Friday, December 29, 2006

Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels

imageHere’s another trend among cooks that’s filtered into the candy world: artisan salt. The most common place to find this in confections is in caramels. Sometimes it’s grains of sea salt sprinkled on top, sometimes it’s just a saltier caramel. It’s not like caramels didn’t always have salt in them. When I make my own caramels I usually use both salted butter and a pinch of salt because I think it brings out the caramelized flavors better.

But of course the gourmets weren’t satisfied with plain old table salt or the more upscale Kosher flake salt, now they insist on curiously-colored and super-expensive sea salt crystals from Hawaii, France or New Zealand. They like to remind us of the grand history of salt and how our word for salary comes from the same root and why that means we should pay oodles of money for dried sea water. Frankly, it all looks like the stuff that we used to throw on the sidewalk when it got icy.

All that said, I welcome the new attention to salt as a way to bring out natural flavors. And I welcome Trader Joe’s foray into the salted caramel market because it’s actually affordable. The Shaker-style box that they come in is cute. Inside the box are two plastic bags with 7 ounces of caramels each. Not really as pretty on the inside as I might have hoped for $6.99 a box (maybe a little wood shavings or excelsior?).


The caramels are beautiful. Luminous and even looking, they’re smell like butter and burnt sugar. They’re individually wrapped in neatly folded clear cellophane. They’re sizeable morsels as well, each is two bites in my estimation. They’re firm to the touch but easy to bite apart.

While some salted caramels have grains of salt sprinkled on top, these are completely incorporated (like the Charles Chocolates and unlike the Fran’s) The salt is very apparent on the tongue but the smooth chew and the buttery mouthfeel come through loud and clear.

I liked them. I’m not sure I really want to eat all 14 ounces of them (that’s what’s good about the two packets in there instead of a large single one), so I might come up with some interesting things to do with them, like making a hard sauce for bread pudding.

Name: Fleur de Sel Caramels
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Trader Jacques
Place Purchased: Trader Joe's
Price: $6.99
Size: 14 ounces
Calories per ounce: 120
Categories: Caramel, United States, Trader Joe's

POSTED BY Cybele AT 6:03 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Happy New Year, Cybele and all candy fans.

    I bought these caramels a few weeks ago and am pretty much in agreement with your review.  I periodically eat one and enjoy it, but I don’t feel compelled to eat them all, or to eat them all the time. 

    My only problem is that in one of the last ones I ate, I found a black splotch in the piece.  When I took it out, it looked an awful lot like a mouse or rat dropping.  Kinda gross.  I have since eaten one or two more (I hate waste), but I inspect them carefully and have found nothing else suspicious.  I keep meaning to tell TJs about this, but seem always to forget when I’m in the store. . .

    Anyhow, I’m going with the optimistic view that this was a one-time only problem. Although I don’t know that I will buy another box either.  I’ve found other caramels I like better anyway.

    Comment by Karen on 12/29/06 at 11:00 am #
  2. Since you brought these up we bought a box at TJ’s tonight. WOW. Definitely a “sometimes food” but well worth the cost.

    Comment by Bruce on 12/29/06 at 3:42 pm #
  3. These sounds and look really similar to the salted caramels I bought at Whole Foods.

    Comment by Sera on 12/29/06 at 5:17 pm #
  4. Those sound excellent, I mean besides the rat turd.

    Comment by Dave on 12/30/06 at 2:24 am #
  5. I love the new trend in salted caramels as I feel it definitely adds something to the caramel flavor. The first candy I remember trying with a salt emphasis is licorice. If you are a licorice lover try to get your hands on a specialty salted licorice and you will never go back to regular.

    Comment by Maurice on 1/02/07 at 7:20 am #
  6. Mouse dropping???  Ok, fine; I’m sure it’s a sign of natural ingredients or lack of chemical preservatives or Trader Joe’s eco-friendly processing or whatever…but…oh, HECK no!!  Ugh and ick.

    I got a tin of Crate and Barrel’s salted caramels for Christmas and they have large pieces of salt (like pretzels) on the top.  It’s almost a bit too salty for me.

    Comment by Lesley on 1/03/07 at 6:34 am #
  7. I’m a newbie to your blog but I love it!
    Thought I would pass along a recommendation for caramels. Bequet Confections -

    I am in love with their Chipotle Caramels! They sell at a new concept in grocery stores - Central Market.

    Comment by Katie on 1/03/07 at 7:23 am #
  8. I recently found another caramels with Fleur De Sel that I just fell in love with.  They’re called Das Caramelini: I bought a few boxes over Christmas as presents and keeping them all for myself.  They have 4 flavors: Chocolate/Walnut, Lemon, Orange and Classic w/Lavender.  All caramels are bite size and really soft and chewy: not hard.  They are also all natural and according to the company’s website are made fresh every week.  Here is their website

    Comment by Bev on 1/09/07 at 11:25 am #
  9. Cybele's avatar

    Karen - I was thinking about smashing them onto some pretzels then smashing them into some chopped pecans and dipping them in chocolate.

    Sorry to hear about the ooky object in yours ... is it possible it was just a burnt bit of caramel or something? Please?

    Bruce - here it is a week later and I’ve only eaten half of them.

    Dave - I keep forgetting if rat turds add fiber or minerals ...

    Sera - I wouldn’t be surprised if it is the same company making them behind the scenes (as I found out with the whole Choxie/Trader Joe’s thing).

    Lesley - I looked at those at C&B when I was there but at only 50% off I just wasn’t ready to take the plunge ... but maybe they’re on further sale now.

    Katie - oooh, spicy caramels, I’m more than intrigued!

    Bev - classic with Lavender sounds pretty awesome too. And not even prohibitively expensive like some others.

    Comment by Cybele on 1/09/07 at 2:02 pm #
  10. If anyone is looking for Trader Joe’s candy or any other product, please feel free to drop by my eBay store.  If you do not see what you are looking for, simply email me a request through the store link and I will be more than happy to help you.  I love Trader Joe’s and I am dedicated to spreading the love!!  Christa :D

    Comment by Christa on 2/03/07 at 11:14 pm #
  11. What is the shelf life of these caramels with salt?  does not salt take away from the water phase of the candy?

    Comment by Carmela on 5/22/08 at 6:07 am #
  12. Hi,
    How can I get the sea salt caramels that TJ sold around Christmas.

    Comment by Kenn on 4/25/09 at 8:55 am #
  13. I bought some of these and I’m not a big candy fan but loved these! was thinking they would be great melted over granny smith apples. The salty flavor has depth and goes perfect with the buttery caramel flavor. The three pieces serving size is nice also.

    Comment by Pamala on 12/08/09 at 8:01 pm #
  14. I work at TJ’s, so maybe I’m a bit partial, but I think these are the best thing the company has made in a very long time. God, they are just delicious.

    Comment by dr on 12/25/09 at 9:22 am #
  15. The very best caramels in the world are the hand made caramels from The Baking House in St. Louis, Mo.  These caramels are made the old fashion way with really great flavors and a soft and chewy texture.  One flavor of caramel is made with a local beer, Schlafly.  The caramels are then poured over a home made potatoe chip and are the perfect blend of sweet/savory/salty/crunch! You have to try them. There is also a hand made pretzel she uses in her caramels as well as local vanilla and maple bacon.  These squares of caramels are made in small batches so snatch them up quickly since they sell as fast as they are made.  They are a true gem.  You may order them thru

    Comment by Janet Ansehl Shulman on 11/17/10 at 7:57 pm #
  16. I bought some of these yesterday. They seem to be a lot cheaper now. So tasty!

    Comment by Leah Farrell on 8/28/12 at 9:50 am #
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