Of all of Trader Joe’s spectacularly affordable, didn’t realize you desperately needed them products (we’re partial to the sleeves of rosemary-dusted marcona almonds, and freezer packs of saag paneer), their cookie butter has definitely acquired the most impassioned disciples. And why wouldn’t it—being nothing more or less than a spreadable paste of crushed speculoos—a type of thin and crunchy Belgian biscuit, made with brown butter and assorted spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and clove.
And while there’s no shortage of ways to make short work of the stuff, from a spread for toast to a filling for crepes (although, just as with Nutella, a finger will do just fine), Bunsmith in Crown Heights may just have trumped them all. Their ingenious idea? To stuff it into the Wonder Bread-esque depths of their fluffy Asian steam buns (which, FYI, also prove worthy foils for strictly savory options, like Korean fried chicken, supple pork jowl, freshwater eel and artichoke), along with rosy rectangles of gelatinous, pan-fried Spam.
It’s easy enough to wax poetic about the self-evident charms of cookie butter, but Spam has proven a lot more divisive—it takes a fair bit of doing not to be squeamish about condensed, cat food-colored meat “product,” entombed in a pop-top can. But once united, the unlikely pair achieves optimal salty-sweet balance, with the heady baking spices of speculoos providing the perfect complement for the concentrated porkiness of Spam. There’s even much more textural interest than one might think, owing to the smoky, well-caramelized crust that relieves the composite protein slab of its signature soggy wiggle, and an unbroken speculoos biscuit (also sourced from TJ’s) contributing welcome crunch and bite.
That being said, with its unrelieved layers of buff, beige and brown, Bunsmith’s spam and speculoos steam bun is a bit of a Barney—so if it’s primed to become an Instagram sensation, it will likely be for it’s caption-ready concept, rather than it’s dashing good looks.