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Trader Joe's Holiday Items - 2011

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Just holding a place here for the winter seasonal items discussions in hopes they won't get scattered around in a bunch of miscellaneous threads. The year-end Fearless Flyer should be out very soon.

My fingers are crossed for the return of the french truffles in the red box. I have my doubts that the cookie kit (with cutters, icing, and colored sugars) will be back. It must have sold poorly last year, because it was marked down to 99 cents BEFORE Christmas, and there were loads of boxes available.

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  1. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that even at 99 cents they are still making a good profit on the cookie kit.

    1. I really like the Vanilla Cinnamon (I believe...) Tea that came out last year.

      1 Reply
      1. re: frannieface77

        Love that tea too. It smells fabulous.

      2. The Tyngsborough MA store lost all its perishables in last week's power outage but is pretty sell restocked. I didn't see any Christmas items when I shopped there today but the fried onions in the green-topped cardboard canister are in. I missed out last year, not realizing that they are ordered for Thanksgiving only, so by December they were gone.

        Not a holiday item, but I bought an extra bag of jasmine rice because floods in Thailand have, according to NPR, destroyed this year's crop.

        According to a clerk there, the Christmas items are starting to arrive this week. No sign of the Fearless Flyer yet, though they had a "Pilgrim" handout for T'day items.

        2 Replies
        1. re: greygarious

          I forgot to mention that they had the frozen puff pastry sheets and frozen pie crusts too. IIRC the puff and perhaps the crusts are winter season only. I don't buy the crusts so I'm not sure when they get those in. I also got cranberry-apple butter and don't know if that's a regular item. I do recall cranberry-apple chutney a few years back, and this is a different item.

          1. re: greygarious

            The pie crusts came in a couple of weeks ago, but they go quickly. I got the last one when I was there last week.

        2. Lots of holiday items back in my store in Berkeley, CA. Chocolate covered candy cane Joe Joes, sea salt caramels (delicious!!), advent calendars, those dark chocolate covered shortbread stars, milk chocolate oranges, and a number of new items. There were some tiny chocolate/peppermint coated waffle cookies that were intriguing.

          No cookie kits, but they are selling baggies of three cookie cutters (Christmas themed) for $.99

          Going to TJ's is so much fun during the holidays.

          1 Reply
          1. re: betterbeheaven

            Oh, I love those chocolate covered shortbread stars!

          2. They had one of my favorites: cranberry orange relish. It's wonderful with French cream line yogurt. I wait for it every year. (I know this is a Thanksgiving special item).

            2 Replies
            1. re: Helene Goldberg

              is this the uncooked one i just saw in fearless flyer?

              1. re: toncasmo

                Yes. It is fantastic in yogurt. I buy 6 at a time and hope they don't spoil. I wait for it all year.

            2. Just spotted the french truffles at the Fisherman's Wharf store in SF. Also picked up a box of the dark chocolate sea salt caramels.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gnomatic

                Unless they've changed, the dark chocolate sea salt caramels have a faint coconut flavor from the coconut oil in them. I'm just noting this because some people don't mind it and some people find it highly objectionable!

              2. I've been considering my options for pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving (not wanting to go to the trouble of baking) -- how is Trader Joe's? Any yays/nays on that?
                Thanks!

                5 Replies
                1. re: Bax

                  I can't commend on TJ's, but Costco's instore bakery sells an excellent, HUGE pumpkin pie for $5.99. It has had many favorable mentions on CH. I think it's 12" diameter - definitely at least 10". It will feed 12 people.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    Ha -- thanks for the recommendation, but I'm only trying to feed two of us. Costco pie might be overkill (my boyfriend DOES like pumpkin pie, but....).

                    I've been considering fresh & locally baked, but it's awfully spendy to do so. If TJ's pies are good, they are SO much cheaper!

                    1. re: Bax

                      I think there's truth to Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion observation that "the best pumpkin pie you've every eaten isn't all that different from the worst pumpkin pie you've ever eaten". The Costco pie is darn good, and you could always freeze some though you'd sacrifice the crispness of the crust after that. Though I am single, I bought one a few years back figuring that even if I wound up throwing some out, at that price I was still ahead of the game. I managed to eat half in the course of a week, then scraped out and froze the filling, using it later in baking muffins.

                  2. re: Bax

                    Not sure if you like cheesecake, but TJ's Pumpkin Cheesecake is divine. They were giving out samples in the store the other day and people were buying it up.

