REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake

The following are uncovered hacked e-mails from Trader Joe’s headquarters. The correspondence is between CEO Trader Joe and powerful cheesecake agent Graham K. Racker.

On Jun 14, 2014, at 2:19 PM, “NEW CHEESECAKE?” < [EMAIL REDACTED]>, “Graham K. Racker”> wrote:

Joe,
Had a chance to check out the samples yet? Want to get these cheesecakes on the shelves stat.

On Jun 14, 2014, at 6:31 PM, “RE: NEW CHEESECAKE?” < [EMAIL REDACTED]>, “Trader Joe”> wrote:

Graham,
Yes, I have. Although I appreciate the time and effort in sending me all of these cheesecake samples, there is just no way that we will be able to accommodate them all at our stores. Some of the flavors also seem strange. “Brussel Sprout?” “Toro Sashimi?” “Little Caesar’s $5 Pizza Cheesecake?” That’s not even legally possible, Graham.

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake 2

Though, I will say, one particular cheesecake caught my taste buds. The Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake. I think this is perfect for our stores, as it’s very good and will continue the extremely popular Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter tradition.

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake 3

Here’s what I think: I was at first taken aback with the fact that it wasn’t an entire cheesecake with cookie butter cream cheese or something like that, maybe a swirl. It’s more like a plain cheesecake wearing a cookie butter hat. Actually, if you consider the crumbled speculoos cookie crust, the cheesecake is wearing a cookie hat and cookie pants. Might have to save that saying for one of our sign artists!

And it’s a delightful slice. The plain cheesecake is not too sweet, allowing the cookie butter to shine. The two flavors of cheesecake and topping are relatively muted and elevate each other, allowing the consumer to mindlessly zombie-eat it, like Oreos or Doritos dust. (Ironically, I couldn’t eat more than two bites of the Oreo-Doritos Dust Cheesecake you sent)

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake 4

The cookie butter top is a little denser than the cake filling itself and biting into it releases a waft of cinnamon that triggers pumpkin pie memories. Following that, the cream cheese exhibits a mild tang typical of a cheesecake. It’s almost until the aftertaste that I am walloped in the mouth by ground up shortbread dancing around my mouth. It’s not trying to reinvent cheesecake, it’s delivering what it says on the box: It’s a cheesecake with cookie butter on it. I like it.

If there is a downside, it is that it is frozen. Of course there is no way around this, as per transportation and storage necessities, but the instructions on defrosting ranges from “4-6 hours or overnight.” So people’s mileage may vary. I know myself, I sleep 3 hours a night, being the CEO of a successful company. So overnight for me is less than the recommended time. Now I’m bragging.

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake 5

The speculoos cookie crust does a decent job of serving up the rest of the goods, but the cookie butter top and cheesecake are definitely the stars. Also, because it is frozen, the crust absorbs a good deal of moisture, which is not a deal breaker but not the best situation for crusts. Also to consider because of it being a frozen product—how long a consumer puts it out to be room temperature will affect the softness of the cheese in the cheesecake.

But most of all it sucks that we have to wait to eat it! This item seems great for our shelves and a good supplement or replacement for the apple pie and pumpkin pies during the holidays. Thanks Graham.

On Jun 15, 2014, at 8:35 AM, “RE: NEW CHEESECAKE?” < [EMAIL REDACTED]>, “Graham K. Racker”> wrote:

You can’t just pick and choose, Joe. If you want the Speculoos Cheesecake you have to take the Dragonfruit Salvia flavored one too. Don’t mess with me. We’re on the verge of getting Obama to pardon a cheesecake this Christmas and it will put us on the map and you will be sorry. I’m going to make it a [redacted] flavored one. You think he’ll love that?

The cheesecake industry is coming up and your Hawaiian shirt wearing pathetic losers can’t stop me. You aren’t even in control of your own brand, Joe. Not saying you’re a whore, but you’re a whore.

You can have the cookie butter cheesecake but you have to take the Cardamom Parsley Squid one too. This is not up to debate. I am not destroying my career over a minimally talented spoiled brat, Joe. I’m talking about you, Joe.

On Jun 15, 2014, at 9:06 AM, “RE: NEW CHEESECAKE?” < [EMAIL REDACTED]>, “Trader Joe”> wrote:

Good thing I have a mouth like an elephant’s brain — it can replicate tastes with amazing recall. It also feels large but actually is proportional for my body size. We don’t need you, crazy man. Putting this stuff out by December.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/6th of a cheesecake – 410 calories, 220 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 29 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake
Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: 22.5 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like cookie butter. Fans of cookie butter can enjoy it in cheesecake form. Not too sweet.
Cons: Thawing process unpredictable. Soggy-ish crust.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups

Ever since buying this tub, I’ve woken up to a THWUMB, THWUMB, THWUMB outside my window. Upon investigating, I find nothing at the window. I am convinced it is a) a very stupid pigeon, b) the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe, or c) a telepathic message from Professor X that states, “Margaret…you’re a Mutant. You must join the X-Men!” No matter which, it’s clear this thing eats cookie butter cups and wants them bad, but can’t quite figure out the whole “opening the window” thing (hence why it is not a breed of hyper-intelligent monkey or particularly creepy human).

