Friday, December 21, 2007

Sjaak’s Vegan Chocolate Assortment

Sjaak's Organic & Vegan Chocolate AssortmentThere’s hardly anyone who can argue politically with the qualifications of Sjaak’s Organic Chocolate Assortment. It’s organic, it’s fair trade certified and even vegan! (For locovores, it’s also made in California.)

I first visited Sjaak’s chocolate shop when I lived in Eureka, CA back when I was in college. (I didn’t frequent the shop since I worked for a rival shop down the street.) My brother even lived in an apartment above the shop for some years and ended up becoming a friend of the family.

Flash forward eighteen years and now I see what I thought was just a little local chocolatier at the Fancy Food Show ... and then at Whole Foods!

Sjaak's Vegan Chocolate Assortment

The packaging isn’t the most exciting part about these chocolates, it’s an ordinary green box with gold lettering and a little window so you can peek at half of the chocolates. Inside is a gold plastic tray with each of the candies in its own fluted paper cup. Out of the box they’re quite attractive.

The key on the back reveals what each is. In my assortment I had: Coffee Truffle, Almond Creme, Raspberry Truffle, Pecan Caramel, English Toffee, Solid Dark Chocolate, Almond Truffle, Hazelnut Creme and Peanut Caramel. Instead of dairy fats Sjaak’s opts for soy milk, palm oil and sunflower oil.

I shared this box with Bronwen, my local vegan taster, so she may pipe up down in the comments with her thoughts.

Solid Dark Chocolate - I thought this was a good place to start. Most good dark chocolate is vegan, so this is a no brainer. There were two little medallions molded with a daisy on the front and wrapped in foil. The chocolate is rather sweet and not terribly rich and dark. If you’re a milk chocolate fan, this is probably a good place to start with dark.

Peanut Caramel - I was curious what a caramel would be without butter and milk and while this didn’t have that buttery smooth taste, it was very nice. It reminded me of a good quality Goldenberg’s Peanut Chew (which also has no butter in it). The peanuts and the dark chew of the caramelized sugar and the sweet chocolate went well together. It was kind of a charcoal note to the roasted peanuts, but that brought a richness to it, almost like coffee.

English Toffee - I thought this would be an actual hard toffee, instead it was a truffle creme with little caramelized sugar bits in it. It was an enjoyable texture combination, like many of the pralines that I’ve had lately. The creme of the center was a little thin feeling on the tongue, mostly because there’s nothing like butterfat for a rich taste (mmmm, cholesterol).

Pecan Caramel - pretty much a pecan version of the Peanut Caramel, this was pretty darn good. I could eat a whole box of these. The lack of butter was more than made up for with the woodsy pecan flavors and crunch.

Almond Truffle - this was the first truffle I tried. The powdered sugar coating kind of put me off, as I thought it started the whole thing off very sweet. The truffle center is very smooth, but again, it feels thin and watery when it melts, it’s just missing some deep complexity that the dairy brings to the combination.

Coffee Truffle - the stronger flavors and the cocoa dusting made this a darker and richer tasting truffle. The center was smooth and melted quickly, thus giving up the coffee notes very quickly but dissipating. I could have used a stronger coffee kick or a dark chocolate.

It’s really nice to see someone trying to get all the elements into their chocolate line. The box was fresh and each piece looked great. They were also very generous pieces, oddly enough, one of the better values at Whole Foods when it comes to their politically correct candies ($41.25 a pound). If you’re lactose intolerant but enjoy fine chocolates, this might be the best option out there (though beware, the box warns that they do share equipment that processes dairy so it’s not for those with severe allergies). I think I’d still opt for butterier cousins, so I’ll have to give their regular line another try here sometime.

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Chocolate Truffles
  2. Pure Fun & Yummy Earth Organic Hard Candies
  3. Theo Confections
  4. Rice Milk Chocolate Bars
  5. Equal Exchange Chocolate
Name: Sjaak's Organic & Vegan Chocolate Assortment
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Sjaak's
Place Purchased: Whole Foods (Pasadena)
Price: $11.99
Size: 4.65 ounces
Calories per ounce: 151
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Peanut, Chew, United States, All Natural, Organic, Fair Trade, Chocolatier

POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:05 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. This is me piping.  These chocolates indeed tasted vegan.  They’re probably not satisfying enough for carnivores, but I enjoyed these moderately.  They would definitely make a thoughtful present for either a vegan or someone who’s lactose-intolerant, etc.

    I do not have Cybele’s sophisticated palate, so unfortunately, I’m really insufficient at describing what I tasted.  I could not tell the difference between the almond creme & hazlenut creme pieces, both were just mildly nutty.  The raspberry truffle was pleasant; the raspberry was not overpowering.

    Comment by Bronwen on 12/21/07 at 9:02 am #
  2. I could imagine it wouldn’t tastes very good for carnivores..
    They look very nice. The pecan and peanut caramel sounds very nice too.

    Comment by Leigh on 12/21/07 at 10:20 am #
  3. How about us omnivores? No love for us?

    Comment by Russ on 12/21/07 at 10:58 am #
  4. Omnivores I suspect would be fine, but my cat has no interest in chocolate at all.

    Comment by Leigh on 12/21/07 at 11:25 am #
  5. Leigh, the cat might not get it, but I can assure you that my dog aggressively seeks out chocolate, in spite of its toxic nature to pets.

    Comment by Dave on 12/23/07 at 12:21 am #
  6. Did you work at Partrick’s? I love their caramel covered chocolates, they’re my absolute favorite.

    Comment by Muriel Mercurial on 2/15/09 at 8:02 pm #
  7. Searched Sjaak’s on your site because last night I just ate the non-vegan organic assortment from Sjaak’s and was so impressed! Hope someday you try their other chocolates and compare to the vegan variety. The crunchy peanut butter was especially fantastic

    Comment by Christine on 3/11/10 at 9:12 am #

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