I love chocolate. I like salt. But salted chocolate?
When Salazon Chocolate, a brand new company, sent me samples of their salted chocolate bars last month, I was a little skeptical. I love good chocolate, but I don't like when people mess with it too much.
Salazon (which means salted in Spanish) claims to be the first salted-chocolate brand, and I initially wondered if maybe there was a good reason salted chocolate hadn't been done before.
But, I couldn't resist the company's motto — "roam the earth. eat chocolate." — or the fact that Salazon Chocolate was started by a hiker, Pete Truby, who preferred making his own salted dark chocolate rather than eating energy bars or "nutritionals" on his hikes. Plus, it was chocolate.
So today I got to work and dug in. I figured I'd try a sample from each bar. I ended up having to put the delicious half-eaten bars far, far away, two floors away, lest they disappear completely.
I am converted.
Organic Dark Chocolate with Natural Sea Salt: This is Salazon Chocolate's original bar. Like the others, the sea salt is sprinkled on the bottom of the bar and you taste it on your tongue immediately, though it's not overpowering. In fact, it naturally brings out the flavor of the rich chocolate. Once you taste this you understand how a little salt can enhance the natural flavors — sweet sugar, bitter cocoa — of even a pretty perfect food like dark chocolate.
Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Organic Turbinado Cane Sugar: Yum. Dark chocolate with turbinado cane sugar sprinkled on for added sweetness and crunch, plus the sea salt to bring out all the flavors. My favorite. If your chocolate preferences lean toward the milk variety, start here.
Organic Dark Chocolate with Sea Salt and Organic Cracked Black Pepper: I saved this one for last because I was even less sure of pepper in my chocolate than salt, but it works. Though all the bars are dark chocolate, this one tasted richer to me, and the salt is a little less pronounced when balanced with the pepper.
Salazon Chocolate bars are made in small batches in Maryland and are 100 percent USDA organic. The additional ingredients — like sea salt, pepper, and turbinado — are sprinkled onto the bars for better texture and taste, instead of mixed in with the chocolate. The resulting flavors are more complex than in a plain old milk or even dark chocolate bar, but not overly complicated or fussy.
Instead of being scored to break apart easily, the three-ounce bars are solid and feature a molded chocolate image of the Asian salt farm featured on their labels. My bars were broken into a couple pieces by the time I opened them, so I missed having a pretty, intact chocolate picture, but they still tasted great and hey, who needs scoring?
If you've never tried salted chocolate, I highly recommend you give these bars a try. Each Salazon Chocolate flavor has its own charm and I can see any one being a favorite for individual palettes. Consider carrying along a bar (or two) on your next hike or backpack.
Individual bars retail for $3.49.