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Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Pancake Mix

Trader Joe's Gingerbread Pancake Mix

Looks nice and festive, right?

Hmmm. Well, this is probably proof that the top brass at Trader Joe’s are devoted followers of this blog. No sooner do I suggest that TJ come up with a few more variations on their new Toasted Coconut Pancale Mix then does this appear on the shelf – Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Pancake Mix. It’s arrived just in time for the holiday festivities, so let’s dive in!

In my Toasted Coconut Pancake Mix review, I pointed out that while the coconut bits are pretty good, the real winner was the incredibly easy to make pancake mix itself. Trader Joe’s has brought to market a totally self-contained pancake kit that incorporates powdered eggs and powdered milk into the mix itself. All you need to supply is the water – either a little to end up with big puffy flapjacks, or a lot to end up with thin, dense crepes. This time around TJ’s ditched the coconut, and whipped up something much more in tune with the time of year – a gingerbread infused mix with crystallized ginger bits tossed right in.

While this sounds like it should be a grand slam, the pancake mix suffers from the unique problem of not being gingery enough, and being too gingery at the same time.

There are really two types of ginger in this pancake mix. The first is the ginger present in the gingerbread-like pancake batter itself. This is ginger doing the classic gingerbread thing, providing a pleasant aromatic lift to the rest of the dough and contributing just a hint of ginger taste. I was actually a little disappointed by how mild the ginger taste was in the pancake batter. Given the premise of “gingerbread pancakes”, I had assumed we’d be getting something akin to gingerbread cookies, just in a fluffier form. That’s not actually the case – this pancake mix is more gingerbread-inspired then gingerbread-infused. It tastes somewhat of gingerbread, but not so much that you would mistake it for a cookie in a blind taste test. While that’s a little disappointing to me personally, it’s by no means a deal breaker. The molasses, brown sugar and powdered ginger that do go in give it at least a hint of that warm and lovely taste of gingerbread, while retaining the supple mildness of the good ol’ fashioned pancake.

However, there is another issue. Possibly in order to compensate for the only mildly gingery batter, Trader Joe’s mixes in a heaping scoop of crystallized ginger bits. Not unlike it’s cousin Trader Joe’s Crispy Coconut Pancakes, the ginger bits are numerous, and wind up in each bite. The problem is that bits of crystallized ginger just don’t taste that great in pancakes.  There are a couple issues with it – the abrupt combination of textures, the fact that the heavy bits are prone to burn on the griddle – but the biggest issue is that ginger isn’t really an easy spice to use.

Although it’s commonly found in sweets in the form of gingerbread cookies, ginger is

Trader Joe's Gingerbread Pancake Mix 2

Thin-style, the way I likes ’em.

actually better suited for savory dishes, as in Indian and Thai cuisine – not sweet ones. Gingerbread only really works because the ginger is spread out through a good deal of sugar and thick batter. The crystallized ginger lumps in this pancake mix don’t taste like gingerbread at all – they just take like intense bits of ginger. These little gingery bursts don’t go particularly well with maple syrup and butter – instead they sort of throw the flavor off by hitting you with an abrupt, strong, clashing taste. And I say this as a crystallized ginger fan! For years I kept a little box of crystalized ginger in my desk drawer to snack on for a little mid-afternoon pick-me-up. I only stopped when it became clear that fusing my molars together with sugar-caked, sweet glue was not beneficial to healthy tooth enamel.

In the end, what you’re left with is a pretty tasty gingerbread(ish) pancake mix, with a bunch of intense ginger mixed in. The result is something that tastes less like a holiday treat and more like something from an Asian Fusion brunch special. It’s not terrible – but it is very striking. While it’s certainly interesting to try, if you’re looking for something to delight the kids with on Xmas morning this may not be the way to go.

Trader Joe, if you are taking suggestions from me now, keep the pancake mix but don’t stop trying out new flavors.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Not really. Ginger pancakes are interesting, but not incredible.

Would I Buy It Again: I’ll probably go back to the toasted coconut pancakes.

Final Synopsis: Nice gingerbready pancakes loaded up with too much ginger.

 

 

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Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Triple Ginger Cookie

 

Trader Joe's Dark Choclate Triple Ginger Cookies

Once again, the power or dark chocolate has been under estimated.

It doesn’t seem like you could go wrong with Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Triple Ginger Cookies. It’s holiday time, these are gingerbread cookies, it’s a match made in heaven! All you have to do to succeed, in my book, is deliver at least an average gingerbread cookie and I’ll keep you on my kitchen shelf though the New Year. These triple ginger cookies promise to do that and more, so I was pumped before I even picked up the box. Then I got a chance to rady the product copy. Let’s take a look at the promise on the beautiful, holiday themed package:

“Made with 3 types of giner, fresh, ground and chunks of crystallized ginger, then enrobed in a thin layer of dark chocolate, this is a snappy cookei with a acrunchy bite and a rich chocolate finish.”

Sounds sweet, right? But despite all this ginger, somehow, someway, these cookies conspire to taste completely un-gingery.

I think it’s safe to safe that if you’re going to claim that your cookies are not just double but triple ginger you had better put some damn ginger in them. Despite the claims on the packaging, despite even the list of ingredients detailing the types of ginger, these cookies simply do not taste very much like ginger. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that you’d be hard pressed to detect the taste of ginger in these at all. Surely he’s not being serious. Yes, folks, I am. What you get in these cookies is the strong, lingering taste of the dark chocolate (which is, actually, quite good) followed by nothing or, if you’ve bitten into one of the crystallized ginger bits, a faint taste of ginger that last for a brief moment. Trader Joe’s Triple Ginger Cookies are, at best, a lie whose only purpose is to ruin your holiday festivities.

Perhaps I go to far.

After all, these are pretty decent cookies when all is said and done. They may not taste like ginger very much at all (a brutal failure for a gingerbread cookie, to be sure), but the dark chocolate still works perfectly well. If you’re looking for a nice, small bittersweet chocolate cookie this would fit the bill perfectly. If these had been called “Trader Joe’s Super Dark Chocolate Cookies with a bit of Ginger”, I’d be writing a very happy article right now. Should have but didn’t – and it’s too late now to repair my hurt feelings.  If stripped of the dark chocolate, I dare say the ginger would rise admirable to the fore. Beneath the thick shell of ominipresent chocolate however, it is pushed so far into the background it nearly disappears.

My only other complaint with these is that the chocolate covering frustrates any attempt at achieving a satisfying dunk. While cookies are perfectly fine taken dry, most everyone can agree that a glass of milk or spot of tea can elevate even a very humble cookie to heavenly realms. Despite my best efforts to dunk these cookies in both tea and milk I was frustrated in every attempt. The same chocolate shell that dominates the taste is completely impermeable to liquid. I thought that a nice hot cup of Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend might melt away some of that cocoa bean carapace and give me a nice soft cookie upon which to sup, but all I got were chocolate smeared fingers and mugs.

Really, this would be an excellent cookie if they left the ginger out or took the chocolate off. Both together seems pointless.


The Breakdown

Would I Buy Them Again: No, without ginger they hold no appeal for me.

Would I Recommend Them: Only to people who want a dark chocolate cookie with a little, but not much, ginger taste.

Final Synopsis: Gingerbread cookies that taste like chocolate instead of ginger .

Trader Joe's Dark Choclate Triple Ginger Cookies - Nutrition Facts

Trader Joe’s Dark Choclate Triple Ginger Cookies – Nutrition Facts