                    1. re: littleflower

                      I haven;t bought the pumpkin cheesecake in some years so it may have changed, but I found the finish to be rather chalky-tasting. Fonder memories of the seasonal Pumpkin Cream (or chiffon?) Pie at the long-extinct chain of Betty Crocker Pie Shops.

                  3. I just wanted to report on the kosher turkeys -- there had been another thread on Trader Joes' fresh turkeys, but I can't find it -- I purchased one for my early T-day dinner which went off mostly without a hitch this evening. I went to unwrap the bird first thing this morning as I wanted it to air-dry a few hours before roasting, for the crispy skin. Well, I don't know if all the kosher birds are like this, or if I got one that missed QA, but I spent an hour pulling feathers out of it -! I expect to have to clean some pinfeathers out of the armpits and from around the ankles, sure. This bird had feathers everywhere. I pulled flight feathers out of the wings, full-sized quills, everything. It was more than a little gross and I didn't have the time at that point to make a long drive back and exchange for a bird that may or may not have the same problem, so I hunkered down and got to it. Ree-volting.

                    However, I put a little herbed compound butter under the skin and roasted Bittman-style and it came out gorgeous and was pretty much the best looking- and tasting bird I have done in a long time. Brined bird drippings are typically too salty for gravy, but these drippings were skimmed and went right into the roux and turned out a perfect gravy with no doctoring whatsoever -- I had roasted the neck alongside the bird and the chopped meat went into the gravy, that was my only addition. Flawless. The turkey and gravy were gobbled and made me look like a star in front of my particularly fussy in-laws. So, it took a little legwork to make it happen, not perfect out of the box, but I can't complain about the finished product.

                    My mother-in-law is happy. That like, never happens.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: themis

                      I'm glad it worked out for you! It's actually pretty typical for kosher birds to have more feathers than "regular" turkeys. It must have something to do with the way kosher birds are required to be processed, but if you wanted to get into it, you should ask on either the Kosher board or General Topics.

                      1. re: themis

                        Sounds like a wonderful Thanksgiving Themis! We always buy the pre-brined fresh turkey at Trader Joe's, mainly because I hate messing with the feathers on a Kosher, and it sounds like your bird this year had more than the usual.

                        TJ's turkey out of the oven:

                         
                      2. I tried the pfeffernusse against my better judgement. Blech. The insides tastes okay and nicely spiced, but the slightly hard too sweet sugary coating ruined it for me.

                        1. I didn't get any kind of Thanksgiving meal this year, but was craving stuffing. This weekend I bought the premade stuffing and scalloped potatoes. The stuffing had chicken sausage and sage and was divine!! I will be buying more of that, for sure. It was so tasty and had a good texture.

                          The potaotes were a little bland to me. Even though they have 4 cheeses, I found it lacking salt and flavor. I added salt, pepper and hot sauce to get some flavor going.

                          1. the holiday flyer alert e-mail was awaiting me in my inbox this morning...

                            http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-fl...

                            1. Something new for the pooches this year: gingerbread flavored dog treats. They are about 2-1/2" long, suitable for most sizes of dog. $3.49 for a 16 oz box. Dinah did an in-home test panel and gives them a paws up.

                              The e-mail version of the holiday Fearless Flyer omits some of the holiday items I am seeing in my local TJ's, but maybe that's always the case. There's a total of four locations I visit, two of them regularly, and from one Xmas season to another, I find things in one store or other that I don't see in the other ones. I was there a week ago, did not see holiday chocolates, so fingers crossed the French dark chocolate truffles appear. They are not in the online flyer and I have not yet received the mailed copy.

                              1. The amount of cookies this year is crazy! My favorites so far are the Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe's! Pure Genius!

                                Steve

                                www.clubtraderjoes.com

                                1. christmas just came early!
                                  tj knocked of biscoff spread---a peanut-butter-like spread with gingerbread flavor and tiny cookie bits...OMG--the joy! when i go to france, i bring home several (heavy glass) jars of this stuff, at great peril to my packed clothing. and now, trader joe made it! it's called speculoos cookie butter. hoard, people, hoard. i doubt that this will catch on, and you know what that means...i'm getting a case tomorrow!

                                  25 Replies
                                  1. re: chez cherie

                                    How much??!

                                    1. re: littleflower

                                      $3.69

                                      1. re: chez cherie

                                        Excellent price! Now if they will just bring back their nutella...

                                        1. re: littleflower

                                          Yeah----they do have a new cocoa-almond spread, but to me, it's all about the hazelnuts, baby!

