Archive for the 'Trader Joe’s' Category

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Toffee with Walnuts and Pecans

May 4th, 2012 by Rosa

Today I’m reviewing a second Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar on the heels of Wednesday’s review (that I briefly accidentally posted on Tuesday; oops!). This time, it’s toffee with walnuts and pecans. Here’s its epic description from the back of the box:

“The beauty of caramelized sugar reveals itself in flying colors when mixed with butter and artisinal sea salt to create rich toffee. Add walnuts and pecans to that toffee, then pair it all with our sophisticated deep, dark chocolate…”

This solid bar was scored into 8 rectangles. Mine had slightly bloomed, but I didn’t notice any detriment to its flavor or texture.

It had a sharp snap that revealed bits of toffee and nuts along the break. The roasted nuts and cleanly cleaving toffee added a pleasant, dry crunch that made me want to chomp this bar rather than let it melt.

The nuttiness of this bar was immediately noticeable. Walnut’s mild, acrid nuttiness and pecan’s darker nutty tinge were both present, and the whole thing finished on a strongly salty note.

The toffee added a light sweetness. Though I didn’t get any caramel complexity, the sweetness played off the salty and nutty quite well. It would’ve been nice to get more scorchiness, but it served its role just fine as is.

I’ll call this bar a win for Trader Joe’s. Though I thought it was a tad too salty at the finish, I enjoyed the toffee and loved the strength of flavor of the nuts. An OM.

 

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar – Caramel with Black Sea Salt

May 2nd, 2012 by Rosa

This Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Bar comes with fun old-timey art on the front and a lengthy narrative on the back of the box. Ready?

“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.”

It seems like Trader Joe’s was trying to emulate a classier/more expensive chocolate bar with this one. The Vosges Black Salt Caramel Bar (black Hawaiian sea salt, burnt sugar caramel, 70% dark chocolate), perhaps?

It succeeded on emulating Vosges in one annoying sense: this bar was incredibly messy. I didn’t get a shot of the whole bar because it was all crushed and sticky and oozing when I unwrapped it.

The dark chocolate shell was segmented into squares, but it was so thin that it broke anywhere that it pleased, releasing its amber liquid caramel all over the place. It did, at least, have with a nice snap and crunch when chewed.

I thought the flavor of the 70% dark chocolate was a bit one-dimensional and muddy in its finish. The caramel was so intensely sweet that it was almost sour. Alas, I found it to have no burnt complexity, though the salty finish was quite nice.

When eaten altogether, the combination of sweet, sour, and salty was nice enough, but I found that it lacked oomph. It just felt flat.

Part of me wonders if it is just a rebranded version of the Vosges Black Salt Caramel. I’m 90% sure it’s not – the Trader Joe’s chocolate didn’t have a nice melt or duskiness – but I could just be falling prey to marketing and cost cues of quality and enjoyableness.

At any rate, I’d give this an O. Nice try but something’s missing here.

Category: caramel, chocolate, O, review, Trader Joe's | 6 Comments »

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffee

March 9th, 2012 by Rosa

These Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Almond Toffees are packaged and priced like their Tahitian Vanilla Caramels. I somehow missed them when I bought the caramels, but I nabbed them for a taste test on a recent visit.

The bag called them “crunchy toffee and roasted California almonds, covered with premium dark chocolate.” They were shiny panned chocolate spheres with a toffee/brittle center.

The dark chocolate shell was on the thick side and had a great semisweet flavor. Its melt was thick and smooth, and the chocolate itself was lightly sweet with a dusky finish.

The toffee center had a light crunch with a clean break. It was studded with small bits of nutty almonds.

Alone, that toffee center had a strong saltiness that overwhelmed its buttery nuttiness. With the chocolate, however, that saltiness became a great foil for the sweetness of the chocolate.

The chocolate and toffee were both of high quality and went well together, making these a greatly poppable mix of textures and flavors. An OM.

Category: chocolate, nuts, OM, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate filled with Chocolate Buttercream

March 7th, 2012 by Rosa

Here’s my second (and final. ARG!) review of the Trader Joe’s Belgian chocolate bars, the Dark Chocolate {filled with} Chocolate Buttercream. As with Monday’s review of the milk chocolate and caramel bar, we shall now dispense with the silly {}s.

This bar was also comprised of six attached, filled segments. The dark chocolate was nicely tempered, making for a beautifully shiny bar.

That dark chocolate had a smooth, thick melt and lovely flavors. The cocoa depth was just wonderful and complex with a light sweetness and a hit of berry fruitiness.

For me, that dark chocolate was the highlight of the treat. If I knew who made it, I’d buy it for snacking on its own.

The center buttercream had an unexpectedly unusual texture. It was creamy with a light sugar graininess, but it was also thick and sticky with a cool melt.

