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Trader Joe's Raw California Walnut Baking Pieces

Over my years of patronizing Trader Joe's, I've become quite loyal to the baking section. They don't have the largest selection, but they carry most essentials (except plain white sugar...that is far too processed and un-organic. :P) at a reasonable price. Of course, they carry all of those alternative baking ingredients for those who adhere to vegan and gluten-free diets, which is great compared to Whole Paycheck prices. I, however, am not about shelling out $5-$8 for a tiny bag of coconut/almond flour that I won't use. I do plop down proverbial cash (millennials don't carry cash y'all) for good ingredients - white whole wheat flour on occasion, vanilla extract (TJ's carries my fav), and nuts for the times I decide a recipe is worth excluding those with nut allergies. 

PSA: The Great British Baking Show is back on Netflix y'all. THREE SEASONS. THANK YOU. Right, now that I've gotten my GBBO mention out of the way, back to walnuts. These walnut baking pieces are new, kind of. It's basically the smaller pieced version of the regular raw California walnuts. I had used those before but found myself having to break them into smaller pieces for baking. I don't really snack on walnuts at all, so it was easier to pick up the baking pieces instead for the same price ($4.99 per pound. Cheaper than most stores in my area!). I picked these up exclusively for my attempt at recreating those famous Levain Bakery chocolate and walnut cookies

Just walnuts. Love it. 

Levain Bakery is one of those popular NYC bakeries where people willingly wait in line in the cold to fork over $4 for one cookie. To be fair, they have every right to charge that price. Upper west side rent ain't cheap, and those cookies are more like scones than cookies. I was convinced, however, that these weren't too difficult to recreate at home, and the internet agreed. Seems like everyone has a copycat recipe on their baking blog. I tried Kirbie's version, and the results were beyond my expectation. I used a little less sugar and made the cookies about half the size of her's, but they were probably one of the most delicious cookies I have ever made. Seriously. That stuff is crack. Try it. 

The only thing I forget to do with these walnuts is toast them beforehand. Toasted nuts make all the difference in baked goods, but I'm usually too impatient to take that extra step. If you buy these nuts, please make those cookies. But if it seems like too much work, one-bowl banana bread is basically foolproof and good for those starting out with baking. 

In sum, the value breaks down to this:
1) Good price 
2) Good quality
3) Convenience for tossing into muffins, breads, cookies, etc. 

TL;DR: Trader Joe's Raw California Walnut Baking Pieces. On your mark, get set, BAKE! 7.5 out of 10. 



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