                                          1. re: chez cherie

                                            oy. i really didn't need to know about the cocoa-almond spread ;)

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              Yes, I am just going to ignore the existence of both spreads. Like I do with peanut butter. iMHO then when I do have 'special spreads' they taste AWESOME. Whereas, if I had them all the time, they wouldn't be so excellent.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Do report back if you try it! Nutella is my kryptonite...but I really should buy anymore nut & chocolate spread until i try the (still un opened) Nutkao from italy.

                                                1. re: gnomatic

                                                  you're on your own with this one. i checked it out today - it contains soy flour, which i can't have...and way too much sugar for me anyway.

                                      2. re: chez cherie

                                        I bought the Speculoos Cookie Butter this week and it is AMAZING! I've just been eating it by the spoonful. I hope TJ's continues to make this product.

                                        1. re: chez cherie

                                          LOVE that biscoff knockoff (poetry!) and I too will be stocking up on it!

                                          1. re: chez cherie

                                            umm, this is pretty much the most delicious thing I've ever tasted! I really, really hope that they don't discontinue this product because I don't want to have to hoard a million jars in my house...could be dangerous.

                                            1. re: yummfood

                                              Based on what I've seen over the years, this stuff will not stay in stores much past the first of the year. I would hoard this stuff if you really like it! Then bug the manager of your store to restock it...

                                              Steve

                                              www.clubtraderjoes.com

                                            2. re: chez cherie

                                              I'm curious, how do you all like to eat this spread? I've been sampling it from a spoon, but I have to admit I'm not blown away. It is sort of a strange experience, since the mouthfeel is exactly like creamy peanut butter, but the flavor is not. Perhaps it needs to be combined with something else?

                                              Although maybe it's better if I'm not blown away, considering how much fat is in the stuff.

                                              1. re: chompy

                                                let me count the ways--on toast, on waffles or pancakes (on PUMPKIN waffles...omg), swirled into brownies. swirled into oatmeal. in the hollow of grilled or broiled plums. as a mousse, with mascarpone or whipped cream. i havent tried all of these yet, but the possibilities are staggering.

                                                1. re: chez cherie

                                                  Look, I have been reading all of these posts about the new cookie spread and so far I have had enough restraint not to purchase it. However, after reading chez cherie's post about all the ways that we can use it (especially in the grilled plums...YUM!!!) I think it now will make it into my basket as well. Chez Cherie, they should hire you as their marketing rep - nice job describing how to use this product!

                                                  1. re: littleflower

                                                    Thanks, littleflower. I write trader joe's cookbooks ... Not sold at or affliliated by them, tho!

                                                  2. re: chez cherie

                                                    I can confirm that it's fantastic in oatmeal. I'm eating steel cut oats with just the cookie butter and it's awesome.

                                                    1. re: tazia

                                                      Thanks folks, I'll have to try some of your suggestions. Sounds like it's best on something warm. The ingredient list is a little scary so I''ll try not to look at it any more. Lots of palm oil, some kind of margarine, various emulsifiers and something called "butterflavor (non-dairy)".

                                                      I did have some on some Granny Smith apple slices and it was tasty, and *almost* seemed healthy.

                                                  3. re: chompy

                                                    I've just been dipping pretzels into it and spreading it on TJ multigrain crackers--gotta love the sweet/salty combination. I think it'd also be good for making a sweet (indulgent) grilled cheese sandwich with the spread and some cream cheese.

                                                    1. re: chompy

                                                      I cracked open my jar today and the first thing I thought of upon tasting it was cookie truffles.
                                                      So I bumped the Oreo Truffles thread on the Home Cooking board to suggest using the cookie butter in place of half or all of the cream cheese in the truffle recipe, with vanilla cream or maple cream sandwich cookies, or graham crackers, instead of Oreos.

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        that's genius.

                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          That sounds insane and amazing. Great thought. I'm having trouble not just finishing mine spoonful by spoonful.

                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                            My regular non-TJ's grocery store sells Biscoff cookies... So you could do a double Biscoff cookie truffle.

                                                            1. re: mpjmph

                                                              and tjs has a knock off--bistro biscuits. not sure i could tell the difference blindfolded...

                                                        2. re: chez cherie

                                                          Am I the only one that doesn't like the speculoos spread? I love the cookies, but the spread tastes like a watered down version of them.

                                                        3. Ooh, ooh, ooh-la-la for the Rabitos Royale chocolate truffle-filled dried figs. The filled figs are coated in chocolate, overpackaged, and spendy ($6.99 for 9 pieces). A worthwhile indulgence.

