Everybody’s Doing It.

I don’t know what you were thinking from the title of this post, but I’m talking about caramel and salt.  Chocolate with caramel and salt, that is.  If ever there were a trend to take off unanimously, this would be on top of that list.  With macarons and designer cupcakes just below.

As you all know, I have my chocolate radar on 24/7, always on the lookout for new chocolate bars, whether in my local Coop or around the world.

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I have always loved the combination of dark chocolate and salt, and have had the habit of sprinkling a touch of fleur de sel on the former for years.  The trend is not new, and chocolate makers have been adding salt to their bars for quite some time now.  You can be sure that any dark chocolate bar made with sea salt will find its way into my repertoire.  And so, that was the case with Vosges’ Haut Chocolat “exotic candy bars” (US), Theo Bread & Chocolate (US), de Bondt‘s Cioccolato Fior di Dale (Italy) and Goldhelm‘s Chocolate Extra-Fino 70% Flor de Sal de Ibiza (Germany).  More recently, I discovered ChocoLate Organiko‘s Chocolate Negro Bio 70% Cacao con Flor de Sal de Ibiza (Spain), Leysieffer‘s Halbherbe Schokolade mit Meersalz (Germany) and Pierre Hermé’s Mélissa Chocolat au Lait à la Fleur de Sel (France).  Along the same lines, local Swiss favorites are Nobile 71% Nusskrokant Maldon Salz, Beschle Grand Cru Trinitario 65% Fleur de Sel et Pistaches and most of all, my favorite of the bunch, Lindt Noir Fleur de Sel (there are always at least 2 of these in my chocolate drawer), which I discovered upon moving to Zürich in 2008.  If ever there were a sign that I made the right decision to move to Switzerland, that was it !

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I used to sprinkle salt on my caramels too, until I got my hands on Fran’s Chocolates when living in New York City, divine buttery caramels dipped in dark chocolate sprinkled with gray sea salt.  Chocolate, caramel and salt.  There are few combinations more heavenly.  And few chocolates that reach perfection like Franck Kestener‘s Atlantique (sablé croquant et caramel tendre à la fleur de sel) and Bernachon’s Kalouga (chocolat noir au caramel au beurre salé).

The big chocolate brands have once again jumped on the bandwagon and presented their own bars featuring this winning trio – chocolate, caramel and salt.  So the natural thing for me to do…was taste each and every one.

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And here they are… the latest chocolate bars to hit the shelves here in Switzerland: two new dark and two new milk, featuring chocolate, caramel and salt.

Lindt‘s new bar, Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel, caught my eye because it looked anything but Lindt.  Completely new packaging, even a new look to the chocolate itself – a departure from the classic squares you saw up top.  I really liked the “window” that allows you to see the actual bar through the front of the wrapper, and I loved the new look of the chocolate.  It’s thin, smooth and has these great waves to it, as you can see below left, that make for a silky mouth-feel.  Turn the bar over and it is covered with tiny caramel pieces.  I tend to like my dark chocolate sweet, and wow did I enjoy this. The salt just enhances all the flavors.  Verdict: addictive.

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I had the same reaction when in France last year, when noticing completely new and modern packaging from Nestlé:  an envelope-like opening, not to mention an undulating surface to the chocolate itself.  I was ready to grab a bar or two for just those reasons.  But when I saw Noir Éclat Caramel Pointe de Sel, my feet nearly left the ground.  What’s not to love? Rich dark chocolate (cacao from Ecuador and West Africa), perfect snap, added texture to the chocolate, crisp bits of intense and sweet hard caramel with just enough salt.  Warning: these little squares disappear fast.

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No coincidence that Cailler has the same packaging and updated shape to its chocolate, considering the source is the Cailler-Nestlé Factory in Broc-Gruyère.  Even though it’s milk, I was still curious to taste Cailler’s Lait & Caramel Pointe de Sel.  On the back of the packaging, it says, “Did you know that a chocolate’s shape influences its taste?”  What do you think? Do you agree?  Inside the flap, it says, “Cailler has reinvented the chocolate square. It is now a softened shape that reveals all the unctuousness of an extra-fine Swiss milk chocolate.”  I have to say, I do like the new shape and the packaging, but I’m sticking with dark chocolate.

