Trader Joe’s Extraordinary Bark

Since there were a few lingering holiday items at Trader Joe’s, I wanted to grab them before they disappeared. This time, I got Trader Joe’s Extraordinary Bark of the Finest Collection ($3.99)– “dark chocolate bark with layers of mini milk chocolate peanut butter cups, pretzels, caramel popcorn and crushed almonds.” It wasn’t mentioned in their description, but this bark also has Joe Joe cookies on top!

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Before opening the package, I wondered if the bark would be hard to manage because it looked so ginormous and intense. But, once I opened the package, I saw that it was the perfect thickness and the bark pieces broke off easily. There’s so much going on with this bark that you get a different flavor and texture in each bite. It was fun, delicious, and surprisingly easy to eat. The caramel popcorn was not as crispy/crunchy as I like, but other than that, this candy bar was delightful. This bark is certainly extraordinary, and it makes the perfect holiday treat.

 

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Trader Jacque’s Vanilla Eclairs with Chocolate Fondant

I love eclairs. Trader Joe’s had a great deal on Vanilla Eclairs with Chocolate Fondant for $2.99. Each box contains 4 eclairs.

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Make sure you allow enough time for the eclairs to defrost sufficiently. The box suggests defrosting at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour or in the refrigerator overnight. After defrosting at room temperature for 30 minutes, the filling was still a little frozen (but still tasty)… I would recommend at least 1 hour to an 1 hour 30 minutes if you want to defrost at room temperature.

However, it seemed to defrost the best when left in the refrigerator overnight.

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30 min at room temp
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90 min at room temp
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refrigerated overnight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These eclairs have a perfect balance of chocolate fondant, choux pastry, and vanilla cream filling. The pastry is light and airy, and the subtle vanilla flavored cream is sweet but not too sweet. Although I prefer to have fresh eclairs, (the texture of the cream feels defrosted, rather than fresh), they are still a great buy for $2.99.

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Trader Joe’s Pear & Persimmon Tarte

I’ve heard great things about Trader Joe’s Pear & Persimmon Tarte and I was curious to try it. On a recent Trader Joe’s visit it was discounted from $3.99 to $1.99, so I had to get it.

It is pretty easy to prepare. Just let it defrost for about an hour at room temperature (or maybe a little more), then bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees.

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slightly bigger than the size of my hand

This tarte is delicious, and such a steal for $1.99 (I have a feeling it won’t last in the stores long!). The crust is wonderful – it is my favorite crust out of the pies/tartes I’ve tried from Trader Joe’s soย far. They taste like shortbread cookies – crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. The sprinkle of granulated sugar on top is a nice touch.

I also really like the filling. It doesn’t really taste like persimmon…it tastes more like peach-apricot, but it’s still tasty. There are some pear pieces in the filling, but not as big as in the picture on the package. The fruit filling is complimented well by the subtle frangipane (almond paste) underneath it.

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inside view

Overall, this tarte kind of reminds me of a bigger, fancier version of thumbprint cookies. I loved thumbprint cookies as a kid, but rarely had them. This dessert is also sweet, but not too sweet…it is perfect when warm and would pair nicely with a hot cup of tea ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

Artisola sweet potato & herb ravioli with Artisola creamy butternut sauce

In the refrigerated section in the cheese area of Whole Foods, I found Artisola’s artisanal pastas and sauces. They’re a little pricey, but they were recently on sale at Whole Foods ๐Ÿ˜€ I got the Sweet Potato & Herb Ravioli ($7.99) and the Creamy Butternut Sauce ($7.99).