                                                          The trapezoidal red box of chocolate truffles is back. Made in Canada, it is relabeled as Cocoa Truffles rather than French, which I am 99% sure is what the label said in years past. Tastes the same, though (and I suppose a "French-Canadian" descriptor was not considered appealing enough ;>D ).

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                            They were sampling the Cocoa Truffles at TJ's, and they were delicious. My basket was already chock full of sweets, but I have put these on my next TJ's shopping list.

                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                              Used to buy Rabitos figs at a specialty store (amybe 8 years ago?) - they were a good deal at just over $1.00 per fig, so TJ's has managed to lower the price. I have resisted so far.

                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                Those figs somehow jumped into my cart as well. Oh my gosh! They are so rich that I have so far managed to eat just one per day slowly.

                                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                                  Upon further consideration, I think this year's iteration of the chocolate truffles is inferior to the past product. It seems to taste more of oil and less of chocolate - that is what happened, in previous years, when a box was not opened until late spring, but in this case the flavor deterioration is there in a just-bought package.

                                                                2. I bought some of the eggnog flavored almonds which are almonds coated with a eggnog flavored white chocolate. They are very eggnoggy so if you hate eggnog you won't like these. I wasn't sure if I liked them at first but I find myself eating one every time I walk by the container.

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: pinkpoodle

                                                                    Oooh!! Thanks for the review... I LOVE eggnog and this was the ONLY item in the holday flyer that me go WHEEEEE!!!

                                                                    --Dommy!

                                                                    1. re: pinkpoodle

                                                                      Yes, thanks. I opened this just to find out about the alamonds. I love eggnog and there have been no samples yet.

                                                                      They had gingerbread coffee around Thanksgiving which I liked alot. It wasn't very pronounced but a nice background flavor. I don't like the holiday blend as much which has red and green pepper in it as well as other spices.

                                                                      1. re: pinkpoodle

                                                                        They were sampling the eggnog almonds the other day, and my thoughts on them were similar to pinkpoodle's...I nibbled on the eggnog shell to begin with - nice pronounced eggnog flavor but a little too strong (a bit too sweet). I thought to myself nay at first, but the almond balances out the strong eggnog flavor fairly well.

                                                                      2. I finally tried their puff pastry and am disappointed. Although it has a butter flavor you don't get with the Pepperidge Farms brand, it doesn't really puff and has a sweet taste. No puff!

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Terrie H.

                                                                          Did you keep it frozen before using? The one experience I had where it failed to puff was when it had been in a warm car. I think some of the butter melted into the flour by the time I got it home and into the freezer.

                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                            Yes, it came straight from the freezer and was as cold as I could keep it, but it didn't puff much and was pretty tough. :(

                                                                          2. re: Terrie H.

                                                                            I don't like the sweet flavor, either.

                                                                          3. Marzipan stollen (yay!). Also, walnut and cranberry challah.

                                                                            1. So happy that the popcorn tin returned! Features four types of their popcorn in a decorative holiday tin...olive oil, white cheddar, kettle corn, and caramel. A favorite for movie nights :-)

                                                                              1. sigh. the Multi-Flavor Joe-Joe's are officially done for the year. knowing full well that the season for items like this is short, i went today to really stock up on them for Mom...and managed to score one measly box. they told me it was the very last box in all of North Jersey.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                  They still have plenty here in the Seattle area, both the Traders I shop at have a full end stack. I need to get one more box before they pull them.

                                                                                  Steve

                                                                                  www.clubtraderjoes.com

                                                                                  1. re: clubtraderjoes

                                                                                    really? i may ask one of my friends out there to stock up & ship them to me!!

                                                                                2. The eggnog almonds are ok. The eggnog cookies are very good and fabulous dipped in red wine.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                    I loved the Eggnog Almonds! You are giving me the willys talking about dipping eggnog cookies in red wine!

                                                                                    Steve

                                                                                    www.clubtraderjoes.com

                                                                                    1. re: clubtraderjoes

                                                                                      Try it first. Otherwise, your loss.

                                                                                  2. I sampled their Decadent Chocolate cake.. and I like sweet things EXTREMELY sweet things, but it almost knocked me out. Too much. Too rich and too heavy. They were plugging it as a good thing to take as a hostess gift.. OK, but only if you want to 'kill' them with a heavy dose of chalk-chocolate.

                                                                                    1. I noticed today that the eggnog cookies were marked down to 99 cents (Burlington MA).

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                        Same price in California