Review by Gary Whitehouse: I’m in the habit of having something sweet with a bit of tea or coffee most evenings, an hour or two after dinner. My particular weakness has always been cookies. Of course, the best are homemade, especially if they involve chocolate, but I’m pretty much a cookie slut. As long as it’s sweet, chewy or crunchy (or better yet, a combination of both textures), and not gluten-free … I’ll eat it with gusto.
I’ve been known to enjoy Trader Joe’s regular Joe-Joe’s, especially their chocolate-peanut butter flavor. But I generally avoid them because they tend to be pretty high in fat, sugar, and therefore calories. And I find that so many of today’s store-bought treats tend to be very sweet. Very very sweet, not to put too fine a point on it. But the powers that be sent me a double pack of these goodies and wanted a review, so who am I to look a gift cookie in the mouth?
These cookies start out as naked TJ’s chocolate-peanut butter Joe-Joe’s sandwich cookies. Then they’re “enrobed” in a peanut butter coating, which is then decorated with a chocolate drizzle. True to TJ’s form, on first bite the overwhelming impression is of sweetness. Then the peanut butter flavor kicks in, and as it’s chewed, the crispy cookie layers give up their chocolate flavor. Ever since Reese’s invented the peanut butter cup, it’s been common knowledge that chocolate and peanut butter go well together, and this cookie is no exception. And, it’s kinda good? But.
It’s really sweet. And it’s not my imagination, either. Sugar is the top ingredient in the peanut butter coating, which hits your tongue first. Next is palm kernel oil, followed by “partially defatted peanut flour,” and several other things like emulsifiers. I mean, they can’t just smear actual peanut butter on the outside of a cookie, right? So it has to be a peanut butter flavored stuff that will hold its shape, not melt in the package, and not come off on your fingers when you eat it. It does that job quite well, and tastes passably peanutty, just very sweet. And a bit … gummy? Those emulsifiers give it an odd texture, if you’re paying too much attention. The crispy cookie pieces are nice and crunchy and chocolatey, and the chocolate drizzle … well, it’s mostly for decoration but I’m sure it adds a little bit of chocolate flavor to the peanut buttery exterior. Sugar’s the top ingredient in the drizzle too. It’s not the top ingredient in the chocolate cookies (that would be flour) but they contain three types of sugar, so, yeah.
The first time I tried these I had them with hot English Breakfast tea, and overall I wasn’t that impressed. Next night I tried one with coffee, and it was much better! The bitter, savory nature of the coffee cuts through both the sweetness and the emulsifiers better than tea. In fact, TJ’s on its website suggests having this cookie with coffee or milk. I’m not a milk drinker so I can’t address that, but the coffee suggestion is right on.
Going through the Nutrition Information label, they’re pretty high in fat and added sugars, at 130 calories per serving, which is one cookie. I’d be hard pressed to eat more than one at a time. You won’t gobble up this pack of eight cookies in one sitting. Good to put on a platter at a social occasion! They’re tasty and definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. I don’t think they need to be as sugary as they are, but then I’m not the one making gazillions of dollars selling high-end snacks to the bougies, so what do I know?
Gary Whitehouse (he, him), a lifelong resident of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, is a retired reporter, editor, and government communicator. He’s also a lifelong lover of books and music, which he has been writing about online for nearly a quarter of a century. His other passions include birding, standard poodles, chocolate, coffee, and craft ales.