Among the latest goodies to cross my desk are two tins of Trader Joe’s Chocolate Wedges, Dark Chocolate Caramel and Extra Dark Chocolate. Since Trader Joe’s sells everything under its own label, there’s no way to know, without doing a lot more sleuthing than I care to, who actually makes their chocolates, but the quality is generally quite good, so it’s a moot point.
This duo is composed of Dark Chocolate Caramel and Extra Dark Chocolate. Both come in small tins with clear inlays in the top so you can see the chocolates. They contain sixteen wedges weighing in at 3.5 ounces (100 g).
First, the Dark Chocolate Caramel. The chocolate is 70% cacao; the list of the other ingredients is not as staggering as it seems at first glance: basically, dark chocolate, caramel, salt sugar, and a few fillers and preservatives, along with the usual caution that it contains soy, milk, and may contain traces of nuts. The wedges are bite-size, and are really quite nice. The chocolate covering is somewhat brittle, breaking on the first bit to flood your mouth with the sweet caramel filling. Make no mistake,though: this one falls into my “candy” category, rather than being classed as “chocolate” — there’s not a lot of subtlety here, and little in the way of nuance.
The Extra Dark Chocolate wedges are a different story. At 73% cacao, they’re just enough above the caramel wedges to rate as “chocoates”. The texture is not quite as brittle as one might expect, but it’s not soft, either. The ingredients list does specify that we’re getting unsweetened Belgian chocolate, along with sugar, cocoa, and natural vanilla flavor. There’s not enough sugar to cancel out the natural bitterness of the cacao, but that itself is not overwhelming — it’s more in the aftertaste than right up front. Indeed, the aftertaste is almost pure chocolate — not much in the way of nuance here, either, save for a slight tartness that offsets the cacao very nicely.
These are good everyday chocolates — not connoisseur level, but not the overly sweet stuff that too often passes for chocolate. Strangely enough, I couldn’t find a reference to these at Trader Joe’s website, although they seem to be available everywhere from eBay and Amazon to Walmart — at rather staggering prices, from $9 and up per tin (I found one referfence to them costing $3.49 per tin at Trader Joe’s; I haven’t seen them at my local TJs, but then, I haven’t looked). If yiou decide you really must have them, check your local Trader Joe’s.