Advertisements

Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Latte

Trader Joe's Gingerbread Latte Mix

Another season, another tin of powdered drink mix. Despite a wealth of previous data suggesting that Trader Joe’s should not be powdering drinks and selling them in cans, they’ve gone ahead and done it again with Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Latte a “naturally flavored” drink mix. The result is predictably terrible, BUT it’s also surprisingly awful. Yes, a bit of a mixed bag with this one.

Ranking: 1 stars 

1 star rating

What it is: Terrible, flavored coffee mix.
Price: $4.49 for a 10 oz. tin.
Worth it: No, dreadful.

Do not buy, drink or serve Trader Joe’s Gingerbread Latte Naturally Flavored Drink Mix. If someone else buys it for you or serves it to you, you should come up with some way to punish them. (Throw a cup of cold water on them while they’re in the shower?) If they drink it themselves, just leave them alone – that’s punishment enough.

Trader Joe’s has disappointed before with similar powdered drink mixes – such as their Tropical Green Tea Powder, and Green Tea Matcha Powder, both of which were unpleasant tasting, messy, and bad for you. This Gingerbread Latte Mix is all that and more. The first thing I want to bring up is how fatty and sugary this stuff is. There’s a lot I can forgive in a healthy food. As I’ve written about before, you have to grade health food on a curve. If Trader Joe’s is serving you some low-cal spinach dip, it’s not fair to hold it up in comparison to a full calorie, and undoubtedly more delicious, spinach dip. To a point, you’re not buying diet food for the the taste, you’re buying it because you’re on a diet.

Well, as far as I’m concerned, the opposite case is in  effect with high-cal, fattening food. I will gladly eat you, you globs of sugary fat, but you’d better taste good enough to justify it. For instance, if you’re going to serve me unpalatable kale chips as a replacement for Doritos, they had better not have more calories than the Doritos.

This Gingerbread Latte is the absolute textbook case of something not being worth the calories. In each 28 gram serving of drink mix, there are 20 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of fat. The other 2 grams? The coffee and spices I guess. This is literally nothing but sugar and fat, and tastes terrible. Terrible and feeble. If you pour enough of the drink mix into a cup of hot water in it will taste sweet, however any sort of gingerbread taste, or “notes of ginger, clove and cinnamon”, are completely masked by the awful artificial creamer stuff that makes up the bulk of this mix. This dried creamer consists of coconut oil, lots of maltodextrin, and all sorts of other gross powders used to artificially render a sort of quasi-dairy taste into white, shelf-stable powder.

Fine, yes, it has artificial creamer in it. That makes it bad coffee, but God knows I’ve resorted to artificial creamer more than once in my life. The real problem is that this creamer simply does not dissolve – not in water, not in milk. Heat it all you like, stir it up all you like, leave it to sit as long as you want – you’ll still be left with scores of tiny, undissolved flecks of some oily substance – little globules that scum up on top of the coffee and stay plastered to the side of your mug when you’re done.

This latte mix is cheap and it’s terrible and it tastes bad and it’s bad for you. If you need to wake up in the morning and this is all you have in the house, just slam your hand in the oven and go to work. At least there are fewer calories that way.

I’m not saying don’t drink hot cups of spiced coffee over the winter, I’m saying you can do better than this. Hell, you can do better than this in your own kitchen with some coffee, whole milk and cinnamon-sugar. Or just go to Starbucks, if you don’t care about the calories. That Starbucks coffee is pretty good – and it’s waaaaaaay better than lame excuse for a pick-me-up. Even the Trader Joe’s instant powdered coffee stuff is way better (As we’ve talked about before with Trader Joe’s powered coffee packets).

The general point I’m trying to make is, I don’t like this latte mix and I wouldn’t recommend purchasing it. I could go, but it’s almost time for the next blogger guy to come in so I’d better wrap things up. To ensure a happy holiday season, skip this stuff.


The Breakdown

Would I Recommend It: Hmmmm, no.

Would I Buy It Again: *Shakes head, slowly and sadly*

Final Synopsis: Really gross instant coffee.

 

 

 

Advertisements

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.

 

 


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