Pumpkin Season 2017 Taste Test #2

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Last week I was able to fit in a few more tastings of the current pumpkin offerings. Here are the good, the mediocre and the indifferent.

Pumpkin Season 2017 Taste Test #2

Trader Joe’s This Pumpkin Walks Into a Bar … Cereal Bar

I’ve had mixed reactions to cereal bars of this ilk (fruit-filled breakfast bars and cookies). Some are good and some are way too sweet for my taste. That said, I am a big ban of Fig Newtons, even though they are on the sweet side.

So now onto my experience of this Trader Joe’s pumpkin cereal bar. Thankfully, it is not too sweet. As you bring the bar to your mouth, I noted a delightful cinnamon-ginger aroma. Once on the tongue, I found the flavor more reminiscent of a Fig Newton. The pumpkin flavor is soft and muted to me. This is not surprising given that there is more “apple powder” than pumpkin in them. There is a note of cinnamon in the aftertaste, which I found nice.

This pumpkin product didn’t knock my socks off, but I did enjoy eating them.

Trader Joe's This Pumpkin Walks Into a Bar ... Cereal Bars

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin

Trader Joe’s Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries, Pumpkin

I believe a good Toaster Pastry should taste just as good straight out of the packaging as it does when heated in a toaster. Therefore I tasted this pastry under both conditions.

At room temperature, the crust dominated the flavor except for that one bite that comes out of the center. So, what I experienced was a mix of whole wheat crust, a touch of sweetness from the icing, and a center that tasted like a brown sugar cinnamon pastry. Not much pumpkin or pumpkin spice to speak of here.

Now toasted was a different experience altogether. The heat brought out the pumpkin-pie-like flavor so that it partially overrode the brown sugar cinnamon flavor. Not enough for my taste, so I wouldn’t buy these again.

Trader Joe's Organic Frosted Toaster Pastries, Pumpkin

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin

Jell-O Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding & Pie Filling Mix

Jello Instant Pumpkin Spice Pudding and Pie FillingI don’t know how they did it, but this tastes just like regular pumpkin pie filling. The texture is a little softer, but that’s it. This one’s a winner.

Here are a couple of creative ideas for using this mix when you need to make a pumpkin pie but don’t have a lot of time:

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pie #1: Make the pudding and pour into a graham cracker crust. Yep, that’s it. You’re done. For extra pumpkin flavor, you can fold in between 1/4 and 1/2 cup pumpkin puree. And you can top it with Cool Whip or whipped cream.

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Pie #2: Make the pudding. Fold in some Cool Whip or whipped cream (about 2 cups). Pour into a graham cracker crust. Garnish as desired.

Want to spice those recipes up? Instead of using a graham cracker crust, use a ginger snap cookie crust! Crush gingersnaps until you have 1-1/2 cups finely ground crumbs. Stir in 6 Tbsp melted butter. Press mixture into an 8 or 9-inch pie plate and bake at 375° F for 7 minutes. Let cool completely before adding the filling.

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin

Limited Edition Breakfast Belvita, Pumpkin Spice

I was first introduced to Belvita Breakfast Cracker aboard a plane. It was what they served as their “breakfast snack.” Although I was skeptical at first, I was quickly won over. I like them in general and have tried several of their variety of flavors. I find that they are tasty and easy to use as a quick meal on the go. When I saw they had jumped aboard the pumpkin spice wagon, I had to give this limited edition flavor a try.

It did not disappoint. The crackers were lightly seasoned with cinnamon and had a touch of pumpkin flavor, as well. They won’t bowl you over with pumpkin or with spice, but it is a nice change of pace.

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin

Trader Joe’s Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies

If you like shortbread cookies in general, you’re in for a treat. These pumpkin-shaped shortbread cookies are coated with pumpkin spice and yogurt coating. They reminded me a lot of one of my favorite packaged cookies: Mother’s Animal Circus cookies.

In the box, you’ll find two different kinds of these pumpkin spice cookies: creamy white and orange. I’m not sure if it is a trick of the mind or if the coatings actually taste different. I found that the white ones were more vanilla flavored with a touch of pumpkin spice. Whereas, the orange ones had a more spicy flavor.

These cookies would look lovely displayed on a platter for guests to nibble on. And I’m sure kids would love to find them tucked into their lunch pails.

Trader Joe's Petite Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s

Remember the random video my husband and I found on YouTube that inspired this year’s pumpkin product tasting series? Well, it was this product they said was the best of the lot available at Trader Joe’s. And I’m inclined to agree.

These clever sandwich cookies are both spicy and pumpkin-y at the same time. They were fantastic! My husband and I gobbled them up in record time.

The two cookies create a solid pumpkin shortbread style foundation for the sandwich cookie. The filling is creamy and flavored with a ginger-cinnamon flavored pumpkin spice blend. They have a little bit of kick to them (from the ginger) but they aren’t overpowering either. I think they’d taste great with milk, or even egg nog. Alas, I was chowing down on them too quickly to take the time for such niceties.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Joe-Joe's

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin

Trader Joe’s Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce Made with Pumpkin and Butternut Squash

Looking for a change from your typical pasta sauce? Trader Joe’s has created a winner here. At first blush, the sauce doesn’t taste much different than a mild tomato-based sauce. It has a rich blend of herbs and spices that give it texture and depth.

But then, with each bite, you’ll start to notice the notes of pumpkin. Pumpkin itself has a very mild flavor, so it is often overpowered by other flavors. This is why the tomato is the dominant flavor in this sauce. That said, the pumpkin and butternut squash, which is very similar in flavor, give the sauce a nice thick consistency.

I served Trader Joe’s Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce last night over spaghetti along with Trader Joe’s Party Size Mini Meatballs. Yum! As a side dish, I made garlic cheese bread, which was simple to make.

Quick and Easy Garlic Cheese Bread

Take a slice of garlic loaf bread (we get ours at Ralph’s, but I’ve seen similar loaves in other grocery store bakery sections) and toast it in the toaster, set on light. When it comes out, spread some butter on in. Atop that, place a slice of cheese (in this case I used Muenster). Pop in the microwave long enough to melt the cheese. If you have time, heat it in the oven, it will taste better.

Trader Joe's Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce Made with Pumpkin and Butternut Squash
Trader Joe's Autumnal Harvest Creamy Pasta Sauce Made with Pumpkin and Butternut Squash over spaghetti

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin

Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Waffles

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Waffles

If you’re looking for a waffle infused with pumpkin or pumpkin spice flavor, look elsewhere. These simply tasted like plain multi-grain waffles.

I served them with some of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Ice Cream, which I reviewed last week, and that helped.

Now don’t get me wrong, the waffles tasted just fine. They just didn’t taste as described on the packaging.

Rating

thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs up pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin
thumbs down pumpkin

Previous Pumpkin Tastings

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About the author

Carma Spence, The Own Your Awesome Mentor, loves to be the wind beneath her clients’ wings. With Carma’s Cookery, she is taking her passion for empowering people and blending it with her passion for cooking, gift-giving and entertaining. She has been experimenting in the kitchen since she was four years old and loves trying out new recipe ideas.

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