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

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.