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Taste-test, Aisle 1.

New Old World Cookies: Trader Joe's Cookie Thins

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[Photographs: Carrie Vasios]

A few weeks ago, I tried Trader Joe's new Chocolat de Belgique candy bars. I thought those bars were pretty darn delicious, so when I saw that there was not only another new sweet on display, but that it was cookies, I immediately snapped up a box.

Trader Joe's Toasted Coconut Cookie Thins are the third addition to the Cookie Thin line— joining previous flavors Meyer Lemon and Triple Ginger. I was shocked to discover that I hadn't tried any of these cookies. (Though to my credit, Trader Joe's tends to prominently display the Two Buck Chuck while hiding the cookies on a shelf above the frozen shrimp puffs. Obviously I spend my time near the shiny bottles.)

I was excited to try the cookies. They had fancy ingredients like Meyer Lemon and they promised to work from "Old World recipes." Sure, I should have realized that my great-grandmother wasn't making toasted coconut cookie thins to serve after her lasagna, but the packaging was enticing all the same.

Let's start with the positives. All three cookies are extra thin and crunchy, which fans of other snappy cookies like Anna's will appreciate. And at about 130 calories for 8 cookies, you can have a nice little snack without breaking the caloric bank.

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As a huge fan of ginger, I was hoping that the Triple Ginger Thins would deliver the promised triple (not single, not double) ginger flavor. Alas they were more sugary than gingery—in fact the flavor verged on what I call the "Christmas Spice Melange" as opposed to pure ginger, which was a disappointment. Still, the flavor wasn't bad, with its stomach calming, warming spices, and I'd serve these to kids on a school bus trip or even crumble them over ice cream.

The cookies claim to have no artificial flavors or preservatives, and yet I can't believe that the Meyer Lemon Thins are made any other way. The cookies taste like artificial lemon hard candy and have an unfortunate, funky aftertaste. Many companies have misstepped when trying to replicate the taste of Meyer lemons, but that doesn't excuse cookies that taste like dish soap.

Toasted Coconut is the newest flavor, but it's not doing the line any favors. Again, the cookies tasted more like sugar than like coconut. There was a subtle, unsettling caramel flavor that accompanied the coconut—I'm guessing this is the "toasted" essence. I'll emphasize that both the coconut and the toasty flavors were subtle—so subtle that I would probably have to eat nine or ten of them to build up enough coconut flavor to be satisfied. Unfortunately the cookies also left a greasy film on my hands. Was that the extract leaking out? I don't know, but I'm sure my Nonna wouldn't have approved.

The bottom line? If you want Old World sweets, go to an Italian bakery, pick up some paczki, or bake up some babka, but don't count on these thins.

About the author: Carrie Vasios is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios

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