Goop is a good descriptor, though I bet that doesn’t move as many bars off the shelf. It also occupied a weird state of matter, as it held its shape on its own but was also quite malleable.

That goop tasted like nicely dark chocolate frosting. It too, had an admirable depth of flavor, though it paled in comparison to the wonderful pure dark chocolate that it came in.

I liked this bar more than its caramel counterpart, though not enough to give it a boost in the ratings. If I had to choose just one to buy, I’d pick this one. An OM.

Category: chocolate, OM, review, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate filled with Caramel

March 5th, 2012 by Rosa

Trader Joe’s recently introduced a new line of Belgian chocolate bars {filled with} stuff. They made a big splash on my radar because one of them was {filled with} speculoos cookie spread, which is SO MUCH NOMS!, and my Trader Joe’s didn’t carry them and probably never will.

Instead, it carried the other two, caramel and chocolate buttercream. I’ll review the caramel today and save the chocolate buttercream for Wednesday.

I think the full name of this bar is Les Chocolats de Belgique Trader Joe’s Milk Chocolate {filled with} Caramel. Why yes, those {} are rather silly. I shall now ignore them.

The chocolate bar was six conjoined segments of caramel-filled milk chocolate. There were a few tiny bubbles in the chocolate, but otherwise the surface looked smooth and matte.

The milk chocolate was solid enough to bite into with a slight snap, and it had a thick and tongue-coating melt. The chocolate alone was quite caramelly with  a dairy creaminess.

The center caramel was positively limpid. It was far too liquid to chew and just melted away on the tongue, leaving behind notes of scorched butter and sweet brown sugar.

One segment of this was delicious, so I broke off a second segment. To corroborate my tasting notes, of course.

The second segment took the sweetness level over the top. What was nice took on a sour, throat-burning tinge.

This is a bar to be savored one segment at a time. An OM if you can stop at just one chunk.

Category: caramel, chocolate, OM, review, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Soft Peanut Brittle

February 29th, 2012 by Rosa

Happy Leap Day! If you cry, Leap Day William might bring you some candy…

This bag of Soft Peanut Brittle was yet another Trader Joe’s impulse buy for me. I think its proper name is Trader Joe’s Soft Peanut Brittle Covered in Milk Chocolate.

The bag deemed it a “flaky, crispy peanutty treat.” It came in a stand-up pouch with 8 oz of treats inside.

The actual bits weren’t nearly as pretty as they looked on the package. The package depicted milk chocolate covered rectangles striped with contrasting dark chocolate.

In reality, my domino-sized brittles came out of the bag rather scuffed. The stripes and coating looked to be the same shade of semisweet chocolate brown to me.

The center brittle was a mix of pale golden brown and white. It snapped cleanly and sharply when bitten into.

I think the center was mostly sugar was small bits of peanut inside. It shattered into thin flakes stacked on top of each other. After chewing, the brittle got embedded in my molars.

The flavor started with a mild sugary sweetness before being taken over by a strong peanutiness. That nutty flavor was heavy with the thickness of peanut butter. It finished with a flash of saltiness that set everything off quite nicely.

The chocolate was mostly overshadowed by the sweet brittle center. It added just a bit of cocoa duskiness.

These were a touch too sweet for my taste, and a few pieces were too heavy on the salt. I also wished for some more burnt sugar complexity to the brittle, but I found them enjoyable enough nonetheless.

I think they’d  be great with ice cream, as the back of the bag suggests. An O.

Category: chocolate, nuts, O, review, toffee, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Squares

February 27th, 2012 by Rosa

When I was checking out, my Trader Joe’s cashier commented on this tub of their Dark Chocolate Rocky Road Squares. She said it was one of her favorites.

The tub contained 9.5 ounces of square tiles of dark chocolate studded “with marshmallows and peanuts.” The squares were irregularly sized, with some more rectangular than square.

The peanut pieces were yellow and most were no bigger than a quarter peanut. The white marshmallow bits were similarly sized and looked more like crisped rice to me.

The chocolate had a thick snap and a non-smooth melt. It was on the sweet side for dark chocolate with a dusky, sweet finish.

The peanuts brought a mild nuttiness, while the marshmallows added a hint of sweetness and a light grainy crunch. Again, they were basically like rice crisps rather than marshmallow.

I thought these were okay, but they’re far from my favorite thing that Trader Joe’s makes, and I won’t buy them again. The add-ins were too mild to make much of a flavor difference and got lost in the mix. An O.

Category: chocolate, marshmallow, nuts, O, review, Trader Joe's | Comments Off

Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Covered Powerberries

February 15th, 2012 by Rosa

After I reviewed Brookside‘s Dark Chocolate Goji with Raspberry, Joanne noted that Trader Joe’s had a candy called Powerberries that was similar. I saw a bag on my latest Trader Joe’s trip and picked it up to see how they compared.

