Trader Joe’s Chocolate Croissants : A Taste of Paris for Breakfast

By Tsz on March 13, 2012

Gastrophoria is a pain au chocolat fresh out of the oven.

My first experience was when I visited Europe (1st timer!) last year. I had just landed at the Orly airport during the last leg of my European adventures and was absolutely famished. Due to a lack of funds (Europe is not cheap I tell you), I settled on this unassuming pastry from the airport’s bakery for my first dinner in Paris. It was heavenly.

Layers upon layers of flaky pastry surrounding a dark chocolate bar that’s in a semi-liquidly state, it was a rhapsody in carbs and sugar. Needless to say, I attempted to eat one for each day I was in Paris. Fortunately for my waistline, I walked everywhere—partly due to my curiosity and partly due to the lack of understanding of the metro system.

Ever since I got back, I craved pain au chocolat. Mercifully, the experience can be closely recreated at home, sans the $1000 plane ticket.

Believe it or not, Trader Joe’s has a top-notch pain au chocolat (or chocolate croissant as they like to call it) in the freezer aisle. All you need is to plop the little pastry bundles on a cookie sheet, let them rise over night (they expand 4 times its own size) and bake for 20-30 minutes. Et voila, a taste of Paris!

Best paired with a vroom vroom red nail polish a la Chanel 475 Dragon for a balanced breakfast. Bon appetite!


Minty Mallows : Trader Joe’s Does it Again

By Tsz on December 26, 2011

Gastrophoria is Minty Mallows from Trader Joe’s.

One of my favorite times to visit TJ’s is during holiday season as that’s when they debut unbelievable limited-edition goodies. This year, I must say they outdid themselves with their Minty Mallows.

Taking a page from Parisian Chocolatiers, these gems are cubes of dense and refreshing peppermint marshmallows that are enrobed in dark chocolate. Like peppermint bark but upgraded to version 2.0! What’s better is that they’re actually made in France, but a box costs only $2.99—much cheaper than a plane ticket.

Only thing I wished is that I bought more boxes…


My New Trader Joe’s Addiction : Peanut Butter Goodies

By Tsz on April 12, 2011

Girl Scouts better watch out. The cookie syndicate may have the thin mints and Samoas market cornered, but they may soon be losing foothold on the Tagalong business.

Yes, Trader Joe’s is encroaching on GS’s sacred peanut butter cookie territory with their newest substance, the Peanut Butter Goodies.

Being a long-time loyal GS user, um, supporter, I was skeptical of this product, thinking no way will it ever be as good as the original. But, at under $3 a box (25% cheaper than the real deal), it warranted a try. Besides, I was jonesing for a cookie fix at the time.

So, I rush home with my new purchase, hands slightly trembling as I dissembled the box. Under the fragile cellophane jacket, 16 ravishing chocolate-covered discs grinned at me with their peanut freckles.

I already knew this was going to be some good stuff.

Taking my first bite, my senses were assaulted with a symphony of flavors and textures: crunchy cookie, smooth peanut butter mousse with just the right amount of salt, all concealed by a thick layer of rich milk chocolate. To make them extra lethal, TJ’s laced the PB goodies with crushed peanuts on top for even more texture.

Suddenly, Tagalongs with their feeble chocolate coating, seems diluted compared to TJ’s wares. What’s more is that these PB Goodies taste so much more substantial and real with contrasting textures and striking the delicate balance of sweet vs. salty. Hmm, better have another one just to make sure it’s not a fluke.

1/4 box after, consider me a convert. Now, if you would excuse me, I’ll just ride out this sweet sugar high, thank you very much.


When Life Gives You Lemons… Make Lemon Curd

By Tsz on December 14, 2010

I am quite spoiled—in the lemon department.

Shortly after moving to our house 15 some years ago, my family went on a day trip to Home Depot to look for plants for the front and back yard. My mom chose roses in all sorts of colors; my dad got the standard shrubbery; my little brother didn’t care as he could barely even walk; and I, a lemon sapling. This could have very been a forecast of what’s to come in my future!

In just a few years, the sapling grew from the top of my navel to taller than our house, producing an endless supply of lemons. We used them for lemonade, lemon coke, preserved lemons—nothing beats walking just a few yards for the fresh stuff.

It wasn’t till recently that I ventured out the beverage arena to give lemon curd a try. Armed with a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, I went and picked out 2 plump specimens and got to work.

In a medium saucepan, I whisked together 1 cup sugar, 1 TB lemon zest and 8 egg yolks. Next I mixed in 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons) and 1/4 tsp salt.

Once all the ingredients are well incorporated, I set the pan over medium-high heat and added in 10 TB unsalted butter, which equals to 1 1/4 sticks. I whisked constantly as lemon scent scrambled eggs wasn’t my goal!

In a few minutes, it was thick enough to coat a the back of a spoon. Strained and cooled in the fridge for a few hours, I had 2 cups of the lip-puckering compound.

Lacking foresight however, I did not prepare anything to serve the curd with… fail.

After a mad scrambled, I found a box of Trader Joe’s Vanilla Meringues, the hero of the day. With a generous smear of the lemon curd in between the airy cookies, I had myself a deconstructed lemon meringue pie! It works especially well as the cookies by themselves were too sweet for my taste so the lemon curd was instrumental in balancing the saccharine meringues.

Love the classy ridges on the meringues. Makes me want to ask, “oh you fancy huh?

Hope you give it a try!