I’ve never been good at finding things. I can’t find the metaphors in Shakespeare’s 58th sonnet. I can’t find Atlantis. I still don’t know where in the world Carmen Sandiego is.
So it was with great surprise and befuddlement that I stumbled upon these seasonal pumpkin toaster pastries crammed in the back aisle of my local Trader Joe’s. Like a rabbit caught in Mr. McGregor’s garden, my first instinct was to freeze in the middle of the aisle, causing a 5-cart pile-up behind me. The next impulse was to unashamedly shove not two, but three boxes into my cart with all the fervor of a dictionary collector coming upon a stash of 1884 Oxford English dictionaries. I may have pulled an oblique muscle in the process.
I’ve often pondered the functions and philosophical implications of Pop-Tart’s no-melt frosting, so it was to my chagrin to uncover: the Trader Joe’s surface icing melts! And re-crackles! Like the glaze of so many doughnuts, this works favorably for the pastry as a whole, adding a gentle caramel flavor on first chomp.
The act of icing meltification led me to investigate the box closer. What were these ingredients that allowed icing to actually melt? Could toaster pastries be made with something other than sodium acid pyrophosphate? Why, yes, yes indeed. To my further confundity (yes, Computer Spell Check, that is now a word), I discovered that these are organic. And made with ingredients I can pronounce. And made with…whole wheat?! Hmmm…is this genius or blasphemy?
Having finished one box in 24 hours, I argue in favor of genius.
“Brown Sugar Cinnamon! Brown Sugar Cinnamon! Brown Sugar Cinnamon!” These were the eloquent thoughts racing through my brain on first bite, and those thoughts were reinforced bite after bite as the pleasantly gritty, sugary filling reminded me of the filling of Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts (one of my top 3 toaster pastry varietals). There’s also a noticeable hint of nutmeg, a kick of ginger, and just an edge of deep woodsiness that I’m guessing comes from the molasses.
While those sugar-and-spice notes lollop on the front engine of taste, the promised pumpkin makes itself known on the caboose, coming in with a gentle flick of flavor that is unquestionably pumpkin. The discretion showed in the amount of pumpkin somehow highlights the squash’s sweet, tart characteristics, thus giving due respect to the best qualities of the jack-o-lantern vegetation.
As a consequence of nature, nutrition, and an ancient Merlin curse, whole wheat flour is denser than its fluffy, all-purpose brethren, thus it takes these rectangles more ticks in the toaster to achieve the standard crispy edges often found in a non-whole grain tart. The instructions on the box recommend toasting at the lowest level on your toaster, but if you like your pumpkin-sugar pastries on the crunchity side, go wild. Turn the heat up to 3, or, if you’re really living on the edge, go to 4. These are pastries covered in what might be a NASA-approved full metal jacket of whole wheat, so no fear. Toast!
If you toast wisely, you shall be rewarded with a honey whole-wheat crust that is crackery, almost nutty. While this crust is nothing too astounding or offending on its own, it does make an excellent base for that sugary, pumpkin-ish filling inside. Finding them hearty for his morning meal, my friend and former logger suggests that these are pastries for the lumberjacks of the world*.
*They’re also really good for non-lumberjacks.
Sometimes, organic products can be expensive and filled with fluffified frou-frou in their foodie egos. Trader Joe’s seems to have broken all pretenses of that here. Not only are these original and cost-friendly, they are daring to compete with Brown Sugar Cinnamon pastries in my pantry. The honeyed crust coupled with the sugary, sweet, slightly pumpkin-y filling has won me over.
If you are looking for an entire can of Libby’s inside your toaster pastry, this may not be the rectangle for you, but if you enjoy brown sugar cinnamon, a bit of pumpkin flair, and good toaster pastries, these are definitely worth your time while they’re around. Good show, Joe, good show.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 200 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugars, and 3 grams of protein.)
Other Trader Joe’s Organic Frosted Pumpkin Toaster Pastries reviews:
What’s Good at Trader Joe’s
Item: Trader Joe’s Organic Frosted Pumpkin Toaster Pastries
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 1 box/6 pastries
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: In the running for “Top 3 Favorite Toaster Pastries I’ve Ever Eaten.” Sugary spiced filling. Highlights tart sweetness of pumpkin. Greater ratio of filling-to-crust than average Pop-Tart. Crackery honey wheat crust. Icing actually melts and reforms. Good for lumberjacks and non-lumberjacks.
Cons: May not be pumpkin-y enough for pumpkin lovers. Seasonal. Only six to a box. Pondering philosophical implications of frosting that never melts. Ancient Merlin curses. Pulling oblique muscles.