The birds are chirping, the sun is shining and Trader Joe’s has, once again, released a new item that tests the bounds of what we thought a grocery store was capable of. All’s right with the world. If you’re a TJ’s superfan like us, and get your monthly adrenalin rush by scrolling though traderjoes.com to see what new items have arrived, you may have heard buzz about their latest fan favorite: Hot Cocoa Inspired Cream Cheese Spread. The item is a subtle, chocolatey, creamy spread that’s somewhat akin to chocolate yogurt. It has just enough sweetness to be enjoyable but not overbearing, with a hint of vanilla to mimic marshmallows. The cream cheese is $2.79 and kosher certified.
On the top of the container, Trader Joe’s includes three suggestions for how to use the spread, including one particularly Jewish recommendation: on a bagel. And while schmearing this cream cheese on a bagel (acceptable flavors include, but are not limited to: cinnamon-raisin, poppyseed and plain; onion is indefensible) or a graham cracker or piece of fruit, as they also suggest, sound delicious, we’re thinking bigger. Here are all the ways we intend to use this new product to put a hot-chocolate-y twist on some of our favorite Jewish foods.
Note: Depending on your taste, you may want to decrease the amount of sugar in your existing rugelach dough, cheesecake and hamantaschen recipes, considering the hot cocoa cream cheese is already sweetened.
American-style rugelach dough is traditionally enriched with cream cheese, so why not bump it up a notch by using hot cocoa cream cheese. A chocolate-based rugelach dough lends itself to several different fillings: a chocolate filling to make double-chocolate rugelach; a marshmallow fluff filling à la our s’mores rugelach recipe, to fully embrace the hot cocoa vibe; or a strawberry or raspberry jam filling for a classic chocolate + fruit combo.
We eat cheesecake all year long — it’s too delicious to save for Shavuot. It’s surprisingly easy to make, and we plan to sub regular cream cheese for TJ’s hot cocoa cream cheese in this classic recipe for a chocolate cheesecake (the melted chocolate add-in is optional, but encouraged). Pair with a chocolate biscuit crust to amp up the chocolate flavor.
With Purim right around the corner, we think we’ll put a spin on this already insanely good cannoli hamantaschen recipe by using the hot chocolate cream cheese in place of regular. And because the original recipe uses regular chocolate chips to complement a vanilla cream cheese filling, we’ll opt for white chocolate chips, to complement the chocolate cream cheese filling.
Blintz her? I don’t even know her! The perfect treat already for Shavuot, Yom Kippur break fast, Sunday morning brunch or just whenever you need a pick-me-up. Now imagine how good they would be with a hot cocoa cream cheese filling and a mug of hot chocolate on the side.
Challah French Toast
Taking inspiration from this stuffed challah French toast recipe, we think this spread would make a fabulous filling. After leaving the cream cheese out to soften for a bit, create a pocket in a thick slice of challah and stuff it with the softened spread, then coat it in an egg-y mixture, and fry in butter. Finish your French toast with a sprinkling of powdered sugar — or cocoa powder if you want to stay on the chocolate train — and some freshly cut strawberries on the side.
When you’re not in the mood to bake or need a sweet fix right away, snag a loaf of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Brooklyn Babka after hitting the cream cheese section of the store, and enjoy the spread on a toasted slice.