What does all that have to do with this particular (and peculiar-sounding) chocolate bar? You'll read soon enough. First, let me tell you how amazingly good this is. It's so good, one of my good buddies randomly called me one night and first thing out of his mouth, he inquired, "Have you tried the Trader Joe's sea salt/caramel/dark chocolate bar? Holy cow, it's amazing." I didn't think chocolate was something one dude usually called another dude about, no matter how tasty, but I kinda rolled with it. Last week, Sandy and I made an over-the-state-border Trader Joe's run to, uh, procure some other products I'll be reviewing in the upcoming weeks and we started our TJ's shopping after a good dinner out (where I had, among other things, a remarkably good peanut butter coffee porter). In the mood for a good dessert and after a successful crazy taste combination, I saw this on the shelf and decided, what the hay, worth a shot.
A few miles down the highway on the way back home, Sandy and I decided to bust it out. Oh man. First, the chocolate. I'm a guy who has cut his sweet tooth on many a Hershey's milk chocolate bar, so that's what I'm used to. The darker, higher percentage cacao variety has never held much appeal for me - I can appreciate some types but find others to be too bitter for my taste buds. The TJ's bar is 70% cacao so I wasn't sure what to expect. I can only say I was fairly surprised as it was some of the tastiest dark chocolate I've ever had, and any bitterness was more than covered up by the silky rich caramelaliciousness oozing out of each square. Pretty fantastic by it's own right, but amazingly enough, add in the sea salt...out of this world. I wouldn't have guessed it, but the sea salt seems to accentuate the chocolate and caramel with this smoky undertone that just heightens both tastes. In every bite there's the chocolate, caramel, and sea salt, all present yet balanced and very complimentary of each other. I have never had anything that's tasted quite like this. Between the two of us we quickly wolfed down the entire bar, which consisted of eight roughly one-square inch bites to snap apart.
So, back to my opening tangent...I have decided turnaround is fair play. That's right, wifey, it wasn't just dog food I was planning to pick up Thursday night at Trader Joe's. I have listened to you and decided this is something I want to savor again and enjoy over the space of a few days, maybe even a week or more, instead of plowing my way through it first chance I have. And since I couldn't just let you interfere with this plan, I was going to go stash it away somewhere and keep all for me. Anyways, that was my plan, but...dang local TJ's ran out. All the other kinds of chocolate bars but not a single one of these, and believe me, I looked and begged and pleaded to no avail. Obviously, somehow, you discovered what my secret plan was and collaborated with TJ's to make sure they weren't available. Or maybe...wait... you bought them all and hid them all away from me now, didn't you? Oh my gosh, yes, that's what you did. I can't believe you. It's a good thing you're cute, otherwise...dangnabbit, wifey wins again.
Sandy gives it a four and a half, the only demerit because it "gets messy." Keep in mind, this was on a warm day in a Subaru with an air conditioning system that only kinda works, so when she busted it out and started breaking up the squares, it was a little melty and left a small, tasty deposit on our fingers. If it kept cool or even in the freezer, I'd imagine this wouldn't be an issue at all. My take? I gotta give it a full-out five. Unlike other flavor combos I've tried from TJ's, this is so well executed and makes such an unexpectedly crazy good treat. Well done, TJ's, well done.
Bottom line: 9.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons