Three days into January, Trader Joe's announced its first new product of 2019, vegan Jackfruit Cakes. The introduction of this product made quite a splash partly because the start of a new year had many people considering a switch to veganism and partly because it stars an ingredient that had been predicted as one of 2019's biggest food trends. After seeing the buzz that so quickly formed around the launch of Trader Joe's new Jackfruit Cakes, we decided we needed to see if they held up to the hype.
We began our Jackfruit Cake taste test by pre-heating the oven to 400 degrees F and placing the thawing pucks of jackfruit on a non-stick pan. The directions on the back of the box indicate that to achieve a crispier texture, the cakes should be thawed before being cooked, which takes one hour at room temperature and 24 hours in the refrigerator. Given that the main appeal of most of Trader Joe's frozen dishes is that they're quick and easy to prepare, having to wait an hour (or remember to transfer the cakes from freezer to fridge 24 hours before you want to eat them) in order for them to reach their highest potential is a bit of a bummer. Still, the instructions state that you can also simply cook the dish longer if you happen to be impatient or forgetful, so it's not a total deal-breaker.
Just as we would with a crab cake, we dug into the Jackfruit Cakes with a fork once they were out of the oven, and it immediately became evident that all we had heard about the texture of jackfruit is true. The shredded bits of fruit did have the same meaty texture as crab. Also like a crab cake, these cakes were crispy on the outside, fleshy on the inside, and seasoned to perfection with pepper, green onion, and celery salt. They also had an unexpected kick of cilantro.
As we cut the Jackfruit Cakes into bite-sized pieces, we did notice that they were a bit gummy. After reviewing the ingredients on the back of the box, we concluded that that clagginess was likely a result of the tapioca starch that's used to keep the cake's form. Once the bites were in our mouths, however, the sticky texture wasn't apparent, so it didn't detract.
The cakes are, overall, delicious, but it's important note that they do not taste like crab cakes. Yes, the texture's pretty much the same and the seasoning is similar, but there is no fishy flavor. As non-vegans, we added a few shakes of fish sauce to one of the Jackfruit Cakes we ate, which made them even more amazing.But as long as you approach these cakes knowing they're not meant to taste exactly like crab cakes, we predict most Trader Joe's fans will like them.