looked – something about the way the crushed nuts sit on the chocolate coating make them look like they were picked up of the laundry room floor. Overcoming my momentary repulsion, I brought them to the counter and had them rung up. After all, eating strange, off-putting things is what this blog is all about.
As one does when one comes into possession of some toffee, I freely offered it to those around me the rest of the day. Interestingly, everyone responded in almost exactly the same way I did: with an initial chilly refusual followed by a slow change of mind that came almost to their own surprise. I think the thought process goes something like, “Those look weird,” followed by, “Wait a minute, pistachio and toffee?! This could be a brilliant new taste sensation!”
Alas, all high hopes were dashed. Crushed pistachios on dark chocolate toffee taste, basically, like toffee. As one of my fellow taste tasters put it – “it tastes like Almond Roca”, which is basically what it is. But what of the dark chocolate, the pistachios? Do they not elevate this into a more elite form of toffee? Man, I gotta tell you – really they do not. The intense butterscotch blast of the toffee effortlessly overpowers the nuances of the chocolate and nuts, and the nutty coating effectively prevents you from sucking on a piece and appreciating it. Is it still awesome? Sure, it’s toffee – but that’s about all it is. I will say that if you eat a couple pieces then wait – wait until after the butterscotch has faded, then wait until after the chocolate has faded – at somewhere around the 3 minute mark BAM!!!, the lingering taste of pistachios will totally be there.
Is that what I thought I was getting? No. Was I naively conflating the taste of sweet pistachio ice cream with the real taste of ordinary pistachio nuts and imaging some sort of sublime transcendent treat to match this toffee’s awkward exterior? Perhaps. If you are seeking that exotically flavored toffee look elsewhere, it is not here.
Would I Recommend It: Can’t think of a reason to recommend it over any other.
Would I Buy It Again: Naw.
Final Synopsis: You can do what you want to toffee, the toffee don’t care.