Friday, December 14, 2007

Trader Joe’s Designer Chocolates

Trader Joe's Designer ChocolatesThe Trader Joe’s Designer Chocolates come in a lovely red, matte pinstripe box with a little clear cellophane window to view the sassy morsels.

The box heralds that there are “Six Stylish Varieties” and that they’re “Imported from Belgium.” While I like my chocolates to be attractive (and perhaps even stylish), I’m much more interested in them tasting good. The back of the little sleeve goes on to say, “Our hand-decorated chocolates are crafted by a European chocolatier who was among the first to create designs directly on the chocolate’s surface. Our collection contains six distinctive styles with exotic fillings such as Grand Arabica and Cardamom & Orange.”

Trader Joe's Designer ChocolatesLike most of the other chocolates at Trader Joe’s, these are nestled in a plastic tray with no fluted cups for the candies. While the tray does a great job of protecting each piece, it does make it a little harder to just pluck the pieces out and put them on a plate for serving. I guess we’re supposed to bring the whole box to the table or something.

The inside of the lid provides the key for the chocolates. The varieties include: Cardamom & Orange, English Toffee, Winter Spice, Grand Arabica, Yucatan and Double Hazelnut. While half of them feature a dark chocolate coating, all have a milk chocolate center of some sort. This was not communicated on the exterior of the package, so I was a bit disappointed. However, the pieces are a generous “two bite” size. Not too big so that you can’t have a nice variety to taste and not too small that you don’t get a good burst of the flavors.

Trader Joe's Designer Chocolates

  • Cardamom & Orange (Milk Chocolate) - this was by far the flavor combo that made me purchase this box. The orange is very strong and the cardamom makes a good show as well. It’s sweet and milky but I really enjoyed it. My biggest problem was that the flavor infected the rest of the box. So I took out the remaining piece and let the rest of them sit without it in the box for several days before continuing my tasting. All still had the orange note to it, but I’m going to ignore that in the rest of the review.
  • English Toffee (Milk Chocolate) - I thought this might be actual toffee or caramel of some sort. Instead it’s a milk chocolate center with a toffee-flavored center. They could have told me it was rum flavored and I would have believed that, too.
  • Winter Spice (Milk Chocolate) - this is the milk one that has the little dark “leaves” on it. The spices are gentle, a little dash of cinnamon and maybe some extra vanilla. I’m not sure why they couldn’t just call it cinnamon. It’s sweet and pleasant.
  • Grand Arabica (Dark Chocolate) - this one had a slight grain to the center, it was a little bit like a hazelnut praline but with a strong coffee component (the crunches turn out to be coffee beans). It was tasty.
  • Yucatan (Dark Chocolate) - this one is billed as milk chocolate, hazelnut and cacao nibs. I really wished the center was darker. The nibs gave it a little extra boost of chocolate though the hazelnut flavors were a little lost. The nibs weren’t big, just a little bit of a light grain.
  • Double Hazelnut (Dark Chocolate) - this was the surprising winner of the box. I was dubious when it said double hazelnut, but the center has a lovely caramelized hazelnut crunch along with a milk chocolate hazelnut paste filling. Smooth and melty, wonderfully nutty and complemented by the dark chocolate enrobing.
  • I’ve always preferred enrobed or dipped chocolates to molded ones, so these win on that mark. The flavors aren’t as adventurous as some others that look similar and they’re not really that distinctively different from each other. I’d love to have some darker experiences (or at least know that it wasn’t to be).

    The packaging is by far the most appealing at Trader Joe’s as well. Just slip off the little sleeve and it’s a sassy looking presentation box. As far as value goes, at $6 for 7 ounces ($13.59 per pound), this is nice stuff with real ingredients. If you know you’re never going to be able to afford the stuff at thrice the price (well, more but saying quintuple doesn’t rhyme) such as MarieBelle, Recchiuti or Richart, this is fun “pretend” chocolates to simply enjoy but not necessarily savor. They definitely come in on the winner side of hostess gifts.

    Related Candies

    1. Trader Joe’s Espresso Chocolate
    2. Pierre Marcolini Chocolates
    3. Head to Head: Target vs Trader Joe’s
    4. Cha-Cha-Cha Choxie
    5. Boule Chocolates and Fruit Pate
    Name: Designer Chocolates
    • 10 SUPERB
    • 9 YUMMY
    • 8 TASTY
    • 7 WORTH IT
    • 6 TEMPTING
    • 5 PLEASANT
    • 4 BENIGN
    • 1 INEDIBLE
    Brand: Trader Joe's
    Place Purchased: Trader Joe's (Silverlake)
    Price: $5.99
    Size: 7.05 ounces
    Calories per ounce: 148
    Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, Nuts, Belgium, Trader Joe's, Christmas

    POSTED BY Cybele AT 7:53 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

    1. is “sassy” your favorite word? you use it an awful lot.

      Comment by jeon ji hyun on 12/14/07 at 8:32 am #
    2. awwww. look at the cute little designs.

      Comment by Shannon on 12/14/07 at 11:38 am #
    3. I looove this box. They only sell these for the holidays. I purchased them last year in a totally different packaging, an oddly long box where they all where packaged side-by-side. They were marketed with an emphasis on the spices they carry. My fav is the cinnamon. I could recognize them as soon as they came out this year in spite of the different packaging. I bought 10 boxes at once. I only gave out 2 and have half of one left!!!

      Comment by flavia on 12/14/07 at 12:07 pm #
    4. If you say “sassy” one more time, I’m gonna go crazy. But that’s okay, because I love your website!!

      Comment by Nikki on 12/17/07 at 2:00 pm #
    5. Cybele's avatar

      An exhaustive examination of the archives reveals 49 separate things declared sassy. That does seem excessive. (182 creamy, 143 bitter and 16 cloying for comparison.)

      Comment by Cybele on 12/17/07 at 4:51 pm #
    6. You do say creamy and bitter a lot, but those are very common words for chocolate and easily assossiated—what good truffle ISN’T creamy, and how often is dark chocolate NOT bitter?—while a word like sassy is…a bit jarring.

      However, I received both this and “The Art of Chocolate” as presents.  I haven’t opened the Art one, but I tried the cardamom and orange (having decided to take your advice and separate them from the rest.)  I admit I’m pleased when you comment (as you do a lot) that you’d like a little more dark (or a little more nuts, but that’s different) as I’m fond of a creamy and rich experience rather than a bitter, smoky one (more simply, I prefer good milk chocolate to good dark, unless it’s from Europe.  Or See’s.)

      Comment by Sophia Babai on 12/21/07 at 3:04 pm #
    7. On a separate note, I find these a lot more than two-bite, but my bites are rather small.  And I tend to chew and swallow, rather than melt.  I know, I have no sense of enjoying the fine.

      Comment by Sophia (Again) on 12/21/07 at 3:06 pm #
    8. I know this is an old post ( I’m going through the archives in order cause I’m a nerd like that ) but I really hope you don’t stop using sassy in the future, I love that word

      Comment by joni on 7/08/10 at 1:07 pm #
    Commenting is not available in this channel entry.

    Next entry: Trader Joe’s Peppermint Bark White Chocolate Bar

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