I love Trader Joe’s. Seriously, it’s the best. It’s also slightly dangerous. Sure, they’ve got lots of products that make a healthy lifestyle easy and affordable, but they also have diet-busting delicious things like cookie butter, dark chocolate almond bark, and the best cookie ice cream sandwiches. (It’s certainly not the easiest place to shop at when hungry.) And holiday season is the hardest. Every time I go in, I see something new that sounds too good to resist– peppermint marshmallows, peppermint bark bars, dark chocolate triple ginger cookies (!!!)…you get the idea. So far, I’ve managed to resist temptation, but when my mom told me she picked up some of the gingerbread cake & baking mix, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t secretly excited.
Now that I’m back home, I had the chance to try the mix out. This is a seasonal product, and they’ve really been pushing it recently in stores (the past few times I’ve been, they were sampling various versions of the bread). It’s reasonably priced at about $2.50 and super easy to put together– just add egg, water, and oil to make a cake, or you can make cookies with a few extra ingredients and some refrigeration.
I decided to make muffins with the mix. Instead of using oil, I substituted unsweetened applesauce (to keep with the Trader Joe’s theme, I used their unsweetened Gravenstein applesauce) but kept the egg and water the same. The mix made enough to fill 12 regular-sized muffin tins 2/3 full (barely, one was noticeably smaller than the others). Because I was making muffins instead of a cake, I only needed to bake them in the oven for 20 minutes, at which time they came out perfectly.
They were delicious warm, but I’m sure they will taste just as good once cooled. I was worried there wouldn’t be as much of a spice taste that I love so much, but these were perfect: rich, slightly spicy, and just what I want from gingerbread. I would certainly use this mix again if I was looking for a quick gingerbread option. The only other mix I’ve used is the Betty Crocker one, which was sweeter and had less of a ginger taste. Needless to say, it was alright and certainly serve-able, but I wasn’t impressed enough to use it again.
Like the title of this post says, these were incredibly easy to put together, so much so that I hesitated even devoting a post to this. It took me maybe 7 minutes to mix up the batter, and they only took 20 minutes to bake. These would be perfect for a last-minute holiday dessert at a casual dinner party.
While they’re tasty enough plain, the muffins would also be great with fresh whipped cream on top. (Avoid a cream cheese frosting, it would be way too rich.) You could also try mixing in dark chocolate chips or dried cranberries for some added flavor.