I have a confession to make. And it may shock you.
Are you ready?
I have never ever, not even once, tried Nutella.
I hear your gasp all the way over here. I warned you that it may shock you.
I know, I know. I have no excuse really. Truthfully, I didn't even know it existed until a few years ago when my students were bringing it with their fruit for snack or lunch. Even then, I just thought it was some new-fangled kid food, like Crustables. But then I started noticing people making references to it and its apparent amazingness on Facebook. It didn't really phase me though, I had lived twenty-some years without it, and I figured I was doing just fine. Others didn't think so, but I did.
Then I saw a recipe that called for it. There it was -- my excuse to finally give in and try it. I headed out to do my grocery shopping with "Nutella" scribbled on my list. Right after a stop at Trader Joe's I was going to dash over to Safeway to pick some up... but you know how Trader Joe's is, right? They have these yummy samples all the time. And my local TJ's doesn't just have one, but they always serve two samples, plus coffee and tea. (Are you starting to see why I have a love affair going on with them?) And guess what one of the samples was that day? Yup, you got it. The Trader Joe's version of Nutella, served up with pretzels.
Creamy, sweet, and chocolately, it was delicious. I crossed Nutella off my list and grabbed one of these off the shelf, tossing it into my cart. Basically, from what I found out via those who have studied this intensely (and there are quite a few, surprisingly) the main difference is that Nutella is made with hazelnuts while Trader Joe's Cocoa Almond Spread is made with, you guessed it, almonds. Calorie-wise they are about the same, both contain no artificial colors/flavors or preservatives, and they are both the same price, at least in my neck of the woods. But you know what this one has over the other, at least for me? Convenience. As you know, I am a shopper of TJ's and if I can get it all in one spot for a low price, why not?
(Check back soon to see this bad-boy in action.)