Friday, May 20, 2016

A to Z Food Challenge: D

Today's food challenge is based all around my favorite time of the day, dessert time. Yes I could've chosen a meal for the "D" category - like dumplings - but I saw this as an excellent opportunity to try out a few different Trader Joe's desserts. I've had my fair share of decadent foods from this fantastic grocer, but I do know that I have yet to try many of their sweets. I seem to stick to their gummy letters and cookies, so why not venture into unfamiliar territory to possible find a new love? This is NOT an "I love everything list". This is merely a "hey I tried this and here's what happened" list. Let's begin shall we?

1. Fruit Frenzy Bars $2.29: These bars are equipped with raspberry, lemon, and strawberry. I have always been a fan of raspberry - it's even my preferred preserves flavor - and this was absolutely no different. Strawberries are also a favorite of mine, while lemons I'm a bit particular about. The size for these "popsicles" was pretty big compared to their other raspberry frozen treats, but it still only came with 4 bars in total. I will say that while I thoroughly enjoyed the raspberry and strawberry sections, the lemon one left me a bit unsatisfied. I've eaten raw lemons before, and while they are sour, this particular frozen popsicle has an overly sour lemon portion. It was more of an extremely acidic lime than anything. I ended up having to cut of the middle section, as I just couldn't take the taste. Other than that, it was delicious. Would I buy it again? No. I don't feel it's worth it if I have to alter 1/3 of the bar. 

2. All Butter Shortbread Cookies with Apricot or Raspberry Filling $3.99: Again, I have a thing for raspberry, but I also favor shortbread. Trader Joe's even has these shortbread biscuits that are absolutely to die for, which led me to be curious about these. While they do seem to lack filling, they are a refreshing cookie. Not too sweet, not too plain. They wouldn't make for a very good dessert if you have a huge sweet tooth, but they would suffice for an afternoon delight with maybe a cup of tea or coffee. Very light and crumby. I do like soft cookies, but these were a little bit stiffer than some. That's not to say they were crunchy, as they weren't in the least. Would I buy them again? Absolutely! I can foresee myself using these as afternoon "sweets" with my young padawan with a cup of Chamomile, as he seemed to like them as well.

3. Mini Pie Medley; Strawberry, Blueberry, Peach $4.49: Spoiler alert, this was my absolute favorite dessert find out of the bunch. They come with 2 of each flavor and I can't even begin to describe how delicious they were. Each tiny pie can easily be warmed in a conventional or toaster oven. Within 10 minutes, you'll have miniature pies that taste exquisite. That's right, stupendous. The crust was light and flaky with a hint of crunch. It was coated with a sugar that felt so raw and pure. The filling wasn't overpowering, but full of fantastic taste. I commend Trader Joe's with this one. I DEFINITELY will be re-purchasing these, as they make excellent desserts with ice cream for holidays. For any day really. The fact that I can eat my favorites without having to purchase 3 full sized pies, is an excellent score for myself and my son! I love blueberry, he loves strawberry, and we both enjoy peach so we split it! We had this for our dessert with some Vanilla ice cream. It truly was the perfect end to a great Friday!

4. Banana Bonanza Bread with Almonds $3.99: I do love banana bread, but this was not a favorite for my desserts. I chose this particular item for this challenge, as I wanted to attempt in finding an after dinner delight that was a bit healthier than chocolate. I was recommended this by a Trader Joe's employee and while they were not wrong about it being fluffy and delicious, it simply wouldn't suffice as a dessert. I have a bit of sweet tooth, this I know, but even my son was left still wanting something "sweet". This bread definitely holds the banana and almond flavors nicely together, without either of them overpowering the other, but I feel it's best paired with a glass of milk, as it still can be a bit dry. I will be having this as a breakfast food with a nice cup of coffee, tea, and/or milk, but anything other than that would be overselling it. It may pair nicely with ice cream and it may be good for those with less of a sweet tooth, but you may still not find it "sweet enough". Would I buy them again? Maybe.

5. Mini Hold the Cone Vanilla Ice Cream Cones $2.99: My son and I are a huge fan of ice cream cones with chocolate covered vanilla. Seeing these immediately made me excited, as I wanted my son to be able to enjoy his favorite ice cream cone, without the big portions. I saw this as an excellent alternative. I was slightly disappointed. The chocolate itself almost tastes like a dark chocolate with a bit of extra cocoa. The Vanilla was delicious and nothing to complain about. The cone however, was what left me feeling a bit defeated. It was like chewing edible, chewy, thin, cardboard, that had been flavored. The taste of it was fine, but the texture itself was way less crunchy than I had hoped. I felt as if I had bought an expired batch, but after triple checking the dates I realized that it simply was made that way. I will say that the chocolate inside the tip of the cone did give me nostalgia, as that's always been my favorite part of a good ice cream cone. 

6. Organic Fairtrade Rooibos and Honeybush Tea (caffeine free) $2.49: Some people don't think tea is a dessert. I do. I pair my tea with biscuits, pastries, cookies, you name it. Therefore, it's going on the list. I will admit that I am not a huge tea fan. I can't handle the taste of green tea, chamomile is only tasty to me when I've added creamer, and I tend to stick to Trader Joe's Sweet Black Tea (in the container) without creamer, more than anything else. That is no longer the case. This Rooibos and Honeybush tea has become an absolute favorite, tied with black tea. It has a sweet, herbal, earthy taste to it, that makes me feel like I'm in a field of fresh flowers. I added a little bit of Trader Joe's Turkish Honey and the pair worked amazingly. Of course I ended up adding some creamer after I had drunken half of my cup already, just to see if it would taste good as well. It most certainly did. While the pies are my favorite dessert food that I've purchased today, this tea is my favorite dessert drink. Yes it's the only drink I purchased, but don't let that hinder your decision on buying this "warm hug in a cup". Not only is this tea tasty beyond words - with or without creamer - but it apparently holds health benefits as well. Some that surprised me and made me even more in love with it. Rooibos apparently has 50 times more antioxidants than Green Tea and can help thwart free radicals that could lead to cancer. It's also known to help with digestive problems, asthma, eczema, acne, strengthening bones and teeth, hypertension, blood circulation, healthy hair, and blood circulation. Honeybush apparently smells like honey and is sweeter than Rooibos - which is probably why it has a sweet flavor. It's also has beneficial properties that supposedly help with anemia prevention (hopefully this will help me, as it's full of iron and I'm anemic), stress, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, menopause, milk production (nursing mommas may want to check this out), and the cold/flu. With the wonderous taste and added health benefits, why WOULDN'T I repurchase? 

And there you have it. 5 desserts and 1 dessert drink that I tried today. Some were far less than I had hoped, while others far exceeded my expectations. You can't win them all though, now can you? All in all I was happy, because this weeks challenge has helped me explore new foods/drinks that I hadn't even though of trying. I do like to try new things, but I knew I was holding back. That won't be the case anymore! I still have an extreme love for cake, ice cream, cookies, brownies, cheesecake, pie, pudding, and much more (even if they aren't from Trader Joe's), but I wanted to do a real challenge. This was it for me. What are some of your favorite desserts? 

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