Christine Park

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Taste Testing Trader Joe's Pumpkin-Flavored Everything

If you're like me, when the fall season comes around, you start craving all things pumpkin and pumpkin-flavored. I think it was even more so this year, because Fresno had an extended summer, and I was desperate to hasten the arrival of the crisp, cooler air, and the beautiful fall foliage. Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte hadn't yet arrived, so the other day, I faked it by making pumpkin bread. It was freaking delish. Moist, with the perfect blend of pumpkiny nutmegy cinnamony flavor.

That's where my neighborhood obsession, Trader Joe's comes in. The aforementioned "freaking delish" bread was made from their Pumpkin Bread Mix. But that's only the beginning. Have you been inside the store lately? It's like Charlie Brown's Great Pumpkin exploded and broke off into little pumpkin-flavored goodies scattered in nearly every aisle. I couldn't resist snapping up a few (quite a few) to taste test. I can't tell you how many items I grabbed, then guiltily put back down, knowing I'd probably be the only one in the family to consume these things. (Hubby does not share my pumpkin addiction). Anyhow, I was super-excited to eat my breakfast this morning:

...Only to be disappointed! Let's start with the Pumpkin Waffles. I'd skip these. I'll stick with their amazingly flaky, crispy Belgian waffles instead, because these pumpkin waffles are like the cheap, cardboard-like Ego waffles with hardly any pumpkin flavor. Even slathering these with Cookie Butter couldn't save them.
The Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte Mix is all spice, to the point of overpowering. Mixing the powder with water, as the instructions suggest, just doesn't cut it. There's no latte creaminess to it. I will give it another try with milk, and see how that balances out the flavors.
Pumpkin Macarons. YES! A delicate, shell, a chewy interior, and a flavorful filling.  The pumpkin flavor is just right... really reminiscent of pumpkin pie. Make sure you defrost them for 30 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheescake. Buy this. If you love cheesecake and pumpkin pie, this is a cross of the best of both worlds. It's got the firmer consistency and tanginess of cheesecake, with the smoothness of pumpkin pie. Sometimes pumpkin pie can be a little too... gelatinous for me, so I actually prefer this.

Pumpkin Butter. Pumpkin pie in a jar. This is a great way to satisfy your pumpkin craving, so you might want to stockpile a few jars of these. They're a little pricey for the size, but it's good on anything from ice cream to toast. The tasting station uses cream cheese to cut down on the sweetness. There are also some great recipes online using this ingredient. 
I found this hilarious and helpful "Pumpkintensity" matrix of some of TJ's most popular pumpkin-flavored products. As you can see, some are super high in the spice factor, while others have a much stronger pumpkin flavor. I guess depending on your preferences, you can decide what to try!


How do you feed your pumpkin addiction? Let me know about your favorite products!

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