Monday, September 26, 2011

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops & Coffee Caramels

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops - Fair Trade & OrganicWhile on vacation on the central coast earlier this month I made my regular stop at Sweet Earth Chocolates in San Luis Obispo to pick up some rations for our vacation rental.

I bought some turtles and some other items for immediate consumption and then a few items to bring back to Los Angeles for review. One item that I sampled in the store is their Fair Trade Certified & Certified Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Drops. Yup, I went on vacation and I brought back a bag of chocolate chips.

It’s 12 ounces of 65% dark chocolate with only three ingredients - organic cacao (liquor, cocoa butter & cocoa powder), organic sugar and organic vanilla.

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops - Fair Trade & Organic

I love the bag. It’s simple, the same sort of wax lined kraft paper bag with a wire-fold closure that you get fresh roasted coffee beans in. It has the same bean bag heft and satisfying crunch when squeezed.

The pieces are small, some as large as a dime but most the size of a flattened standard baking chocolate chip (2/3 of an inch). The smooth disk shape makes them easy to eat and melt in the mouth, no spiky top.

Sweet Earth Bittersweet Chocolate Drops - Fair Trade & Organic

There’s a light tangy note to the pieces upon melting with a slightly dry finish. It’s much sweeter than I would have expected for a 65% chocolate. The flavors are woodsy and smokey with notes of figs and molasses, they’re on the coffee side of the rich flavors. In fact, the package was sitting on my desk one morning and a co-worker said “Your coffee smells really good today.” I didn’t actually have any coffee, it was the open bag of chocolate that smelled like that. On another day the smell was so distracting, I had to close the package up and put it away.

I’m sure this would be great for baking, hot chocolate or pudding. But I was content to just snack away on them. It was no compromise, in the sense that these were organically grown, fair trade certified and not overpackaged. It was $9.50 for the bag, but for 12 ounces, I thought it was a pretty good deal compared to some of the chocolate bars that I buy for the same price but only get 3.5 ounces.

They’re made without soy or dairy (so they’re vegan) but are processed in a facility that has both.

Sweet Earth Chocolate Coffee CaramelsAs more of a novelty item I tried their new caramels. They’re like gourmet milk duds. I picked out the Coffee Caramel. The little quarter pound bag is very simply done. A cellophane bag sealed with a little twist tie. (They had samples in the store, I tried the orange and chili one and found it a little too spicy for me, so I opted for the coffee.)

Instead of a glossy coating of chocolate on the house-made caramel nibs, these are coated in chocolate and then rolled in cocoa. They’re lumpy and mis-shapen, some are flat and others are rustically spherical.

Sweet Earth Chocolate Coffee Caramels

The chew is smooth and sweet with some good flavors. The primary flavors are woodsy, a combination of the dark chocolate and cocoa coating plus a little note of coffee. The caramel itself is interesting, the toasted and burnt sugar flavors are missing, are are the butter notes, but still it doesn’t end up tasting like syrup. There’s a little note of cinnamon and coconut in there, but that could be my imagination.

As a gourmet Milk Dud, I was happy, though they are certainly more expensive, don’t have quite the shelf life and are kind of messy with the cocoa coating.

I will continue to visit the Sweet Earth Chocolate shops in San Luis Obispo when I’m in the area. It’s easy on and off the 101 if you’re traveling through the area. My previous review of the shop is here (with photos).

UPDATE: Sweet Earth changed the name of their company to Mama Ganache.

Related Candies

  1. Sweet Earth Chocolates
  2. Meiji Pokka Coffee Caramel
  3. Ginger Chews: Hot Coffee
  4. Javaz - Milk & Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
  5. Divine Fair Trade Chocolate
  6. Coffee Nips
  7. Sweet Earth Chocolate Cups
  8. Guittard Akoma Fair Trade Chocolate Chips

Name: 65% Bittersweet Chocolate Drops
Brand: Sweet Earth Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Earth Chocolates (San Luis Obispo)
Price: $9.50
Size: 12 ounces
Calories per ounce: 152
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Sweet Earth Chocolate, Chocolate, Ethically Sourced, 9-Yummy, United States

Name: Coffee Caramels
Brand: Sweet Earth Chocolates
Place Purchased: Sweet Earth Chocolates (San Luis Obispo)
Price: $3.00
Size: 4 ounces
Calories per ounce:
Categories: All Natural, Candy, Sweet Earth Chocolate, Chocolate, Coffee, Ethically Sourced, 7-Worth It, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 4:00 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewSweet Earth ChocolateCaramelChocolateCoffeeEthically Sourced7-Worth It9-YummyUnited States

  1. I’ve found that their caramel doesn’t quite hit all the notes I’m hoping for. It falls flat. I’ve tried several of them to be sure it wasn’t a fluke. So, the caramel is a miss for me, but I agree about the chocolate. Mmmmm.

    Comment by Mia on 9/27/11 at 8:43 am #
  2. Note from Tom, the chocolatier (does not rhyme with mouseketeer):

    The coffee caramel tastes “flat” because it is vegan.  As you noted, it has a coconut flavor; you did not imagine it.  We replaced heavy cream with coconut milk. 

    Our milk chocolate caramel nugget is made with a caramel that is heavy cream and butter based, and therefore has the traditional dairy notes.  We also make a dark chocolate-coated caramel that is filled with a traditional dairy caramel and is part of our traditional caramels assortment.

    A significant part of our customer base are vegans, so we have been making the caramel nuggets without dairy products.

    Being a caramel lover, I have, over time, gained an appreciation of the vegan version.  Now I think of the dairy version as too buttery.  Everyone has a different palate.

    As for burned sugar notes in caramel, I prefer the lighter flavor.  I also prefer Pilsners over Ales.

    Comment by Tom Neuhaus on 9/27/11 at 7:38 pm #
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