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The other new milk chocolate under the Nestlé name is Lait Caramel Beurre Demi-Sel. Unfortunately I have to say that my number two tester and I were disappointed with this bar.  The texture seemed off; the caramel was not hard enough that it cracked, nor soft enough to be chewy.  My tester’s reaction was that the chocolate itself tasted too much of milk directly from the Swiss cows!  Indeed, there was a very high percentage of milk (even lighter than Nestlé’s other milk bar featured below), and it was almost a turn-off. Sorry.

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These brands also recently introduced bars with flavor profiles other than our sweet trio above.  Lindt Noir Caramel Intense et Feuilleté d’Amandes in its classic black and white packaging, is dark chocolate with pieces of caramel (no salt) and almond slivers (exactly as in Orange Intense), the interior richly striated as in the image below right.  Sugar is the first ingredient in this bar though, and I do think that’s apparent.  With the newer design as above, Lindt also just released Lait Orange & Pistaches, milk chocolate sprinkled with crushed caramelized pistachios and almonds, as well as little bits of orange crisps. Again, I’m not a huge fan of the milk chocolate here, but the play on textures and flavors was quite nice.

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And last but not least, Nestlé added a new Lait Praliné Suisse to its lineup, with a darker milk chocolate and a nice crispy, crumbly  interior.  Nestlé, if you’re reading this, how about Praliné Suisse… Noir?!  And while you’re at it, sprinkle a few flakes of salt on top…

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So… are you a fan of the chocolate, caramel and salt trio?  What bar above are you most tempted to try?  And what have you tried lately?

31 Responses to “Everybody’s Doing It.”

  1. Lani says:

    You had to ask the question, which one would I be most tempted to try? Well, it is a very hard choice for me but I do tend to the dark chocolate so I would go for Lindt caramel and sea salt. This is right up my alley. I love the mixture of salt and chocolate, always have. My favorite thing is dark chocolate covered pretzels. There you have both tastes but now Lindt added the caramel. That is just perfect. The other chocolate bars look lovely too……I would love to be a taste tester. Do you need one?

  2. Hilda says:

    YES! I’m a fan of the trio, and really want to taste the Bernachon and the Kestener chocolates. Like you I’m not always won over by the Lindt but sometimes it’s wonderful. I don’t think I’ve seen the new dark one with caramel and salt here though so haven’t been able to try it yet. I used to love milk chocolate when I was younger but now, save for a few kinds, I’m almost repelled by it as I find it terribly sweet, so I’d say a resounding yes to all the dark chocolates you mentioned, and less enthusiastic but still yes to the milk chocolate ones. =)

  3. Mowie @ Mowielicious says:

    Darling Kerrin, I love your obsessions! =)

    I think I was mentioning to Hilda that I’ve never tried the salt/caramel combo – you should have seen the face she pulled at me! I felt like I’d done something wrong! Teehee. From what I hear, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it. So, contrary to your title – nope, I ain’t doin’ it. But I will be. And you will find out about it the minute I do. Heck you might even be in front of me when it happens xxx

  4. Andrea says:

    Looks delicious — now I’m delirious! Just started my “no sugar” diet….thanks Kerrin. Arrrrgh!!!

  5. Kerrin says:

    Lani, oh yes, totally a childhood favorite of mine – chocolate covered pretzels ! And even from an early age, I always wanted them to be dipped in dark chocolate instead of milk. But both, so good !

    Hilda, hope these chocolates make their way across the channel to you soon ! I’m with you on milk chocolate, just not a big fan. I rarely if ever buy milk. That would only be Felchlin’s Maracaibo Criolat 38% made with milk and cream (a chocolate revelation!). Or Pralus’ Mélissa. Otherwise, dark it is !

    Mowie, wow I am a bit shocked too, I understand Hilda’s reaction ! :) We need to get you caramel with salt – and soon ! And I do hope to be in front of you, sharing the tastes – and my obsession !! ha ha !

    Andrea, oops, sorry !! ;) But hey, there are some excellent sugar-free chocolates out on the market,… no ?

  6. kelleyn says:

    You are killing me! I think when I die I want to be dipped in chocolate or maybe in the casket if my husband doesn’t cremate me which is my wish. I am going to have too look for this carmel/salt chocolate combination by Lindt. I don’t think it has made it’s way here.

  7. kelleyn says:

    p.s. I love Fran’s chocolates. In Seattle they sell ice cream and the burnt sugar is devine.

  8. Emily M. says:

    oh, i LOVE fran’s burnt sugar ice cream!!! mmmm….

    and back on topic, i ADORE both the new lindt and cailler salt/caramel/chocolate bars. i’d even contemplated a blog post about it, so it was fun to see yours! anyway, they are fabulous! in our coop right now they are being sold only in little display stands at the front of the cash register line so i’m a little worried that they won’t be a permanent fixture. i stocked up. and, um, i need to stock up again.

  9. Julia @Mélanger says:

    Firstly, I must say that I am so highly jealous of all the amazing chocolate you have at your disposal there in picturesque Switzerland. Totally feel like I’m living in the last century – or the one before.

    I’m loving the texture chocolate. How great does that Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel look? I’d so be devouring a whole bar of tht in one sitting. I like the cute little shapes of that Nestlé chocolate. Though admittedly, I have seen similar envelope packaging here. It was almost like, all of a sudden it was everywhere!

    The flavour that most interests me is the orange and pistachio. I was actually thinking about that flavour combination the other day – if you can believe it! – and totally blown away this would come in chocolate form. We don’t even have the more popular Lindt fleur de sel chocolate available here (well, I’ve not seen it – and I would notice it!), let alone some exotic combination like this.

    But back to your question. Definitely a fan of the chocolate, salt and caramel combo. Unfortunately, not a lot here in Australia. :(

    So it’s official. You live in chocolate heaven. You are so lucky!

  10. Meeta says:

    oh yes i am addicted to the threesome! nothing could be better and would love to get my hands on some Bernachon. I do love a few of the Lindt selections too like you the fleur de sel – but I have not yet seen the orange and pistachios yet. GOtta go and check out the stores now.

    i am drooling and if you carry on like this i will weigh a ton by the time we see each other again!

  11. Rosa says:

    Mmmhhh, so good! Did you try Beschle’s chocolates? You can find it in MANOR…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  12. Kathrin says:

    Hi Kerrin,
    Your blog just made me get up and sneak to my chocolate drawer :) I received a sample bar of Lait & Caramel Pointe de Sel by Cailler today. I was going to save it until the weekend, but I just couldn’t resist.I like how the crispy salt blends with the crunchy caramel bits. Still, I can’t wait to try some of the dark caramel and salt chocolate bars you mentioned as I am more into dark chocolate. Thanks for the great blog. I admire the way your find words to describe flavours and tastes and your passion for it!
    Cheers
    Kathrin

  13. Uncle Beefy says:

    Wait! Salt & caramel? And chocolate? Eew!!! ;) Are ya’ kiddin’ me?!! LOVE this dastardly trio! Just too delicious! I of course have gone the route of my chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream but I’ll take this combo in any form, Kerrin! Um, did I mention that I happen to live in the home base of Fran’s Chocolates?

    And, while I’m here, can ya’ believe the style behind some of these bar molds?!! Europe has it goin’ on even in the designing of chocolate bars! Gorgeous! :)

  14. Kerrin says:

    kelleyn, not a bad way to go – dipped in chocolate ! I love Fran’s Chocolates too, I only know those caramels, and boy do I miss them ! I have no doubt that I would also love her burnt sugar ice cream, sounds divine, mmmm.

    Emily, ok, now I really want to taste that ice cream ! They have a shop in Seattle, and clearly need one here in Zürich ;) So glad to hear you love these bars too, and if you do a blog post, let us know and share the link for sure ! Meanwhile, the Coop I go to (Bahnhofstrasse & Bellevue) have huge walls with these new chocolates – and bonus, they’re even on sale. The chocolates may last a while, but *that* certainly won’t ! ha ha! Speaking of which, I better go back and re-stock up too ! :)

    Julia, I have to say, I definitely feel lucky to live in Switzerland – and yes you said it best, in chocolate heaven ! :) And luckily not just milk chocolate, as was the case years back. You said you could have Lindt’s Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel in one sitting ? Um, I did. There are no squares or defined shapes, so you just keep breaking (big) pieces off and before you know it… gone. Funny that you were thinking about orange and pistachio the other day, can’t wait to hear what you bake up.

    Meeta, you are too funny ! Go check your local store and let me know what you find…

    Rosa, good tip, I do like Beschle’s chocolate. I mentioned one of their dark chocolate bars in my post above, the one with pistachios and fleur de sel, YUM ! And even though it’s milk, I do love their lait au nougat de Montélimar. Haven’t tried too many others, what do you recommend ??

    Kathrin, thanks so much for your comment. And aha, you too have a chocolate drawer ! :) When I have bars like these in mine, they don’t last very long either. Sounds like we have similar tastes too !

    Uncle Beefy, I knew *you* were doing it too ! ha ha ! I’ll trade you a few of these bars for your chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel buttercream (drool), pleeeaaaase ! ;) And ok, if you must, you can throw in some of Fran’s Chocolates too. LOL !

  15. Jamie says:

    Now why oh why don’t they sell some of this stuff in Nantes? Really, I mean, Nestlé.. come on! Nantes is THE city of Caramel au beurre salé and one finds caramel with sea salt all over. Salted caramel dipped in chocolate has got to be my favorite chocolate there is! Fantastic! Thanks to you though I now need to prowl through the chocolatier’s of Nantes and find everyone’s special chocolat au caramel au beurre salé!

  16. Barbra says:

    The Lindt bar looks awfully good. I’m once again appreciative of all your delicious research, Kerrin.

  17. Steve says:

    Yes of course the trio sounds awesome. Why not! I hate to admit it but the Nestle Lait Praliné Suisse sounds awfully good to me. That said, i’d love you to send this post to the Nestle PR person to see their reaction to your Lait Caramel Beurre Demi-Sel comments. That’s what makes your blog so terrific – entertaining, informative and honest. Fabulous compilation of information. Most impressive. Now remind me how you stay thin.

  18. Deb says:

    Wait, what’s that sound? Oh, it is the sound of my lips smacking together over all the eye candy (excuse the pun)! If I had to choose it would be Lindt’ Noir Carmel & Fleur de Sel.

  19. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says:

    I love fleur du sel, these wouldn’t last long in my house either. Probably fortunate I’ve not seen them yet in the UK!

  20. Kerrin says:

    Jamie, how lucky to live in the capital of caramel au beurre salé ! :) mmmm, we’ll have to combine forces then. The divine salted butter caramels of Nantes + Swiss chocolate here. Sounds like a winning pair to me ! Let me know what you find on your sweet search !

    Barbra, you know I’m always willing to do all this research… for you, my readers. That’s who it’s all for, of course. (wink wink)

    Steve, hmm, not so sure the Nestlé pr person would be very happy with my comments above. But as all my readers know, I am always 100% honest. Glad you know that too. As for staying thin…. it’s all about an extremely healthy diet in addition to all the sweets, plus running, swimming, tennis, hiking,… always keeping active.

    Deb, good choice ! Glad you enjoyed the eye candy here :)

    Sarah, just wait… G&B is bound to do a bar with salt one day too…. ! ;)

  21. Jamie says:

    Ok, Kerrin, I will start the search this week and gather up the best of the best!

  22. jen laceda says:

    I LOVE that combination – chocolate, caramel, and fleur de sel. I LOVE it. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

  23. Lisa says:

    Those are some fantastic chocolate flavors. What fun it would be to search these out around Switzerland! I very much enjoyed sampling the chocolates there last year when I was able to spend a week in Lausanne. They are no doubt a little harder to find here but fun to read about nonetheless.

    It is interesting to wonder if the shape of a chocolate effects the taste. My first thought is no but then I will say that the older Lindt bars seemed a bit flat and thin to me for ideal enjoyment. I would love to try the Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel in the new shape.

  24. Jess "Klutzy Chef" says:

    What’s funny is that I just picked up a couple of the Lindt bars at the Coop myself. My husband rolls his eyes when I call it “research”. I’m still waiting for the perfect bar. When it comes to Lindt, the plain ol’ dark chocolate and fleur de sel has my vote.

    Although, I’m now wishing that I had used one of these bars for the compost cookie recipe I just tried out. If you haven’t tried it yet, you definitely need to give it a go. Talk about addictive…yikes.

    http://klutzychef.wordpress.com/2010/03/09/compost-cookies/

  25. Kerrin says:

    Jamie, your sweet search this week has begun – it’s only Tuesday and I am already impatient to hear back ! :)

    Jen, me too ! :)

    Lisa, glad you enjoyed the chocolates here. So what did you find on your Swiss travels last year ? Anything worth shouting about ?! As for the shape of a chocolate, I do think it affects the taste experience – perhaps not the actual flavor, but certainly how the taste is perceived, how it breaks and melts, how thin or thick as you said. A good question. Worth doing a new taste test to be sure, right ?! ha ha !

    Jess, there is no better form of research than chocolate research ! And the Coop is our library ! ha ha ! We’ve definitely got similar tastes – Lindt noir fleur de sel all the way – and compost cookies – I am obsessed ! Totally obsessed with them, Momofuku Milk Bar is practically my first stop whenever I’m in NYC ! Love eating them and making them myself too. I had added marshmallows to cookies last summer (http://mykugelhopf.ch/2009/07/marshmallows-part-3/) and have been adding more and more fun stuff ever since… Thanks for sharing your link, going to check it out right now !

  26. Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels says:

    I have to admit I never tried this flavor combination – but it does sound appealing to this chocoholic :-)

    the Lindt Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel sounds and looks the most like something I’d like to try. I’ll look for it the next time I go to the Coop! The Coop Silbern in Dietikon has a nice selection.

  27. Akila says:

    Oh my. That Lindt Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel looks heavenly. I need to get my hands on some of that! Love, love, love salted caramel.

  28. Nicole says:

    Hi Kerrin,
    I did manage to get my hands on the Lindt Fleur De Sel and found it quite delicious. A bit sweet, but well-balanced. Thanks for the alert.
    Your site looks just fantastic!
    Peace, and all good thoughts.

  29. Cailler Lait & Caramel Pointe de Sel Schokolade » Allgemein » blogstone says:

    […] Salz schmecke ich wenig, aber der Caramelgeschmack ist fein. Anstatt Milchschokolade würde ich wie MyKugelhopf eine dunkle Schokolade bevorzugen. Zusammen mit dem Caramel wär das dann extrem süss, […]

  30. Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels says:

    Ok, I came back after tasting two of the new Lindt bars you mentioned here :-)

    The Lindt Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel is lovely. Not too sweet, a perfect balance of flavors, neither one overpowering the other. Loved it.

    I also tried the Lindt Lait Orange & Pistaches, and to my dismay, I didn’t like it that much. I normally love the pairing of orange and chocolate, but this was too sweet and too orangey, with little to no pistachio flavor that I could detect.

    The Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel is definitely going in my list of favorites, though.

    Now I’m off to hide my precious fave and leave the orange and pistachio bar out for my family to eat ;-)

  31. Kerrin says:

    Elisa, my fellow chocoholic ! Awesome that you got to taste a few of these bars. And I am so with you, the Lindt Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel beat out all the others for me. The Lait Orange & Pistaches was original, but not exceptional. And you’re right – you don’t detect the pistachio very much. I am a fan of dark chocolate with orange, but perhaps just not with milk. Meanwhile, I would totally do the same – hide my favorite bar and leave out the others for the hubs to try, ha ha !

    Akila, me too – three cheers for salted caramel as well ! ;) I hope you’ll be able to find these bars. Let me know when you do…. I’m sure you’ll love the Noir Caramel & Fleur de Sel !

    Nicole, thanks so much for checking in. Definitely sweet, but definitely good too ! :) I’ll have to check out your site, and see what you’ve been tasting lately… !

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