Yowza, cookie butter is back – this time in bite-sized cheesecake form! Let out the angelic choir and ring the church bell until it cracks – happy days are here again!
Or wait a minute. Am I being too hasty?
After all, didn’t Trader Joe’s full-sized Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake fall a little short of the mark? And isn’t it true that while Speculoos Cookie Butter is, by itself, the finest achievement humankind has ever produced, that most of Trader Joe’s cookie butter spin offs have suffered from the difficulty of living up to the bar set by their near-perfect progenitor?
Yes, as we’ve seen time and time again, speculoos cookie butter, when mixed with other things, is almost never as good as cookie butter by itself. Yes, these cheesecake bites are delicious – delicate, decadent and the perfect size to indulge on without feeling guilty. However, while they succeed as cheesecake bites, they don’t actually taste like cookie butter.
This probably isn’t the end of the world. Any cheesecake is better than no cheesecake, and certainly speculoos cheesecake bites are much better than no cheesecake bites at all. They only real problem I have is, if you’re going to sell me on cookie butter, I expect the cookie butter to be there. In this case, despite the mouthwatering nature of each pretty little bite, there just isn’t any cookie butter taste to speak of.
Even though the top of each bite is swirled with a little smear of cookie butter, that taste doesn’t come through. There’s some magic something in cookie butter that is lost as soon as you start blending it into other deserts, and in this case it’s lost almost completely. Compare these to the Trader Joe’s full-sized cookie butter cheesecake. That whole cake was layered with a thick schmear of delicious speculoos, and it still lost something in the execution.
On the other hand, this is Trader Joe’s very first foray into making cheesecake bites, and as an experimental product, I love it! It’s a cold, hard fact that cheesecake is the best damn desert a person can hope for – and it’s an equally cold, hard fact that if you eat more than a slice and a half of cheesecake in one sitting your heart will clog up and explode. These cheesecake bites allow you to indulge in a bite-sized square (or three) of cheesecake, satisfying that craving without blowing out all your fitness goals.
As a way to get people on board for bite-sized cheesecake squares, it makes sense to launch the product with that cookie butter name recognition. However, as a cookie butter product, they don’t really stand up to scrutiny. TJ, you should have more faith in your delicious cheesecake recipe – these are delicious by themselves, with or without cookie butter.
Would I Recommend It: Yup, as long as you aren’t hankering for a cookie butter fix.
Would I Buy Them Again: Yeah, the next time a cheesecake craving strikes.
Final Synopsis: Great as little bites of cheesecake, not so great as a cookie butter delivery system.
Stop the presses folks. World shaking news is afoot.
Look, we all know and love Cookie Butter,we love it crunchy, we love it as ice cream, we even love it when it’s made from Oreo cookies. Now Trader Joe’s has taken it all two steps further by putting it on cheesecake. Yes, you read that right – cookie butter cheesecake – just in time for the holidays.
For those of you who are still, bafflelingly, in the dark about cookie butter, it’s that miraculous creamy substance that replaces the peanuts in peanut butter with ground up speculoos cookie. Reminiscent of sugar cookies and ginger bread, this creamy, sweet, smooth and delicious treat is so good that it makes peanut butter look like parsley. It’s simply fantastic.
What TJ’s has dared to do here is spread a thick shmear of cookie butter across the top of an ordinary cheesecake, then set the whole thing in a crust made from crushed up speculoos cookies. Brilliant move on both accounts. Resisting the temptation to mix the cookie butter into the cheesecake filling itself is absolutely the right move – choosing to let the cookie butter speak for itself instead of diluting it with lesser sugars. The cookie crust is just a little extra flourish that adds a tasty touch to an already very tasty cake.
As we’ve noted before, Trader Joe’s has struggled to trump their simple, flagship creation, ordinary cookie butter. The issue is that cookie butter is so good on its own that mixing it with anything – even if that anything is nutella, tastes less delicious. It’s like we’re dealing with cocaine – the more stuff you cut that sweet nose candy with, the less pure it becomes.
It’s a daunting task, but combining cookie butter with cheesecake is brilliant enough that it seems it might work. If there’s anything in this world as rich and decadent as cookie butter, it’s cheesecake. Maybe even more so! Isn’t it possible that the whole thing is going to be a mouth-melting act of dietary terrorism so rich that the smallest slice will overwhelm all but the stoutest gourmands?
As it turns out – no. Despite all the potential, cookie butter cheesecake falls short of its promise.
“How could that possibly be,” you may be wondering, “Given such a pedigree?”
Well, I’m certainly not saying it isn’t a good cheesecake. It is. It’s very good – sweet, creamy, smooth and delicious. No one will be turning down a slice of this cheesecake after dinner. It won’t be going back into the freezer for another day. This is a fine and tasty cheesecake that people will eat up despite themselves.
That said, I was disappointed by my first bite. I expect cookie butter to be exceptional, and this cheesecake isn’t particularly exceptional in any way. It’s entirely tasty, but it’s not going to blow your mind or anything. Again, that’s not really an insult. The cake is well thought through. Trader Joe’s obviously considered making a much more decadent cheesecake and pulled back. What you get is not as overwhelmingly sweet as you might imagine. Both the cheesecake filling and the cookie butter topping seems less intense than they usually are. Here, this works to their advantage. The one seems to mellow out the intense, rich taste of the other, making it much easier to enjoy a whole slice of this cheesecake than it is to enjoy a whole spoonful of cookie butter by itself.
While this works for the cake, and works quite deliciously, it doesn’t elevate the dessert to either the cookie butter or cheesecake hall of fame. The fact of the matter is that I’ve had other cheesecakes, non cookie-butter cheesecakes, that are better than this one. Given the immense calorie value and special occasion status of cheesecake, I’m looking for something stunning to put in my mouth – not merely good.
It’s a noble try, and a delicious one, but the quest for a superior form of cookie butter continues.
Would I Recommend It: Yes, this is a pretty good cheesecake, and worth a try for cookie butter lovers.
Would I Buy It Again: Probably not. There are better cheesecakes (and cookie butter products) out there.
Final Synopsis: Good – but not as good as it sounds.