The holidays are coming. Besides the Halloween and Christmas decorations at Target, and pumpkins in the grocery store, the other indicator that the seasons are changing is when Trader Joe's starts to stock their fall/holiday items, expensive meats/appetizers, and expands the baking section. Some of my favorite TJ products are only available this time of the year and that makes them extra special. Favorites include peppermint Jo-Jo's (cookies) and pumpkin butter. I didn't see the cookies yet, but the pumpkin butter was sitting prettily on the shelf so I picked one up. I also noticed in the cookie section maple leaf cookies. These are maple cookies sandwiched around a maple vanilla filling. Oh. Yum. Alas, the nutrition information is quite terrible, so I didn't buy a box, but I will at some point for a get-together or other "special" event when they can be shared.
I did, however, buy a new product that I hope will be a year-round product and not a seasonal one. Whenever I do my shopping, I make sure to peruse "new product" end cap by the dairy section. I'm familiar enough with TJ products that I can usually spot new ones as I stroll the aisle, but I always check this end cap just to make sure I didn't miss anything interesting. This week, I spotted retro-designed boxes of instant pudding. I couldn't help myself. The decision was not to buy a box or not, but whether to get vanilla or chocolate. I opted for chocolate.
Instant pudding is one of those simple-stupid things to make. Really. Can't screw it up even if you tried. I whisked the pudding with the called for cold milk (nonfat in my case even though the box wanted 2%) in my brand new 4-cup Pyrex measuring cup with the non-slide bottom. This is exactly the sort of thing I wanted this cup for. I only got it a couple weekends ago and this was my first recipe putting it to work. The sticky silicon ring on the bottom of the cup held like glue to the counter while I whisked. The size was perfect for whisking, and the spout allowed me to easily pour the pudding into the cups.
Here is the box and measuring cup at work:
After dinner Monday night, we had pudding for dessert. I'm no connoisseur of instant puddings as the only time I eat it is when it's in a berry trifle, but I thought this TJ instant pudding was very good. The chocolate was almost the exact same chocolate flavor as a brownie batter which means it's very chocolate-y. We both thought the pudding was just a teensy bit grainy. I'm not sure if that's because I didn't whisk it enough or if that's just how instant pudding is. The little bit of grain didn't bother us in the slightest. The second day we had the pudding, a little skin had formed on the top but nothing too disgusting. The box says this pudding makes excellent pie filling, so I think Steve will get a chocolate pudding pie sometime in the months ahead. But before that, I want to give the vanilla a try, too.
All in all, I would highly recommend this instant pudding for it's very satisfying chocolate taste, creamy consistency (even if using nonfat milk), completely idiot-proof instructions, and friendly price.