Thursday, December 13, 2007

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels

imageLast year Trader Joe’s had a standout product called Fleur de Sel Caramels (they’re back for 2007 as well). Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels seem to be capitalizing on the trend of the salted caramel and throwing in dark chocolate for kicks.

It’s obviously a seasonal item as well, with little string/line drawings of pine trees and the green theme. The package says, “buttery smooth caramels drenched in Belgian chocolate then sprinkled with crunchy rock salt from the Dead Sea.” Wow, Belgium ... the Dead Sea ... and they’re made in Ireland. I feel so worldly.


This is one of those instances where the product looks pretty much like the photo on the package, so no disappointment there. Although out of the box they had a little dusting of microfine salt dust. (A little paintbrush took care of that for the photoshoot.) They smell nice, like chocolate and a little hint of butter.

The box has a plastic tray with a dozen little chocolate covered caramels. They fit snugly, so there were no problems with dented or broken pieces, though there were a few salt chunks rattling around.

Biting into them they have a light flowing caramel filling. It’s not glossy smooth like advertised though. There’s a very slight grain to it, but it’s completely consistent. (I wonder if this is because the boxes are displayed above the frozen food and the package specifically says “do not refrigerate”.)

There’s something a little off about the buttery-ness of them though. It’s too buttery. In fact, it’s butter flavored. Looking at the ingredients I found that way down at the end was something called “natural butter toffee flavoring”. It’s not that there isn’t butter in there. There’s lots of butter fat and milk and sweetened condensed milk. But for some reason they felt the need to give it that extra little push. It’s still all natural, but unnecessary. The crunchy bits of salt were a nice touch, not too much and a good texture complement.

Personally, I prefer the thicker, chewier texture of caramel that also has more complex burnt sugar flavors. (Remember the recent poll?) I think I’d like those other Fleur de Sel Caramels covered in chocolate. They were gorgeous.

Related Candies

  1. Dove Caramels & Chocolate Covered Almonds
  2. Das French Salted Caramels
  3. Sanders Caramels & Titans
  4. Fran’s Gray Salt Caramels
Name: Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramels
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Trader Joe's
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silverlake)
Price: $4.99
Size: 6.3 ounces
Calories per ounce: 139
Categories: Chocolate, Caramel, Trader Joe's, All Natural, Christmas

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:57 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Ah—I have a box of these waiting to be tried.  Sorry to hear that they weren’t as good as they could have been.  The Vosges Exotic Caramels that I just tried were incredible (and chewy) so I’m afraid that these really won’t live up.

    Comment by Julie on 12/13/07 at 7:05 am #
  2. Those sound so good in principle.  I may try them in spite of the imperfect review.  Maybe I’ll like them better.

    Comment by Dave on 12/13/07 at 2:59 pm #
  3. I bought these off of Nicole’s very positive review and I enjoyed them quite a bit as long as I paired each bite of the caramel with a bite of the salt rolling around the trays.  Anyway, I would buy them again….

    Comment by Heidi on 12/14/07 at 6:13 am #
  4. Ooh, I LOVE these things!  I also love the fleur de sel ones, and was hoping that the insides of these would be chewy like those, but still, I find them terribly good.

    Comment by Hilary on 12/17/07 at 8:35 am #
  5. I’ve now been to 5 different Trader Joe’s (in two states) and have not yet found the sea salt caramels of yesteryear. Sigh.

    Comment by Abi on 12/17/07 at 10:48 am #
  6. Of course, I went to Trader Joe’s last night and there were 80 boxes of the non-chocolate salted caramels. I got one. They are fabulous. In fact, I’m thinking about buying a bunch of them, chopping them in half, then drizzling them with dark chocolate and passing them off as my own homemade candies.

    Comment by Abi on 12/19/07 at 6:22 pm #
  7. i like them a lot

    Comment by haydn on 12/28/07 at 10:53 am #
  8. Sorry, Reviewer person, I adore dark chocolate, and these really good chocolate, buttery caramel and gooey- but not too, and not chewy for caramels, with the perfect sprinkle of sea salt, were out of this world Fantastic!!! In fact we are now looking for more and will buy as many as we can to get through to next holiday season. This was the surprise of the year for me…they are unbelievably yummy!!!

    Comment by Dark Chocolate lover on 1/05/08 at 3:46 pm #
  9. I love these and wonder if anyone knows their origin in Ireland or where we can buy them now.

    Comment by Ruth on 1/26/08 at 9:20 am #
  10. Cybele's avatar

    Ruth - I have a sneaking suspicion that these are made by Lily O’Brien, but I can’t seem to find this exact product on their website. (But Lily O’Brien does make a “truffle cup” that’s a dead ring for some other TJ sweets sold over the holidays.

    Comment by Cybele on 1/26/08 at 12:08 pm #
  11. Cybele,
    yes, I saw the truffle cups.

