Category Archives: Rating: 7

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

While at my favorite grocery store a few weeks ago, I spotted a couple of fancy new bars.  I had to pick up one of each for review here.  The first bar is a 70% dark chocolate filled with black sea salt caramel.

The bar here is rather small at 3 oz. but the price was right ($2 if I remember correctly) and small is good in this case because the caramel filling is very fluid — completely leaking out when the first square is broken off.  It's a bar best eaten in one sitting.

The chocolate is a good quality — creamy and well tempered without any strong flavors.  The caramel tastes of cream and lightly caramelized sugar with a salty edge.  A little less flavorful than I usually like — more dulce de leche than burnt sugar.  A sprinkling of sea salt on the back of the bar gives a hint of crunch and enhances the flavor of the chocolate.

All in all, a very nice bar at a very good price. 

Dove Chocolate Easter Candy

Dove Chocolate recently sent me some of their Easter candy to sample and review here on the Chocolate Blog.  I was sent chocolate eggs, peanut butter eggs and coconut cream eggs — all are milk chocolate, and wrapped in foil.

The Milk Chocolate eggs are small and egg shaped.  They have a very smooth texture, and while sweet, they do have a nice chocolate flavor. 

The Peanut Butter eggs are oval, domed and flat on one side.  The chocolate shell is thick and once again, smooth in texture, although perhaps a bit waxy.  The peanut butter filling is firm and nutty.  Overall, I found it a bit sweet for my taste, but I tend to prefer dark chocolate.

The Coconut Cream eggs are similar to the Peanut Butter eggs in shape and appear to have the same chocolate shell.  They smell strongly of coconut but have a nice mellow, almost buttery flavor.  I liked these quite a bit despite their sweetness.  And as an aside — my husband, who claims he doesn't like coconut — had one, not knowing what flavor they were, and liked it quite a bit.  He attributed this to the smooth texture of the coconut cream center.

My 10 year old daughter liked all of these flavors, but her favorite is also the coconut cream — definitely different and something I would recommend. 

I'm also happy to report that Dove told me these chocolates are all gluten free!  In fact, their representative mentioned that all the Dove Chocolates are gluten free (although I would recommend that you always check the nutrition and ingredient labels.)  So our gluten free household is very happy to be able to sample these Easter treats.

New Tree Lavender Tranquility Milk Chocolate Bar

New Tree recently sent me some chocolate bars to sample and review, and I'm happy to say that a couple of them were marked as gluten free.  The first of these is the Lavender Tranquility bar which is milk chocolate with natural lavender flavor and natural lime blossom extract. 

The bar is quite pretty, shiny, well-tempered and the perfect thickness.  Each square breaks off easily and is perfectly sized to eat in a single bite.  The milk chocolate melts quickly and is has a slight texture, not exactly gritty, but not perfectly smooth.  The mouthfeel is somewhat thick and slightly sticky.

The flavor here is surprising!  I have had lavender chocolate before and always found it overwhelmingly floral — almost like soap.  Here the taste is more herbal, and while I have no idea what lime blossom extract is, I certainly think it must be what gives this bar it's bright, citrusy note.  The citrus cuts the floral taste of the lavender and makes this an especially pleasant bar.

You can find out more about New Tree at their website.


B.T. McElrath Salty Dog Chocolate Bar

I love a salty chocolate bar — especially one that contains toffee pieces — so when Pete spotted the Salty Dog Chocolate Bar from B.T. McElrath, he decided to bring one home for me.

The bar was beautifully tempered, shiny and smooth with lovely raised sections.  The chocolate is dark, containing no milk, and has a very firm bite.  It's melting point is a little higher than I like, making it feel just slightly waxy, but the flavor was well rounded with a hint of tropical fruit — namely banana.  The toffee gives a bit of texture to the bar, but not much.  In fact, I felt there wasn't quite enough toffee.  There was, however, plenty of salt, which was liberally sprinkled on the back of the bar.  On most of the pieces, the overwhelming flavor was that of salt.

Overall this was a good bar.  I ate the entire thing over the course of a couple weeks, having only one section at a time (because it was so darn salty).  If there was a bit more toffee and a bit less salt, I think this would be an excellent chocolate bar.

It looks like B.T. McElrath also makes a Prairie Dog Bar which adds almonds and uses milk chocolate instead of dark — I'd like to try that one as well as their truffles someday.  You can see more at their website.

Lake Champlain — Grace Under Fire


Lake Champlain Chocolates recently sent me one of their Grace Under Fire bars to try, and while I was a bit hesitant at first — not liking a bar that is too hot and spicy — I'm glad I tried it. The rich, sweet chocolate is well balanced with the red pepper, making it a subtle and enjoyable heat that makes you want to take another bite.

This bar is dark chocolate with pistachio and red pepper according to the front of the box, but looking at the ingredient list, you see there is also cinnamon in there. I think this sweet, but warm, spice bridges the gap and gives a nice added dimension to the overall taste profile.


If, like me, you like your spicy chocolate restrained but flavorful, this bar is for you.  And as is always the case with Lake Champlain, the bar is simply beautiful, glossy, well tempered and in great condition upon opening the package.

Find out more at Lake Champlain Chocolate's website.

