Certain grocery stores have cult favorites, products that are must-haves according to the opinions of dedicated customers. At Aldi, those rockstar products include “red bag” chicken, peanut butter cups, take and bake pizzas, and knockoff Girl Scout cookies. Aldi’s cousin Trader Joe’s has some of its own “don’t miss” products, including shawarma chicken, Hold the Cone ice cream cones, mandarin orange chicken, bamba, and various Indian dishes.
Among the most-often-recommended TJ’s products I see mentioned on a social media page I follow are some simple sheet cakes. They’re founded in the store’s baked goods area and don’t need refrigeration. They’re available in vanilla or chocolate flavors.
While these cakes are intended to be eaten as is, if you hang around on Trader Joe’s social media fan pages or Reddit threads, you’ll see people sharing TJ’s sheet cake hacks where they might stack several cakes to create a layer cake, or they might slice and deconstruct one of these cakes to shape it like a number (for a birthday) and perhaps add additional frosting (either homemade or store-bought).
Trader Joe’s Mini Sheet Cakes cost $4.49 for an 18-ounce cake at the time of publication. Each cake measures about 8 inches by 6 inches, so these aren’t large cakes for the price. Each cake has six servings, so that comes out to about 75 cents per serving.
You can choose a Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean cake, which features a “moist, flavorful cake with a smooth vanilla bean buttercream frosting.” Or you can get a Dark Chocolate Ganache cake, which features a “moist, flavorful cake with a smooth ganache cream cheese frosting.”
After sampling both the chocolate cake and vanilla cake, I now understand why these are so popular among Trader Joe’s fans. They are decadent, moist, flavorful, and simply some of the best sheet cakes I’ve ever had. I’m not typically a cake person, preferring ice cream, cheesecake, macarons, or other desserts over cake. But these cakes might make me a convert. The only other cakes I’ve liked as much as these include a carrot cake Aldi sells during the Easter season most years and some German cream cakes Aldi sells during German week.
The Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean Cake has a very sweet frosting with a light, almost delicate consistency and visible vanilla bean specks in the frosting. The cake itself is also light and has just the right amount of sweetness. Chantilly cream, by the way, has French origins and traditionally consists of sweetened whipped cream with vanilla extract or flavoring added, although the TJ’s version clearly has more ingredients to help make it shelf stable and make it last longer. Some people suggest serving this cake with sliced strawberries or other fresh fruit.
The chocolate cake is rich and moist, and the frosting is distinct on this one because it’s very thick and tastes extremely rich and indulgent. The chocolate frosting has a fudge-like consistency and isn’t as soft as the vanilla frosting. I can’t confirm, but I’ve seen rumors on TJ’s forums that this chocolate cake flavor may temporarily disappear during the winter holidays to make room for other products, and the word is that it returns sometime in January. But again, I don’t know that for sure.
Your individual preferences may vary, but my family generally liked the vanilla cake the best. The vanilla frosting is a real standout, and I’d have a hard time finding something similar from another grocery store or restaurant. The chocolate cake is also fantastic, so which cake you like best may just depend on how much of a chocolate fan you are.
The only minor quibble I have with these cakes is that the cardboard trays the cakes are sold in are not the sturdiest things. The tray the vanilla cake came in tore slightly on the bottom while I was opening the cake. I ended up wrapping the bottom portion of the tray in some aluminum foil to help keep the cake fresh until my family finished it. The fact that trays aren’t the strongest does make it easier to remove the cakes if you want to stack them to create a layer cake or make some other kind of “Trader Joe’s sheet cake hack.” So just be careful when handling the containers, and have fun.
That aside, I’d happily buy both of these cakes again, although my waistline wouldn’t thank me for it.
Read on for more information about each cake flavor.
Trader Joe’s Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean Cake
One serving of this vanilla cake will net you 340 calories, 19 grams of total fat (24% DV), 8 grams of saturated fat (40% DV), 50 mg of cholesterol (17% DV), 250 mg of sodium (11% DV), 43 grams of total carbohydrates (16% DV), and 34 grams of added sugar (68% DV).
If you’re looking out for allergens, this vanilla cake contains milk, egg, and wheat. It may contain traces of soy, walnut, and coconut.
Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Ganache Cake
One serving of this chocolate cake has 320 calories, 17 grams of total fat (22% DV), 6 grams of saturated fat (30% DV), 40 mg of cholesterol (13% DV), 260 mg of sodium (11% DV), 42 grams of total carbohydrates (15% DV), and 32 grams of added sugar (64% DV).
If you’re looking out for allergens, this chocolate cake contains wheat, milk, eggs, and soy. It may contain traces of coconut and walnuts.
Trader Joe’s Mini Sheet Cakes are sold in Chantilly Cream Vanilla Bean and Dark Chocolate Ganache flavors. Both are excellent, and you’d have a hard time finding cakes of a similar quality and flavor anywhere else. The vanilla cake has an especially unique and delicious frosting, but the chocolate is great, too. Highly recommended.