Chocolate Week #2: Trader Joe's 70% Dark Chocolate Bar with Caramel and Black Sea Salt

In a sea of over 9,000 chocolate and sea salt caramel-flavored chocolate bars, you'd think another variety couldn't possibly compare to the big league players like Recchuti, Eclat, Fran's, or Vosges. However, you would be incorrect. Trader Joe's hits it out of the park once more with its version of the now overdone favorite, eschewing Speculoos and going downright classic with its 70% dark chocolate, caramel, and black sea salt rendition.
I found this bar for a mere $2.00 at Trader Joe's, fancifully decorated with the brightly colored Victorian stock images that make up the bulk of their Fearless Flyer. This was one of the busiest and most aesthetically pleasing package designs I'd seen on one of their candies. It had a beautiful combination of textures and art all over the package. The narwhals and whales dotting the box must have helped collect the sea salt used in the bar, or at least that's what I like to think.
Inside, the bar is divided into eight neat squares. These are irrelevant as the squares implode at the slightest touch, releasing their caramel innards all over your board...fingers. Regardless, it's a bar that's both beautiful on the inside and outside, with a buttery, brown sugar-dominated caramel aroma and pervasive salt tang. The thin, crispy texture reminds me of some of the Vosges caramel-filled bars.
It melds impeccably with the dark chocolate, a salty version itself with notes of molasses and coffee and a bittersweet, chalky aftertaste, cushioned by the sugar in the caramel. Although loaded with caramel, it's not too sweet, which made it all too easy to eat the entire bar. For $2, I don't even think you could get a large bag of Brach's caramels, much less a high-quality bar like this, which makes it not only an excellent version of its popular cousins but a great value as well.

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