Michel Cluizel and Champignons and Macarolats


Michel Cluizel sent me some items from their current collection to sample and review.  First up is their Champignons, or caramel Mushrooms.  As you can see, these are quite pretty, and each of the mushrooms has its own personality.  The caps are a crunchy almond nougatine covered in chocolate, and the foot or stem is buttery caramel covered in white chocolate with dark chocolate details.  The chocolate is rich and full flavored, the nougatine gives the top a satisfying bite and the caramel is nice and chewy with a good caramelized flavor.  The combination is a winner.


I also received two of their Macarolats — the green one was lime and I believe the other was Praline.  These are a fun take on the wildly popular macarons and consist of a thin chocolate shell filled with a thick ganache.  As with the Champignons, these were high quality, very pretty to look at and tasty.  The lime was subtle and enjoyable and the praline was sweet and satisfying.

If you are looking for fun, high quality, delicious chocolates, check out their website.  

Wonka Exceptionals

Recently I was sent the new Wonka Exceptionals chocolate bars to sample and review.  There are three new bars which are each quite large, weighing in at 3.5 oz. each and retailing for $2.39.  A pretty decent value for chocolate candy bars made with all natural ingredients.


The Chocolate Waterfall Bar is the first I'll discuss, and I think it's the prettiest by far.  The marbling of white and milk chocolate and the beautifully tempered bar made for a nice effect.  This chocolate is quite sweet and milky, with a nice smooth melt and cocoa butter flavor.  It is very sweet, which usually isn't my thing, but I couldn't stop eating it.  the flavor reminds me of Easter candy.


The second best bar, in my opinion, was the Scrumdidlyumptious Bar.  This is a candy bar all the way, filled with crunchy toffee, cookie and peanut bits.  Again, super sweet, but the crunchiness was had to resist.  The chocolate here takes a backseat and allows the almost peanut brittle like flavor to shine through. 


Finally we have the Domed Dark Chocolate Bar which was my least favorite of the three.  The chocolate, while quite smooth and creamy, just didn't have enough flavor for me.  In fact, sugar was the main flavor here, with only a hint of flat cocoa flavor in the background.

I liked these bars overall and would recommend them if you are in the mood for a sweet treat.  Choose the Waterfall Chocolate bar if you like it creamy and milky and the Scrumdidlyumptious bar if you love some crunch.

Xan Confections


I was recently contacted by Xan Confections, who wanted to know if I'd like to try their vegan chocolates.  I took a quick look at their website and liked what I saw. They make "all-natural chocolates that are non-dairy, gluten-free, vegan, low-glycemic and low calorie." So I told them to send me some samples and I gave them a try.

The Jewel Collection is composed of caramels that are vegan and gluten-free. The first thing that struck me was how pretty they are — nicely tempered, molded and dusted with a pearly powder. They come in a wide variety of flavors — from the spicy ancho chili to the mild and sweet chocolate caramel. I enjoyed these quite a bit and found them sweet and satisfying despite the lack of dairy. While you don't get that rich, burnt sugar flavor here, they stand on their own and were very flavorful.


I also tried the Saintly Sins collection — "Three 29 calorie chocolates, Raspberry Sin, Strawberry Sin, and Pineapple Sin. Low glycemic, diabetic friendly, gluten free and vegan." These were delicious and didn't strike me as a "low cal" chocolate at all. The chocolate was rich and dark which complimented the sweet and fruity centers.

If you are looking for top quality vegan chocolates, you can't go wrong with these. I was pleasantly surprised and feel very comfortable recommending Xan Confections.

Martine’s Chocolates


Recently I was contacted by Martine’s Chocolates who wanted to know if I would like to try a selection of their chocolates. Since it is just before Valentine’s Day, I received a pretty Valentine’s selection of their chocolates as well as a box of their sugar-free chocolates.

First the Valentine’s Day selection. The top tray is filled with glossy well tempered heart shaped solid chocolates and the bottom level was filled with some of their signature molded pieces. They look gorgeous — well molded and glossy and they all tasted very fresh. Fillings are on the tame side and include butterscotch caramel, gianduja, chocolate ganache and more. (You can see their entire menu on their website.

The sugar-free chocolates are solid chocolate or solid mixed with chopped nuts, cacao nibs or coconut. While I’m not a fan of sugar-free foods in general, these were pretty good with no off tastes. They were perhaps a bit more bland than the sugary chocolates, but a very acceptable alternative for those with diet restrictions. Definitely a premium sugar-free.

Q.bel Chocolate Candy Bars


Recently Q.bel sent me a selection of their all natural chocolate bars to try and I have to say that I was quite impressed! The bars come in 6 varieties — milk, dark and milk/peanut butter Wafer rolls and milk, dark and milk/peanut butter crispy rice wafer bars.

These bars are all natural and made with ingredients that I'm not scared to eat — no hydrogenated oils or HFCS, no artificial colors or flavors and real chocolate. In addition, the calories in a package are reasonable. For instance, my favorite was the Dark Chocolate Wafer Rolls which come 2 in a package and are 120 calories.

So, how do they taste — wonderful! The chocolate is rich and tasty without being too sweet. It is smooth and contrasts nicely with the super crisp wafers. The peanut butter varieties are fresh and nutty — only slightly sweet.

If I'm going to reach for a candy bar, this is what I would want. In fact, my husband and daughter have tried them and like them too. If you'd like to try them, leave me a comment. They sent me quite a few candy bars and I'm going to send some out to 2 lucky winners.  (US addresses only please, unless you want to chip in some for shipping,)

Q.bel chocolate bars are available at Whole Foods.