Tea cookies are so effing classy. First, they are vaguely European, which transforms them from “fattening snack” into “cultural immersion”. Second, the name implies that I’m enjoying a nice cup of tea along with them instead of cramming a dozen in my mouth and coughing up powdered sugar for the next hour. I will try to live up to these cookies’ expectations as I review Trader Joe’s Wintertide Tea Cookie Collection.
There are three cookies in Trader Joe’s Wintertide Tea Cookie Collection: gingerbread, hot cocoa, and Italian wedding. These are the latest addition in Trader Joe’s “fancy party cookie collection” they’ve been doing this season. Since the only fancy party I have to attend is my cat’s quinceanera, I’m just gonna eat them all myself. TJ’s knocked it out of the park with the Butterscotch Wreath Cookies, and they’ve done an excellent job with tea cookies before, too. I’m going in with high hopes. Overall, they look the part: a little on the small side, but since they are supposed to be for nibbling then I guess I can adjust on my end and eat them in fistfuls.
First up: Gingerbread. For how delicate and small these cookies are, this first one packs a punch. This is not gingerbread, this is a ginger apocalypse. From start to finish it is just a massacre on your taste buds of ginger at all angles, from ginger powder to crystallized bits of ginger. I’m pretty sure they murdered the Gingerbread Man and used his bones to flavor these cookies. The thing that doesn’t work for me is that there is no other flavor at all. When I think of gingerbread, I think ginger AS WELL AS nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. As the ingredients list confirms, there’s just ginger in these bad boys. A LOT of ginger. For all you gingerheads out there, you’ll be in heaven. For me, not so much.
Next up: Hot cocoa. Oh my God, good lord. These cookies are phenomenal. I don’t know who cracked the Hot Cocoa Code this season, but these are on par with the Chips Ahoy Hot Cocoa Cookies. The rich, fudgey cocoa flavor is exactly like it should be. There are no mini marshmallows in here (remember: classy), but the dusting of powdered sugar makes up for it by adding the layer of pure light sweetness that every cocoa cookie needs. I never want to stop eating these.
Lastly: Italian Wedding. The most traditional of all the flavors, Trader Joe’s really nails it with this one as well. Italian Wedding cookies are beautiful precisely because of their simplicity, and that’s represented perfectly here: crumbly, buttery, slightly nutty, with melty powdered sugar on top. I’m particularly impressed by that powdered sugar, too: it’s pure and natural, and doesn’t leave any weird filmy stuff at the top of your mouth. I know it’s not difficult to make these from a technical perspective (they are mostly butter, sugar, and almonds), but I’m still blown away at how good they are. Not “good for a store-bought cookie”, or even “good for Trader Joe’s”. Just a damn good cookie that would stand up well against any fancy party’s cookie lineup.
I should add that, as per usual, Trader Joe’s Wintertide Cookie Collection tastes homemade. Nothing comes off as artificial, and for the most part, not much is. The cost is a little steep for just buying them as a personal snack, but if I DID have any parties to attend, I would definitely bring these along with me. But I’d probably just give out the ginger ones and keep the other two in my coat because I don’t want to share. After all, these cookies are all about class. What’s classier than a woman who knows what she wants (cookies) and holds on to it (hides cookies in her clothes)?
Gingerbread Cookie Rating: 4.5 out of 10
Hot Cocoa Cookie Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Italian Wedding Cookie Rating: 10 out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 out of 10