I don’t know when my love affair with Chocolate began. I have always preferred chocolate over hard candy, unlike my brother who could eat bags of Jolly Ranchers, I always went for the Snickers bar when I could. Things are different now, you really had to go out of your way to find dark chocolate and high quality hand made chocolates, at least in the Seattle area there seems to be a good chocolatier on every street corner it seems. My earliest memories of eating high quality chocolate were on our frequent trips to Brussels from Germany when I was a senior in high school and walking around the downtown core and buying some of the best chocolates in the world! At the time, I thought I could never top that. I remember a year or two back when Trader Joe’s had those packs of chocolates from all over the world. They all tasted completely different, it was rather like doing a wine tasting!
Here in the Seattle area we are blessed with many fine chocolate makers, especially Frans and Theos so we are exposed to many great chocolate creations. I vaguely remembered when my wife first brought home a box of these sea salt caramel dark chocolates from Fran’s and I was thinking what’s up with the salt on the chocolate. The first time I tried them I that it was a goofy flavor combination and didn’t get it, but now I am really into that salty/sweet combination. It’s a delicate balance and if you don’t get it right it can be too salty and not enough salt and you just lose that great combination.
Let’s get on to the Trader Joe’s Dark Sea Salt Caramels! These have been around for a couple of years and they come and go with the Christmas season mostly. They change the packaging on them every year and I really like the box on them this year. Nice artwork and a really nice description of what you are getting.
You get 12 in a box. The chocolates are a glossy, dark color which tells you right away they are high cacao chocolate (because of the dark color, not the gloss). One troubling thing is that you see a lot of that special Dead Sea salt has fallen off the top of the chocolates off to the side. The glossy surface of them tell me they are machine made and not hand made, but I don’t really think you can expect them to be handmade for the quantity that Trader Joe’s cranks these out.
I slowly bit into one, to take a long leisurely taste because I knew the middle would be soft. The exterior shell of chocolate was rather brittle. A little harder than I expected, but I loved the rich, wine-like flavor of the dark, Belgian chocolate. The caramel in the middle was a smooth, creamy texture with a good depth of flavor. The only annoying thing about these chocolates was the salt. Some of them had too much and others not enough. It seems like they needed to work out the kinks on them and get the salt levels just right and the actual salt crystals were too big and didn’t meld well with the overall flavors. Getting one of those big salt crystals give you too much of a hit of that salty flavor.
Overall, I like these chocolates. The two drawbacks for me were the hard crunchy shell and the way the salt fell off and the size of the salt crystals. I know, I’m nitpicking, but that’s why I’m here!
I’m going to rate these Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels 7 bells!