Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Gelato

[By Nick] After receiving multiple requests to review this gelato from Trader Joe's, I finally caved in and bought it. It takes a lot for me to buy a base only flavor as you all know. I love my mix-ins and feel there's only so much a base flavor can be on its own. That's said, I've had great luck with other similar base only gelatos from GS Gelato and The Fresh Market so it was only fair I gave Trader Joe's a shot as well.

Trader Joe's Salted Caramel Gelato

Actually, this is the first product I'll be reviewing from Trader Joe's. Not having one in my area all my life and there being one that opened up not too long ago to where I've moved has limited my experiences with them to just their shelf stable type goods. This is also Trader Joe's first venture into gelato that I can find note of so everything seems to come full circle.

Now before we get to the gelato, can we just talk about this guy on the quart? I can't help but feel offended by this. I'm not sure why but it doesn't strike me in all that positive of a way?. Trader Joe, you're better than these stereotype, add an italian flag or something if you need to fill of some space in a non-offensive way. Okay, rant over.

Removing the lid, this looks exactly like the other two gelatos I've mentioned. A nice dark caramel looking base that is perfect looking if you ask me. Surprisingly, the texture here is a lot denser than the other two yet is in a quart instead of a pint. I know that's not a reason for it to be denser but you tend to experience denser products in smaller qualities.

After letting this temper for a few minutes, the gelato is at a perfect consistency. The gelato itself is quite thick and reminds me a lot about true gelato. As for the flavor, it's very very very similar to GS Gelato's version. I had to make sure that it wasn't in-fact GS who was producing it for sanity sake and surprisingly they aren't. Trader Joe's keeps is a secret because I can't find the actual plant that matches with the number on the quart. Whoever is making it is doing a good job though. The flavor isn't quite as salty as I'd like but enough to let you know it's not a normal buttery caramel base. You get that necessary bite of salt here and there. Actually, this reminds me of a kraft caramel that has been given an added boost of salt.

It's definitely a good gelato overall but I think I'd go with GS and The Fresh Market's before I was to grab this one again. Sure it would be cheaper to go the Trader Joe's route but there's not enough going on to invest in a quart of this stuff when freezer space is a valuable asset to me. Add in a swirl to increase the overall saltiness and consistency and maybe I'd argue it's better but it's just not enough for me. I am however curious as to what Trader Joe's next move is when it comes to producing gelato. They have a good thing here and with the creativity of their other products, the potential is very high.

Verdict?  Great base only gelato but needs more to warrant it's place in my freezer.
Buy Again?  Not likely but I'd recommend others to give it a shot.


Danielle said...

I am also offended by the guy on the container - and why is he wearing socks with heels?!?! haha

Nick Rovo said...

Danielle, those aren't heels. It's the pedal of the bike that make it look like they're heels=p

Anonymous said...

Their Pecan Pie Ice Cream is good.

Ian said...

Loved this flavor, though I think it might be made by Talenti. Very reminiscent of their two caramel offerings.. the ingredients and caloric content are similar to their (now defunct) Argentine Caramel.

Nick Rovo said...

Anon, I saw that while I was there but they were all pretty icy for my liking. Will definitely be trying to grab it again soon though!

Ian, nope it's not made by Talenti either. We have a list of private label producers and their factory codes and Talenti doesn't do private label.

cybele said...

I always thought TJ's ice cream/gelato was Double Rainbow. Or maybe it was at one time and isn't any longer.

Nick Rovo said...

cybele, if it was it isn't anymore. While the company that produces it isn't on our list, it would be from a factory in Georgia from the first part of the code.

Tracey said...

Hi, thanks for the great review and the outstanding site!
In regard to the actual manufacturer, I believe this gelato is made by Talenti because the company opened a plant in Marietta, GA in 2012.
They no longer make their single-flavor Argentine Caramel, but comparing the ingredient lists on both labels shows the same exact ingredients, yet the Trader Joe's version has sugar listed before cream, which would account for the slightly-lower calorie and fat counts.(Argentine Caramel had 200 cals and 9 grams of fat, while Trader Joe's version has 170 cals and 7 grams of fat.)
Here is a link to the press release announcing their Georgia plant: http://www.mariettaga.gov/city/news/readarticle?id=1898

I'm just a big Talenti fan and this gelato sounded too similar to Talenti's stellar products.

Thanks to all of your reviewers for the great work...please keep it up!

Nick Rovo said...

Tracey, after doing some research it seems our plant list is out of date. Looking on a Talenti container, the plant numbers do match up so it is indeed Talenti who makes the gelato. Good eye!

Anonymous said...

Interesting, people seem to love this stuff. I had high expectations but find the texture waaaay too gummy. Almost reminiscent (dare I say it!) of the hideous Breyer's Frozen Dairy Dessert.

Nick Rovo said...

Anon, did you let it properly temper? Gelato can be gummy if you don't let it sit out for a little bit for it to reach the right temperature.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I did let it sit out for five or 10 minutes to soften-up nicely. It just seems like it has waaay too much carob bean gum in it, leaves my mouth coated with a gooey artificial emulsifier feeling. I have some TJ French Vanilla too; it's got carob bean and guar gums in it, but doesn't overwhelm with the sensation of artificial emulsifiers.

Anonymous said...

I love TJ's Salted Caramel gelato it is the closest thing to an ice cream that I loved as a kid it was Chicago Brick a 3 ice cream flavored delight, that was Orange Sherbet, Vanilla,and Caramel Ice cream it was a dark and delicious caramel flavor that somehow melded great with the orange sherbet and of course so did the vanilla. No one makes Chicago Brick anymore Colonial made it for awhile but I believe it was a Dean's flavor also discontinued. So I but some Orange Sherbet and the TJ's caramel and I'm 12 again.