    The sea salt caramels are closer to Fran’s (Seattle) and way less expensive….
    If I had only known…I would have bought many more packages before Christmas! smile

    Comment by Ruth on 1/26/08 at 6:43 pm #
  12. I think Fran’s is above and beyond TJ’s. The ingredients in Fran’s are the real deal: you won’t see things such as “natural butter flavoring” in her products. The fact that TJ’s uses milk instead of cream is also going to make the caramels softer and less rich - I guess they use more butter to compensate? In regards to the chewiness, I prefer a compromise of slightly chewy, yet soft enough to melt in your mouth. Mmmmm.

    Comment by Katherine Duncan on 2/20/08 at 3:58 am #
  13. I agree that Fran’s are better…....they are also more than twice as expensive…........$11+ for 7 fairly small pieces…..

    Comment by Ruth on 2/20/08 at 7:28 pm #
  14. I’m the kind of person that when I eat caramel, I want if to be worth it, so why eat anything that I don’t really love? In terms of gifts, there are probably better, local options in the same price range. Have a caramel tasting party in your area, and see what you can find!

    Comment by katherine on 2/21/08 at 2:02 am #
  15. I’m trying to make my own…..
    Otherwise, I’ll wait until Christmas for TJ’s…and hope someone will gift me with Fran’s…....

    Comment by Ruth on 2/21/08 at 1:23 pm #
  16. These are my FAVORITE! I was just searching online to see if there was anywhere I could buy a similar pack besides Trader Joe’s. They have them again this year (2008), but they are now $6.99 instead of $4.99, which makes it an expensive habit, especially around the holidays. grin

    Comment by emily on 11/08/08 at 8:45 am #
  17. I love these carmels!!!  At first was a little surprised by the gooey carmel then it all just melt in my mouth and was wonderful! I wish I could find them somewhere! Has anyone found them yet out of season?

    Comment by Juliet Price on 2/01/09 at 8:07 am #
  18. I tried these this year and they are amazing.  Beyond what I expected.  I did find that the crunchy salt pieces tend to fall off before hitting your mouth though.

    Comment by mitch on 3/05/09 at 12:38 pm #
  19. Christmas is over. It is March. Now where can I buy these? Do I have to wait until Christmas? Joy

    Comment by Joy Hall on 3/12/09 at 4:40 pm #
  20. received my salt sprinkled chocolates as a gift

    now Im addicted.  Where can I buy them?

    I will go anywhere in Toronto or surrounding areas

    My gift was purchased at Loblaws super store in Ajax Ontario

    Comment by joyce cahill on 7/30/09 at 10:15 am #
  21. Heavenly… I do not typically like carmels *because* they are chewing and stick in my teeth. So I found these to be a delightful surprise of creamy melt-in-your-mouth carmel! And paired with the dark chocolate and salt. What could be better??

    Comment by Julie on 12/13/09 at 9:23 am #
  22. I’m a new addict; they taste great (Lots of calories though (3 equals 220 cal.).

    Comment by CatGunHome on 1/28/10 at 11:15 am #

    Comment by SUZANNE MANN MOORE on 3/15/10 at 8:54 am #
  24. Oh my goodness….we went to a birthday party and the hostess brought out a box of these, WOW they are soooo delicious, I can’t wait to go to Trader Joe’s and get a box to have at our house for the holidays. The dark chocolate is to die for, and the carmel is wonderful (as regular carmel sticks to my teeth) and the salt is just a special treat. Wonderful!

    Comment by Gail MacInnes on 12/01/10 at 7:56 am #
  25. These are no doubt a 10 and the reason I am here. I’m trying to find a substitute for these as TJ’s only has them around the holidays.

    And I think the flavor you are tasting is from the Palm Oil, not the butter flavor. It’s why these taste so much like Samoas.

    10 out of 10!

    Comment by Mystic on 1/15/12 at 5:31 pm #
  26. I tried Fran’s and they do not hold a candle to Oh! Chocolate’s dark choc fleur de sel caramels (four locations, can order online, also really good are Goody’s Chocolate’s dark choc salted caramels (Oregon, can also order online,

    Comment by Sindhi on 11/04/12 at 10:48 pm #
  27. I thought that these were so DELICIOUS!!  I could have eaten the whole box at once! I was expecting wrapped caramel pieces and was pleasantly surprised to see little candies with a caramel center.  The dark chocolate is wonderful and the caramel spills out when you bite into it.  The salt on top was different and set the candy apart from any other candies!  These are my new favorites!

    Comment by Beverly Stewart on 2/18/15 at 8:53 pm #
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

Next entry: Trader Joe’s Peppermint Marshmallows

Previous entry: Trader Joe’s Fair Trade Chocolate Truffles
















  • .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
  • Here are some frequently asked questions emailed to me you might want to read first.


    For a daily update of Candy Blog reviews, enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner






Meticulously photographed and documented reviews of candy from around the world. And the occasional other sweet adventures. Open your mouth, expand your mind.





Facebook IconTwitter IconTumblr IconRSS Feed IconEmail Icon


Candy Season Ends

-713 days

Read previous coverage



Which seasonal candy selection do you prefer?

Choose one or more:

  •   Halloween
  •   Christmas
  •   Valentine's Day
  •   Easter




These candies will be reviewed shortly: