By Alisa Fleming – A package arrives on your doorstep. You open it to discover an assortment of elegantly packaged truffles, boxed chocolates, and gold-foil bars. A closer look reveals that these are more than just pretty chocolates; they are certified organic and non-GMO.
You assume that such a gift must have cost a fortune, but the secret lies with the giver. This package of sheer indulgence and quality was made possible by the new website from Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, and their unbelievably fair prices.
Imagine my delight when the package was for me! I have eyed Sjaak’s via the net for quite some time now. Yet an actual taste testing remained elusive, as their chocolates were difficult to procure. But now, with their new website and online shopping, it seems a plethora of delicious chocolate options have burst onto the vegan (and organic, and fair trade) chocolate scene.
While the package held some wonderful looking boxed chocolates, I was most preoccupied with the six varieties (yes, I said six!) of vegan / dairy-free chocolate bars. For some reason, I am always drawn in by the simplest selections.
So, without a moment’s hesitation, I opened every single bar to get a taste-test. Luckily, each bar was neatly scored into 6 easy to break off chunks, allowing for some convenient “guilt-free” snacking. After all, when you eat chocolate in chunks it doesn’t count, right?
To get a good baseline for their chocolate, I started with the bar labeled simply as “Dark Chocolate.” I think the only thing that bothered me was that I could not find the % dark anywhere on the package. Relying completely on my tastebuds, I would guestimate that this bar is around 50% dark. While I am far from a chocolate conosieur, I have gradually adjusted to darker and darker chocolates. That being said, this didn’t really qualify as “dark” in my opinion, but rather as a rich semi-sweet.
Don’t get me wrong this stunning bar (amazingly perfect even after a cross-country shipment) was (past tense) positively delicious, but I would rate it as a very yummy semi-sweet. It is perfect for my husband’s sweets cravings … in fact, I frequently catch him stealing from the semi-sweet chocolate chip bag.
Overall, this chocolate had a perfectly smooth creaminess, with no “off” notes. It had the contrasting tones of a semi-sweet that could easily appeal to a wide range of taste buds.
Dark Chocolate Almond
Not too much more needs to be said, this was the basic Sjaak’s Dark Chocolate with ginormous almonds within. Just in case you didn’t believe me that there were actual whole almonds in the bar, I have taken a picture…
Dark Chocolate Raspberry
Having purchased the dark chocolate with raspberries bar from Endangered Species a few times, I was expecting dried bits of raspberries throughout. But Sjaak’s took a different approach. It seems they felt an ordinary chocolate bar was not enough, they decided to shoot for a truffle bar instead. As I bit into my first chunk, I was welcomed by a mini gush of raspberry puree from the center.
I loved this truffle like experience, and the sweet/bitter notes of raspberry (more sweet than bitter) melded perfectly with Sjaak’s signature dark chocolate. This bar was a true delight.
Dark Chocolate Caramel
Another mini gush emerged from within this bar, but this time it was the almost unheard of filling of vegan caramel. The thin layer of sweet caramel complimented this bar for an almost milk chocolate like experience. It hinted at coffee, for what I would describe as a latte flavor. Overall, excellent, but my personal passion still lies with their raspberry bar.
Dark Chocolate Espresso
The bold scent of coffee quickly emerged as I peeled back the wrapper. Like the raspberry bar, I was expecting little additions, basically a chocolate spiked with espresso beans. But, like the raspberry bar, this was more of a truffle bar, with an espresso filling in each little chunk.
Now, they had a hard sale here, as I have never liked coffee. While I like the smell, I can’t stand that taste. That being fully disclosed, this obviously wasn’t my favorite bar. But anyone who likes even the hint of coffee will love this bar.
The actual coffee flavor in the filling combined with the chocolate for a nice espresso finish that I must admit, was not overpowering in the slightest. It was light, sweet, and clean. This was truly a bark worse than the bite scenario, with the warm aroma propelling beyond the actual flavor. And, while I am still not a big coffee fan, I think I might actually say yes if someone offered me another chunk of this bar.
Extra Dark 70%
At last, going for the gold, I unwrapped the Extra Dark bar for what I was anticipating as a “true dark” experience. The bar did deliver in richness. This slightly fruity chocolate delivered just enough of the sweet / bitter contrast to enliven my taste buds. Alas, the aftertaste was a bit too rich with cocoa, lingering on with a chalky flavor and texture. While I absolutely loved the initial punch of this bar, I must confess that I am partial to the smoother and “cleaner,” if you will, taste of their baseline dark chocolate.
Sjaak’s now offers a line of indulgent chocolate bars called Eli’s Earth Bars. There is the Dream Big Bar, Treasure Bar, and Celebrate Bar. Each Earth Bar is a caramel base with a variety of nuts, all enrobed in chocolate. They’re just like a candy bar from your childhood, but dairy-free, vegan, organic, and fairtrade!
My Extra Notes & Tips:
- Sjaak’s offers gift wrap, and an assortment of seasonal chocolate for gift giving. Who says you can’t send a gift to yourself?
- Above and beyond in quality, Sjaak’s runs a gluten-free and vegan operation, which means there are no dairy, eggs, or gelatin in their factory. Beyond the company’s own facility, Sjaak’s supports fair trade practices, as evidenced by a fair trade seal.
Where to Purchase: Visit www.sjaaks.com.
The Facts on Sjaak’s Chocolate Bars
Certifications: Sjaak’s Chocolate Bars are Certified Vegan, Certified Organic, and Fairtrade.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Sjaak’s Chocolate Bars are dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, vegan / plant-based, vegetarian. Some varieties are nut-free and peanut-free. Nonetheless, always read the ingredient statement and check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.
For More Product Information: Visit the Sjaak’s website at sjaaks.com