Trader Joe’s may very well be the most socially conscious grocery store in the country. The Web site promises that everything packaged under the “Trader Joe’s” label offers no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, no genetically modified ingredients, no MSG, and no added trans fats. In the case of Trader Joe’s Organic Chocolates, this also includes certification by both the USDA and Quality Assurance International, and since organic chocolate is the product of a fairly limited group of producers, its almost guaranteed that the growers are getting fair, and probably premium prices. So, how does all that social consciousness taste?
The Super Dark Chocolate is guaranteed 73% cacao, which pretty much insures a good, strong chocolate taste. The scent is comparatively pronounced, rich and earthy. The texture is somewhat brittle, while it turns a bit chewy in the mouth. There’s just enough sweetness in the bar to offset the bitterness of the chocolate, with a slight taste of blueberries and a bittersweet aftertaste.
The Super Dark Chocolate with Almonds has the same rich scent, the same texture. The almonds seem to provide crunch rather than flavor: any hint of almond is overpowered by the chocolate, which is very rich and fruity, with a hint of molasses — although there’s a also a hint of dryness in the aftertaste that may be almond after all. This is another 73% cacao offering, with just enough sweetness to offset the bitterness.
The Dark Chocolate Truffle surprised me somewhat. This bar contains 57% cacao, so the chocolate flavor is not so pronounced, although the texture is only slightly less brittle than the darker chocolates. The scent combines chocolate and nuts. It’s slightly sweet, tasting of berries. There is nothing particularly “truffle-y” about it, either in texture or flavor — it’s quite firm and not particularly rich-tasting.
OK — these are not the most drop-dead chocolates I’ve tasted recently, but they’re way up there — for a product that is not artisan-produced and is readily available, they’re very high quality indeed.