Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Trader Joe’s 70% Dark with Caramel and Black Sea Salt

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar - Caramel with Black Sea SaltTrader Joe’s is usually right on target when it jumps on a trend. They seem to know when it’s too early to hop on (and customers will be too scared) or too late (customers will be weary of over saturation). Salt and caramel, salt and chocolate and of course, the combination of all three is right up there on the trend meter. Artisans and high end chocolatiers started the international push about eight years ago, and Trader Joe’s has introduced some fine salted caramels along the way.

Today I have one of their new bars, a 70% Dark Chocolate Bar - Caramel with Black Sea Salt. The design of the box is reminiscent of the Fearless Flyer’s clip art designs with fanciful sailing ships and airships and seaweed. The package mentions that the bar is gluten free.

The package describes the bar thusly:

Exotic Hawaiian Black Sea Salt hails from the Pacific seawater that surrounds the Hawaiian islands. This stunning black salt is evaporated in above ground pools that form naturally from lava flows. Together, its smoky aroma and intense caramel complement this sophisticated dark chocolate experience. Trader Joe’s 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate Bar with Caramel with Black Sea Salt pairs well with a lei, Hawaiian shirt and grass skirt.

Inside the box the bar is sealed in a tough silver mylar package. There’s no design flair to it, but something much more practical. There’s a little stamp that says not only when the bar was made, but also the best by date. (It’s pretty rare for a product to give you both pieces of information.)

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Bar - Caramel with Black Sea Salt

I had two of these bars. The first, pictured here, I bought myself. The second was one my husband picked up, not realizing that I’d already procured one. This one was in good shape, glossy and unbroken. The color of the chocolate was a little dead - a little on the coffee ground brown side. The bottom of the bar is studded with sea salt crystals. They weren’t black, they were white and translucent. Some grains were small and well spaced, but others were clumped together or just downright large - like something you’d toss on an icy sidewalk.

The center of the bar is a gooey, near liquid caramel. It’s creamy and silky smooth with a light milky flavor with a strong salty note. The combination of salt from the dusting and the center was sometimes pretty intense. (The package says that there’s only 95 mg of salt here, but I think that’s a little off.)

The chocolate is a little bitter but strong with a fruity and woodsy note to it, kind of like smoked raisins. It’s quite decadent all together, sweet, salty, creamy and a little crunchy if you hit a salt patch.

My big complaint about this bar is the filling at times. The second bar was broken in one place, which unleashed the caramel into the package. Also, if you start the bar, you’re kind of obligated to finish it right away, because the caramel will escape within a half an hour of placing it horizontal. (I guess propping it upright might help.)

Trader Joe’s always makes a good quality product. The packaging was good, the label gave me all the info I wanted to know and the quality was excellent for the price. I don’t think this is my favorite bar, mostly because of the overly-salty spots and the mess factor.

There’s another bar in this set that I saw on the shelf, Trader Joe’s 70% Dark Chocolate - Toffee with Walnuts and Pecans - has anyone tried that as well?

Related Candies

  1. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels
  2. Equal Exchange Chocolate Caramel Crunch with Sea Salt
  3. Lindt Excellence Dark with a touch of Sea Salt
  4. Marich Chocolate Sea Salt Cashews
  5. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  6. Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels
  7. Fran’s Gray Salt Caramels

POSTED BY Cybele AT 2:38 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     All NaturalCandyReviewTrader Joe'sCaramelChocolate8-TastyUnited States

  1. A good reason to visit my TJ’s…I love the salt/caramel combo. Not sure if you’re a big ice cream person, but Ralph’s Private Selection ice cream has a salted caramel flavor that I love. Crappy chocolate in it, but the caramel ribbon with the super-creamy vanilla ice cream is fantastic.

    Comment by Claire on 6/21/11 at 2:54 pm #
  2. I have both of those bars, and I need to post reviews.  I have the same complaint about the caramel bar—so messy!  I haven’t opened the Walnut bar yet, but I hope to get to it this week.

    Comment by Julie on 6/21/11 at 3:19 pm #
  3. I know it goes against all the chocolate rules but I found chilling this bar ever so slightly in the fridge helped a bit with the oozing caramel problem.  The thing we love about this bar is it’s about two servings- something my husband and I have been enjoying sharing in the evenings with a fresh bowl of raspberries or strawberries (that kind of takes care of what to do about storing the product with oozing caramel).  We’re huge salt/chocolate/caramel fans and we think this bar is pretty much heaven.  Great to see a review of it!

    Comment by Amy G on 6/21/11 at 3:22 pm #
  4. Do you think Vosges makes this bar for TJs? I ended up buying each and the side-by-side comparison makes think they are one and the same with a minor ingredient tweek. (I don’t have the boxes handy, but they’re both 70%, both Hawaiian sea salt, and have almost the same nutritional profile.)

    Oh, and I can attest to the leakage issue. I put my last two squares into the box, turned it sideways, stuck it in the cabinet, and when I went to eat them had a caramel puddle & 2 sad empty squares of chocolate.

    Comment by Jen on 6/22/11 at 7:15 am #
  5. I have tried both bars and liked them. The caramel was a little too messy for me as I never eat a whole bar at once. The toffee, walnut, pecan bar is less salty which was disappointing…but still so tasty!! Love your blog wink

    Comment by Runner girl on 6/22/11 at 10:23 am #
  6. I bought this bar a couple weeks ago and when I opened the package, the caramel was everywhere, not something I could easily share with my sister.  We found sticking it in the freezer for a little while made the caramel not stick to the mylar and able to break into pieces.  I suggest putting the bar in the freezer before you eat it, then when you break it into pieces, the caramel doesn’t goo out and keep in freezer between servings.

    Comment by Leslie on 6/22/11 at 11:54 am #
  7. This sounds amazing! love salted caramel stuff. Packaging looks classy too. Guess it’s not avaliable in the UK?

    Comment by gobble monkey on 6/22/11 at 1:15 pm #
  8. I’m actually eating the walnut and pecan bar as I write this! The chocolate is pretty much the same as the caramel bar and is completely studded with bits of toffee and nuts. They’re quite well distributed (at least in my bar) and I like the added sweetness of the toffee and crispness of the nuts. I wouldn’t mind seeing walnuts in more chocolate bars, actually. I hope TJ’s thinks about adding a milk chocolate to this line, too.

    Comment by Nicole on 6/22/11 at 3:20 pm #
  9. Cybele,

    I just picked up this and the toffee bar for review on my own blog! This one looks tasty- I wonder if the salt amount will be different on mine? I’ll report back. smile


    Comment by Jess on 6/26/11 at 4:37 pm #
  10. This is the BEST candy bar by FAR!  Yes, its messy and yes it has clumps of salt here and there.  We make special trips to Trader Joes just for these bars.  Our TJ’s cant keep them in stock.  We buy several everytime we are there.  LOVE!!!!!

    Comment by Carolyn Robey-Warren on 9/05/11 at 9:19 am #
  11. I came here while eating this, just to see your opinion of it, LOL.  I won’t have a problem with the caramel seepage because I a 2 squares away from it being gone!!  So tasty, and half the price of the salted caramel Godiva bar…

    Comment by Amie on 10/22/11 at 8:49 pm #
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