Saturday, March 8, 2014

Celebrate National Chocolate Caramel Day

There are many ways to celebrate any of the fun food holidays we tell you about each month.  You can make something specifically for your use or you can buy something related to the holiday or something made just for that holiday depending on how "big" of a day it is where you live.  March 19th is "National Chocolate Caramel Day" so it seems like an ideal time to test and reveal these Sjaak's Chocolate Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels.  Sjaak's Chocolates use organic ingredients and they have vegan varieties though this particular set of four does not claim to be completely dairy free.  Don't let the name or the holiday fool you: our sample had four flavors that we're now going to reveal to you all.

The box these came is is transparent so you can see the four 60% chocolate covered caramels inside.  The box has a label on the back with all of the ingredients as well as a gift giving tag tied to the front with photos of and the name of the caramels inside but if that isn't enough they are ordered to match the listing of flavors on one long side of the box.  No reason to eat a variety you don't think you'll like or which you have allergen concerns about this way.  That's both clever and useful packaging. I'm going to look at these in reverse order so we build up to what I suspect may be strongest non-chocolate flavor.

The Hazelnut Sea Salted Caramel has three raised lines of dark chocolate along with a few salt crystals on the top.  There is a salty and tangy caramel fragrance with just a hint of dark chocolate when I take a deep whiff of it.  Taking a bite makes no noise because it is a firm yet soft caramel that sticks to my teeth as I chew.  The immediate flavor is the dark chocolate and a lightly tangy caramel that turns to a roasted hazelnut and dark chocolate mixture that lingers for a while in my mouth; the salt is just there in the background adding a hint of complexity.  The result is a very well balanced flavor experience that was fun to chew and work off of my teeth.

Next is another nutty version in the Almond Sea Salted Caramel that has single diagonal dark chocolate line with crystals along one side of it that have a light purple hue to them.  This has a stronger salt scent with a light almond edge and definite dark chocolate.  The salt is the first flavor I get then it fades as the sweet almond, tangy caramel, and chocolate start to work their way through it.  The sea salt crystals here a bit large and they infuse everything.  I knock off the single crystal on the other side and eat that solo which allows the chocolate, the roasted sweet almond, and the tangy caramel to shine on their own and blend together to the very end.  I think this one is a bit too salty so I'd recommend knocking off a few of the crystals before eating.

Orange Sea Salted Caramel breaks the tree nut line and has milk chocolate waves on the top underneath very small sea salt crystals.  This has a strong orange fragrance with a hint of sweetness as well as the dark chocolate, the salt scent is very slight. This is a touch less sticky on my teeth and also a bit softer to bite into.  Immediately the tangy caramel is revealed to my tongue but very quickly this is followed by the orange that remains as the caramel lessens and lets the salt then the dark chocolate forward.  While the blend is good I wish the dark chocolate was either a bit more intense or the orange a tad less intense but over all I really like it.

Finally we get to the Ginger variety that has a long, winding dark chocolate line from one corner to the other with tiny sea salt crystals.  The main scent I get from this piece is the dark chocolate then the ginger and the salt.  This is interesting because now I wonder if the orange will turn out to be the most powerful non-chocolate flavor in the collection.  This caramel is very sticky and the initial flavor is the chocolate then the ginger that turns into a buttery caramel before fading into a salted dark chocolate.  This is unexpected and yet very well blended.  I really love this one.

My preferences in order have to be the hazelnut, the ginger, the almond, and finally the orange.  All of these were really good and it was more a matter of balance than anything else. All had good chocolate and with the organic nature of these as a bonus, these earn Sacrament status here on The Chocolate Cult.  If these Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels sounded wonderful to you, Sisters and Brothers, you have time to check them out and even order them for "National Chocolate Caramel Day" on March 19th.

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