I consider myself a Trader Joe’s expert, a TJ Connoisseur, if you will. So imagine my embarrassment and dismay when I learned that there was a product at Trader Joe’s, an exceedingly popular and rare product, that I had not a clue about!
Honestly, I’m going to have to be more diligent and thorough in the reading of all future Fearless Flyers!
This hot newish product is called Speculoos.
Speculoos Cookie Butter, to be exact, and it has proven to be a major phenomenon for Trader Joe’s. It took the top spot in Trader Joe’s annual “most popular products” list in 2012.
Then, in 2013, Trader Joe’s expanded the line and released a crunchy version. And like many Trader Joe’s items, the cookie butter is a knock-off of a brand-name product: Biscoff Spread, manufactured in Belgium by a company called Lotus. Made from thin, crispy cookies called speculoos (or spekulaas) that are eaten during the holidays. Biscoff’s cookie butter premiered in Europe in 2007. I just discovered that it is sold at Cost Plus World Market.
You’re reading this right – cookie butter is made of not ground-up peanuts and oil but rather ground-up cookies and oil. Cookie butter is like the rich, sweeter, and more handsome cousin of peanut butter! You can smear it on toast or crackers or use it as a dip for pretzels, apples or celery.
So yeah, it’s literally – spreadable cookies!
The Trader Joe’s flavor is gingersnap. Well actually, the label says – “A deliciously unusual spread reminiscent of gingerbread and made with crushed biscuits” – so basically gingersnaps.
And it is To Die For!
I did learn that one of the reasons I may be able to forgive myself for not knowing about Speculoos sooner, is because it has been in short supply since it made its TJ début in late 2011. So popular, in fact, that the spread has its own Facebook Page.
Now … just in case TJ’s has a problem keeping this treasure in-stock in the future, I’ve decided to try making my own.
The question was, “What flavor cookie should I use?” Peanut butter seemed too obvious and gingersnaps are already being done … to perfection. The cookies need to be crispy crunchy – not soft and chewy. No fillings, so that leaves out Oreos and such. Certainly no Fig Newtons (ugg)!
I scanned the cookie aisle and came up with five candidates. I made the five flavors of cookie butter and then sent a text out to six of my friends and neighbors on Saturday morning and asked them if they might be able to come by between 2:00 and 5:00 and do a taste test for me. Shockingly, all replied within seconds and said they could help!
Here is what greeted them when they arrived.
Each was asked to taste the five concoctions in front of them, to not ask questions about what they were eating, and then to rank them in order; #1 being their favorite … through #5 – being their least favorite. I then crunched all the numbers and found the average ranking of each of the cookie butters.
This is the average of how the ladies ranked them:
- Pepperidge Farm Chessmen
- Chocolate Chip
- Pepperidge Farm Coconut
- Pecan Sandies
Only one person ranked the Pecan Sandies Cookie Butter higher than 4th or 5th place. In fact, four of my taste testers put it in last place, and two of those wrote “yuck” in their comments.
Of course, one of the reasons I chose to use Pecan Sandies is because I love those cookies, but they were right, they do not make a good cookie butter. Snickerdoodles won by a landslide. Chessmen, Chocolate Chip and Coconut were pretty tight in the scoring.
I pawned all the remaining Cookie Butter off on my neighbors on Sunday morning, leaving it on their doorsteps. I can’t have that stuff in the house. Well, I do still have the jar from Trader Joe’s but that doesn’t have to be eaten within 10 days, so I’ll keep it “out of sight and out of mind”… hopefully!
Many thanks to my fan-tab-ulous taste-test panel – Peggy, Lisa, Ronnie, Anne, Amy and Melissa! xoxo
Homemade Cookie Butter
4 ounces of the crispy crunchy cookies of your choice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 to 2 tablespoons water
1/4 to 1/3 cup powdered sugar
Place 4 ounces of the crispy crunchy cookies of your choice in a food processor or high-power blender.
Now process and blend those things until they won’t process or blend any finer.
Keep the machine running and slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil.
With the machine still running, add 1 tablespoon of water at a time to get a smooth consistency.
Add the powdered sugar until the mixture reaches your desired spreadable consistency.
Keep tightly sealed in a small jar and use within 10 days.
Makes about 1/2 cup