But it makes perfect sense for this creature to try to get in every morning to obtain this little tub of aluminum-studded cups. Let me tell you why.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups TJ Cookie Butter cup escapes from foil

Sparing us from frippery of fluted cups, Trader Joe’s delivers a simple, complete concept right out of the golden foil. The size of a mini Reese’s Cup but with a firmer, darker outer shell, these start off with a striking visual impression, a sensation that swiftly carries over to the taste.

This is not a hyper-sugared confection that coats your tongue, no glucose-ridden lozenge that burns as it courses down as if the Almighty were ripping out your trachea. No, this is just quality semisweet chocolate, dark, bitter, and smooth like a 1965 Clint Eastwood riding out into the vengeance-ridden dusk.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups Cookie Butter Cup insides!!

Stuffed into each nub is a generous helping of cookie butter paste. Smooth, but slightly crumbly, that inner spread tastes of the named pulverized Speculoos cookies, highlighting the oat-cinnamon streusel notes. This filling, coupled with the woodsy, coffee-wisped chocolate, pushes this candy to the top, the cream of the crop, the Chrome Viking Refrigerators of confectionary-dom.

Just one problemo: there are only 28. Sure, it’s a pretty good number, but for $4.99, I do wish there were a few more. Desperate to hold on for as long as possible, I tried to ration them out. Like today: I’ll only have 2 cups…or maybe 3…or 4…

(2 hours later, upon emptying tub)

Sugar is GOOD!!! I feel I could pick up a lawnmower and fling it across a baseball field! I am invincible! I am unstoppable! I AM a Mutant!

(1 hour later, upon going to Home Depot and looking at lawnmowers)

I overestimated myself. I am not a Mutant. I am not even an Animorph. I am more like the lanky, awkward teenager hired to stand outside the store dressed in a paper mache koala suit. Nothing near a Mutant. Just a mortal, attempting to down a bag of sugar, chocolate, and crumbled cookies.

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups Cookie Butter Cup sculpture

But maybe that’s okay. It certainly doesn’t make these cookie butter cups any less delicious. With such quality semisweet chocolate and a good ratio of cookie butter stuffed in each, who needs to be a mutated superhero? Maybe I could become one if I were to share these with that creature that rattles at my window, but me? Share these? I think I would rather be trampled by a fleet of rabid pigeons.*

*Not sure if pigeons can contract rabies.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 pieces – 180 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 11 oz. tub
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Smooth chocolate. Crumbly insides. Streusel-like filling. Nice balance of sugary insides to bittersweet outsides. Provides you with enough energy to throw a lawnmower. Messages from Professor X.
Cons: Those sensitive to dark chocolate may be sad. Runs out quickly. I am not a Mutant. Rabid pigeons.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

Has everyone gone on vacation without you? Are they lounging in their getaway cabins while you swoon from your dusty, fluorescent-lit alcove? Are they showing you their long weekends on various social media mediums, tempting you with visions of homemade apple cobbler and piles of fall leaves? Are you feeling very much like you are not one of these vacationers? Maybe now is the time for an acceptable pity party. And I have just the snack to wash it down.

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter And we get a close up

Gooey, spreadable, and with just enough grit to give it crunch, cookie butter came to America in a surge, flooding aisles with a vow to nourish the Food Pyramid’s need for palm oil and pulverized cookie nubs (I’m pretty much sure my brain is composed 10 percent thought and 90 percent cookie nubs). This Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter extends that promise, allowing for the concept of bittersweet fudge cookies and sugary frosting to come together in a surface that’s as smooth as all the freshly fallen snow outside of Mr. Puff’s house.

A swipe into the smooth white cream brings me straight to the sugar frosting of an Oreo: a little gritty, very sweet, and a hint of coconut. Not “tropical sunscreen” coconut, just a slightly floral whiff, like the gentle breeze on a summer day if that summer day were also doused in super sugary goo.

The Oreo taste profile also makes its presence known on the dark chocolate end: cocoa, a hint of coffee, an edge of that dark, nearly-burnt crunch, and a solid sugar surge give it all it needs to feel at home in the Oreo family. The two flavors combine to form a smooth, easily consumed Oreo-like spread, and, thus, my brain is now composed of 95 percent cookie nubbins and 5 percent thoughts (3 percent of which are centered around which cookies to bake for spreading said cookie nubbins on).

