For those of you who love Sjaak’s (or are eager to try their products), I have great news: All of their chocolates are now vegan! Sjaak’s was one of the first chocolatiers to recognize the demand for dairy-free chocolates. Since those initial vegan chocolate bars years ago, they have rapidly expanded their non-dairy offerings, which it appears have now taken over. And I’m pretty happy about it.
Sjaak’s offers individual chocolates, bars, seasonal chocolates, and their boxed chocolates for gift giving (mom, perhaps?). We most recently trialed their Salted Caramels.
These generously-sized chocolate shop-style caramels were so smooth, so creamy, and SO delicious. The touch of chunky sea salt was an amazing contrast that left me wanting for more.
I have to admit, one could easily mistake the milky chocolate coating and rich caramel filling for their dairy-filled nemesis. Oh, and did I mention that they come in flavors? Each four-count box includes a Ginger, Orange, Almond and Hazelnut salted caramel – all organic, all vegan, all indulgent.
In order to keep all of their boxed chocolate goodness in one easy review post, I’m adding our Dark Chocolate Nuts & Chews review, though these gems are only offered in the fall and winter months (October through year end for the Christmas variety, and January through Valentine’s Day for the everyday variety).
Please note that the varieties in this box may have changed slightly since our initial review notes though the photo above is current. I’ll update if we trial them again!
Before I even mention how positively delicious these chocolates were (past tense, not a chocolate smudge left), I must comment on the package itself. I love, and I mean love, how Sjaak’s put a what’s what chart on the back. The perfect image told me without a doubt what chocolates we were sampling. For those picky boxed-chocolate eaters, this means no more taking a bite only to discover it is your least favorite flavor. While I love surprises in general, I do like to know what I am getting into with my chocolates.
Chocolate Caramel – Unlike Sjaak’s dark caramel bar, oozing with a thin layer of creamy caramel, this was a real caramel chew. The good, stick-to-your-teeth filling was coated with a thick layer of Sjaak’s dark chocolate. It was a fairly mild dark for those who are timid, but with just enough of that bittersweet note to keep things interesting.
Pistachio Caramel – I wasn’t sure what to expect on this one …was it going to be the same as the caramel one but just with a pistachio on top? Much to my surprise, this chocolate had a sweeter center and a milder overall taste that seemed to dance on my tongue. A definite winner! Oh and the pistachio on top didn’t hurt either.
Pecan Caramel (Runner-up) – The pecan caramel had a much softer center, which my teeth were grateful for. Overall, it had more of a calming milk chocolate like flavor, and little tiny bits of pecans dotted throughout. Thus far, a possible favorite.
Mocha Caramel – Softer than the Chocolate Caramel, but not quite as soft as the Pecan one, this caramel had a potent coffee taste that I didn’t mind when melded with the chocolate and soothing caramel. Since I am not a coffee fan, it isn’t surprising that this one wasn’t my first choice. It was a bit strong for my taste buds, but perfect for any mocha lover. I admit being intrigued by the chocolate mocha burst affixed atop this chocolate. I had assumed it was a coffee bean, but it turned out to be a wonderfully rich chocolate chunk with a coffee hint.
Peanut Caramel – This ode to a peanut chew had little bits of peanuts dotting the chewy caramel center. The chocolate coating was mild, almost milky, sliding down with ease and leaving the focus on the filling.
Almond Crunch (The Winner) – Expecting just chocolate-coated almonds, I was incredibly surprised and delighted as a bit into this truly unique chocolate. A very likable chocolate background (not too bitter, not too sweet) was riddled with an incredibly addictive sugary crunch. Large almond chunks dotted the top for a creative finish that made this chocolate my hands down favorite. If Sjaak’s sold a box with nothing but this flavor in it, I would be their first customer.
Nugget – I can only describe this chocolate as very pleasant. It possessed the slight flavor of a peanut-y caramel, but with a very soft and forgiving caramel center that melted into a warm buttery aftertaste.
Coconut Caramel – Perfect for the coconut lover, this was another relatively soft caramel with sweet coconut bits throughout. Very delightful and sweet.
Cashew Cluster – Okay, I must confess, I lost my notes on this one! I recall cashew chunks and a good flavor overall. Of course, cashews and chocolate are just a naturally winning combination!
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, Sjaak’s chocolates are vegan, vegetarian, egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and peanut-free. Nonetheless, 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 www.sjaaks.com
Salted Caramel Photos by Kylie Campbell