The Powerberries looked similar enough to the Brookside’s from the outside – same stand-up pouch packaging, similar product images, and the same boast of being a “natural source of flavanol antioxidants”.

It was enough to make me wonder if they were made by the same manufacturer (Trader Joe’s does a lot of repackaging).

Once I opened the package, however, I noticed a few differences. Though both products were shiny panned chocolate shells around jelly discs, the Powerberries were irregularly sized.

While the Brookside Goji pieces nearly all contained two back to back discs as a center sphere, the Powerberries contained between one and three discs (though most also contained two).

In general, the chocolate layer on the Powerberries was thicker than that on the Brookside, though there was some interpiece variability in both bags. That chocolate had a nice deep cocoa duskiness to it with a little thickness and graininess to the melt.

The discs felt grainy against my tongue. They had an instant jelly give with no chewiness and tasted of strawberry preserves with a deeper blueberry finish.

I enjoyed these, but I preferred the Brookside Goji version. Those were brighter and tarter and really let the juice centers sing.

The fruit juice centers of the Powerberries were nice, but they didn’t pop as much, mostly because they had thicker layers of chocolate to fight against.

The Trader Joe’s Powerberries were $3.49 for 8 oz, while the Brookside Goji chocolates were $3.99 for 7 oz at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. At that slight price differential, I’d go with the Brookside Goji. Still, I enjoyed the Trader Joe’s, so they get an OM on their own merits.

Cybele and Sera have also reviewed these. Cybele and one of her commenters say that they’re the same as Brookside Acai with Blueberry. My guess is that Brookside sells the uniformly sized ones under their own brand, while Trader Joe’s gets the more erratically sized ones to sell.

Category: chocolate, gummi/gummy, jelly candy, OM, review, Trader Joe's | 11 Comments »

Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels

January 20th, 2012 by Rosa

These Trader Joe’s Fleur de Sel Caramels were an expensive (I think ~$7?) impulse candy buy from my last Trader Joe’s run. They came in a round plywood tub with a lid, sort of like a hatbox.

The tub described them as “buttery, soft chewy caramels with imported French sea salt.” It had two sealed pouches of individually cellophane-wrapped caramels.

Be prepared for some serious teeth picking if you decide to chew these up. They’re incredibly sticky and impossible to eat in polite company.

When held on my tongue, they were buttery and smooth, though constant vigilance was still required to keep them from adhering to the backs of my teeth. When eaten this way, they left a greasy feeling on my lips.

They tasted lightly sweet and mostly of butter with a hint of butterscotch flavor. There was a slightly salty hit at the end that brought just the tiniest edge of sourness.

For me, they were too one-dimensional and way too sticky/chewy. The salt just wasn’t pronounced enough, and I wish the caramel was deeper and more complex.

They were a fine treat, but there are better caramels out there. An O. Cybele liked them more than I did, so your mileage may vary.

 

Category: caramel, O, review, Trader Joe's | 1 Comment »

Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans

December 12th, 2011 by Rosa

For me, Trader Joe’s is a mecca for impulse shopping. These Brandy Beans, or “brandy filled chocolates”,  were the result of my most recent pilgrimage.

The back of the box had the following wordy description: “From master confectioners in Germany, we bring you an aristocratic treat with a bourgeois bent. Here’s a candy that’s sure to delight both chocolate and brandy connoisseurs alike. Our Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans are a harmonious pairing of creamy bittersweet chocolate and the soothing warmth of brandy. Serve slightly chilled for maximum enjoyment.

While I was intrigued by the mix of brandy and chocolate, I somehow doubt that true brandy connoisseurs would be happy with the booze inside these beans. The booze is real, by the way; you have to be of age to buy it.

The long, slim rectangle of a box contained 24 bean-shaped chocolates. Each was about the size of the first two joints of my index finger.

The beans contained a lightly amber colored ooze of booze. I tried them at room temperature, so the smooth liquid was pretty flowy, only slightly more viscous than water.

The chocolate shell had a thick base and thin upper shell. It was slightly grainy when first bitten into, but its melt thickened if I held it on my tongue.

I thought it rather sweet for dark chocolate, but perhaps that was to counter the alcoholic’s slight bitterness. Beyond that, it was hard to get a feel for its flavor profile through the brandy.

That brandy packed a solid hit of alcoholic flavor and feel, but it lacked the throat searing burn of true brandy. Definitely the easiest I’ve ever had brandy go down.

This was a solid cut above the generic bottle-shaped chocolates filled with liquor that have been my previous experience with booze and chocolate, mostly due to the palatable quality of the chocolate and brandy.

While neither would be exceptional in its own category, they stand out from the pack in combination. That being said, I think I prefer my chocolate and brandy in isolation (or sidecars, for the latter). I enjoyed this for the novelty factor, but I wouldn’t buy them again. An O.

 

Category: chocolate, O, review, Trader Joe's | 1 Comment »