The pasta is super easy to make – just boil gently for 3.5 minutes. I heated up the sauce in a saucepan briefly before covering the cooked ravioli with it. There were 11 pieces in this package – so each person gets 5.5 if you share ๐Ÿ˜‰

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topped with basil leaves
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inside view

I love the texture of this pasta – it was perfectly al dente. Also, it is gluten-free asย itย is made of corn and rice flour. I thought the flavor of the ravioli was on the bland side…I could taste the subtle sweetness of the sweet potato, but I couldn’t really detect the cheese or herb flavors (ingredients include ricotta cheese, cream, cheese, parmesan cheese, and spices). However, the delicious sauce made the flavor pop! This organic sauce was creamy, cheesy, and super flavorful.

I love that the pasta and sauce had no artificial ingredients, flavors, colors, or preservatives. The sauce was pretty amazing, but I actually preferred the Trader Joe’s ravioli to the Artisola ravioli – especially for the price. Perhaps I will combine the Artisola sauce with the Trader Joe’s ravioli next time ๐Ÿ˜›

 

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Trader Joe’s Chocolate Pecan Pudding Pie

I had been eyeing Trader Joe’s Chocolate Pudding Pie since I first spotted it this fall, and I finally decided to get it for a New Year’s treat. The person at the check-out counter gave it a raving review, so I was super excited to try it. Recently, I tried the Fruitcake BARย and it had become a favorite holiday treat and I wasn’t sure if anything could beat it ๐Ÿ˜›

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The pie is “fully baked,” so all you have to do is remove it from the box and leave it in the fridge for 1.5 to 2 hours. I let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours because it has been unseasonably cold in Florida and it feels like a refrigerator in my house ๐Ÿ˜›

The box has a picture of a beautiful, luscious, decadent chocolate pie covered with a bounty of pecans on top. When I first took the pie out of the package, I was a little disappointed…”where are the pecans??” After I cut into the pie, I noticed that the pecans were inside the pie.

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view from the side

The pie tastes like a ย rich chocolatey, super gooey fudgey brownie. The consistency is creamy and velvety – kind of like an extra thick chocolate pudding. It almost reminds me of the chocolate caramel from Lake Champlain Chocolate Caramel Five Star Bar. The saltiness of the flaky crust compliments the sweet chocolate filling. Since it is very sweet, I like this pie with a cup of hot tea. The Fruitcake BAR is still my favorite ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Trader Joe’s Sparkling White Chardonnay Grape Juice

For the non-alcoholic drinkers out there, Trader Joe’s Sparkling White Chardonnay Grape Juice is a great alternative for a celebratory beverage. It is made with 100% juice from Spanish Chardonnay grapes and it comes in a fancy bottle. It is a little sweeter than actual Chardonnay wine, but it is still tasty and delightfully bubbly. The flavor is somewhat like white grape and apple, and it is perfect when served chilled.ย They recommend consuming within 4 days of opening, but it didn’t last that long for me ๐Ÿ˜› And it’s only $2.99!

I forgot to take a picture of the juice until there was only a little bit left ๐Ÿ˜›

 

 

Dorayaki with Mochi ~ ้ค…ๅ…ฅใ‚Šใฉใ‚‰็„ผใ

I love Dorayaki. Dorayaki is a delicious Japanese dessert consisting of two castella (Japanese sponge cake) pancakes filled with sweet azuki red bean paste. There are various variations of Dorayaki – green tea flavor, with chestnuts, filled with whipping cream, etc…

My best friend in Japan sent me a care package filled with delectable goodies…one such treat was the Dorayaki with Gyuhi from Warakunosato (ๅ’Œๆฅฝใฎ้‡Œ).ย Gyuhi is a softer version of mochi (Japanese rice cake)…it is a translucent white, delicate, chewy confection. You may have noticed Gyuhi before in the topping section at frozen yogurt shops. The pancakes were moist, light, and fluffy…the Tsubuan (chunky red bean paste) was perfectly sweet andย had good-sized whole beans intact. I loved all the textures of the Dorayaki, but my favorite part was the Gyuhi ๐Ÿ™‚ Green tea/matcha accompanies this wagashi (traditional Japanese confection) nicely.

If you prefer video reviews, check out this linkย and enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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