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter Right off the spoon

Oreo built a reputation around eating cookies in wacky ways, so it should come to reason that this spread might encourage similarly adventurous snacking styles. Having consumed three servings in 7.5 minutes, the sugar rush cracks open the spread’s possibilities in my mind. Make s’mores. Dollop on ice cream. Spread on Pop Tarts. Drizzle on cinnamon rolls. Eat from the jar. Finish jar. Realize you must now buy another jar and eat from that jar. Eat all the jars! With this expansive ability to transform, you carry the equivalent of the body of an ancient wizard in your pocket. Just remember: with such great power comes great responsibility. Dunk wisely.

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter Dunk wisely

With its brave interpretation of two already-loved staples, this Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter reminds me to live life on the edge: adopt a highway! Learn Butoh! Become the Government Agent specializing in Meteorology and Produce Distribution! You never know when you’ll slip into a coma and get stuck in the confines of your subconscious, so you might as well put on your badass pants.

And definitely get this cookie butter. Plunk it on stuff. Watch as the object you consume transforms it into something stupendous. You’ll forget about that pity party you were planning. Promise.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 tablespoons – 210 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter
Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 14.1 oz. jar
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Dark, dutch cocoa-y fudge. Both smooth and chunky. Sweet frosting. Easy medium to eat more Oreo-like goods. Allows you to forget about pity parties. Highway adoption. Butoh.
Cons: Really, are there any? Okay, maybe it’s hard to stop eating. Really hard. And it may be too sweet/overly chocolatey for some. But it’s so good. May cause brain to be composed of more cookie than thoughts. Not being on vacation.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream

I injured myself yesterday.

It was in aisle 3. The Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream had been sold out for the previous 10 days. Already half-defeated, melodramatic dairy cravings oozing from my limp, lactose-deprived mind, I turned my head and there, between the frozen waffles and Pomegranate Sherbet: one last quart.

“Blah! Cream! Ice! Butter! Cookie! Now!”

It was then that Zeus looked down upon me and said, “You! You did not form a grammatically coherent sentence! You MUST SUFFER!” A bolt of Karma-infused lightning darted from Mt. Olympus, swooshing carts, Trader Joe’s employees, and oblivious human beings right into the 12-foot path that stood between me and dairy perfection.

Grabbing a nearby Kouign Amann from the sample station, I leapt over the baskets, the boxes, and the kindly Trader Joe’s employee who was re-stocking the Salsa Authentica (saying “Excuse me” along the way). I reached down, my goal in sight, when my noggin bonked the shelf above and the slew of Very Vanilla meringues avalanched on my cranium.

Luckily, neither Ancient Greek-inspired divine intervention nor avalanching plastic tubs can stop a true dextrose zealot.

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream The untouched ice cream

Having brought the tub home and peeled off the safety-sealed container, I can see white creamy stuff and (small) brown chunky speckles. Smells of vanilla and sugar crackle into the air. By all the gold in Robin Hood’s barn, this stuff looks good. With the cover devoid of any specifics, I can only take an amateur dive at what awaits: vanilla, perhaps even sweet cream, ice cream with cookie butter swirls…and Speculoos cookie chunks? Maybe? MAYBE??

No. No cookie chunks. But cookie butter swirl chunks? Yes! And in wide abundance. Those chunky, gritty, swirly thingies are spattered throughout, gathering up on your golden spoon 1, 2, 5 chunks at a time. Unlike a dense, crunchy cookie, these cookie butter swirlies are gritty and loose and crumble with their spicy warm bite.

The art of perfecting the ratio of cookie-butter-to-cream is an exercise worthy of a sensei master. When gathered in their best proportion, the chunks accentuate a warmth from cinnamon and clove in the Speculoos butter while also bouncing off the sweetness in the vanilla base. What’s better is chunks get chunkier as you dig, rewarding you with golden nuggets so big they’d send the gold panners from ‘49 into a tizzy.

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream Proof that swirly chunks may take over the world

And that vanilla-cream base? It’s pretty good. Not enough to make a possum do a back flip or anything, but pretty good. Thick and creamy with a super sweet melt, it makes for a smooth foundation that’s just on the cusp of tasting like an Oreo filling. The Trader chose not to toss in any vanilla bean speckles in this particular base, but who needs speckles when you have chunks of pulverized cookie goo all around? Give me the cookie goo. Give me it all.

For those in the Vanilla Clan with a penchant for spicy-warm, yet wonderfully simple concoctions, this ice cream will do you right as it stands. If you like your ice cream with more of a punch, you might be well-served to incorporate other mix-ins or smoosh it up with another ice cream flavor. Think chocolate. Coffee. More cookie butter. That triple-layer Mocha Cake your Aunt Sally baked for you last week. Almost anything will do. The vanilla has a lighter flavor, so anything you dump on it will be a dimension to all that perpetual lightness, a yin to its yang, a Nietzsche to its Dora the Explorer.

Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream Close up of swirly chunkies

On the whole, this ice cream registers as “good” in both the tender, youthful, overly optimistic part of my brain as well as the crumpled, calloused, grumpity part. In fact, it may be the only thing that these parts of my brain agree upon. Ever. While not chaotic or exploding with mix-ins, it’s a simple, slightly spicy, sweet cream that makes good for eating right off the sugar cone, between French toast, or in a bowl after you’ve dumped your entire Halloween candy stash upon it.

I plan to eat this quart in the morning. I plan to eat this quart at night. I plan to eat this quart until it is finished… and what if someone tries to eat it from my freezer before then? I will not let them. And if they do, I will buy another. I will collect the cookie butter ice cream. All of it. I will stock my freezer to the brim, supporting the dairy farmers as I fill my belly with cookie-butter-laden cream. I suspect future historians will dig me out of a landfill of empty ice cream containers. I will have no regrets.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 220 calories, 130 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 1 quart
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Cookie swirls, cookie swirls, everywhere, everywhere. Gritty cinnamon goodness. Solid vanilla-cream base. Less sugar than most powerbars. Good for breakfast. Good for dinner. Supports dairy farmers. The Nietzsche to its Dora the Explorer.
Cons: Could have EVEN MORE cookie swirls. And more cookie swirls. Ice cream base may be too sweet for some. Being buried in a landfill of ice cream pints. Poor grammar. Karma-related injuries. The wrath of Zeus.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread

Do you remember your first time?

Were there scented candles? Sensual music in the background?

I remember my first time. It took place right outside of Central Park. I didn’t mind the public watching. Children stared. There was whipped cream. Things got sticky. Real sticky.

Yup, I remember my first time trying speculoos spread like it was just yesterday. Like many others, my first taste of speculoos spread came atop a waffle from a Wafels & Dinges truck in New York. That sweet, slightly spiced cookie butter knocked my tastebuds’ socks off. (And my tastebuds don’t even wear socks.)

Naturally, when I found out that Trader Joe’s had combined their speculoos spread with a cocoa swirl, I jumped at the opportunity to try it. Chocolate is the only thing that could ever improve speculoos, right?

Behold: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread Topless

Removing the lid from the glass jar released the heavenly scent of speculoos, an aroma reminiscent of raw sugar cookie dough mixed with cinnamon. Strangely, my proboscis was unable to detect any trace of chocolate.

The light brown speculoos base is fabulous: sweet with a light cinnamon spice, like a spreadable mixture of snickerdoodles and graham crackers. Tiny bits of cookie crumbs are incorporated into the speculoos, providing a very slight crunch. For those who have yet to experience the joys of speculoos, be warned: it is extremely addictive.

But the chocolate? Oh boy. The chocolate changes things for the worse.

The dark brown cocoa swirl is saccharine and excessively rich, almost like a chocolate syrup in solid form. Its chocolate flavor seems artificial, two-dimensional, and ultimately unappealing. There’s no way I would ever eat the chocolate portion of this spread alone.

Because it’s not as thick as peanut butter or Nutella, the cookie butter spreads easily onto bread, waffles, and anything else you can imagine putting speculoos on. (Keep it PG, kids.)

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread Closeup

When the speculoos and chocolate portions of the spread are combined, the result is one dark brown mass, more similar in appearance to Nutella than a cookie butter. The speculoos helps to calm the overpowering chocolate flavor of the cocoa swirl. However, the chocolate equally mutes the speculoos, converting the spread in its entirety into what tastes like a cheap, knockoff speculoos spread. Essentially, the addition of the cocoa swirl smothers the speculoos base’s wow-factor, downgrading a spectacular cookie butter to mere mediocrity.

What happened, Trader Joe? There was so much potential here. You took the easy way out by cutting corners and using cheap chocolate, didn’t you? For shame!

I should have known better than to trust a cookie butter sold by such an elusive man. I’ve been to his store countless times, but I still haven’t been able to find this Trader Joe guy. He’s harder to locate than Carmen Sandiego, Waldo, and the corpse of Jimmy Hoffa all combined.

Trader Joe, I will never again purchase your Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl spread. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Tbsp. (15 grams) – 90 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Other Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie and Cocoa Swirl Spread reviews:
What’s Good at Trader Joe’s

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 14.1 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: First times. Speculoos base is fabulous. Cookie crumbs mixed throughout.
Cons: Chocolate seems artificial. Combination makes spread seem mediocre. The corpse of Jimmy Hoffa.