Yesterday I met some of my favorite former students at Starbucks. While one of them has a coffee habit that might single-handedly keep that particular store in business, I am not only NOT much of a coffee fan, but I’m really not a Starbucks fan. It’s not the crazy, over the top commercialism of the chain. It’s not the cold, uninviting atmosphere (and darn uncomfortable chairs). It’s not even that I don’t really like coffee much. I have a special dislike of their coffee because it always seems extra bitter to me. Not to mention that I’ve never once had a good cup of chai, my coffee shop standby, at Starbucks.
Since Starbucks bought Teavana a few years ago, I’m actually not quite as disappointed when someone suggests we meet there. I actually enjoy many of Teavana’s teas, so if I’m going to be stuck in a Starbucks, at least I can get a cup of Peach Tranquility or Pineapple Kona Pop herbal tea to make my visit more enjoyable. Sure, I’ll still be uncomfortable while I’m in the joint, but at least my tea will be good.
I’d just finished a rather huge travel mug of David’s Tea before I pulled up in the Starbucks lot, so I wasn’t really in a tea mood. I broke tradition and ordered a salted caramel mocha. As usual, I was greatly disappointed. It was just too coffee for my taste. I managed to drink most of it, but more out of habit than enjoyment.
While my beverage was a let down, I was pretty excited about a snack item I noticed on the rack next to our table. I saw the bright white and yellow package for Money on Honey wildflower honey caramels. Even though the wrapper said it was dark chocolate, the idea of a honey infused caramel was too tempting for me to pass up. I LOVE honey in pretty much any form it wants to take. My favorite way to eat carrots is steamed and then cooked in some butter, honey and brown sugar. Yum!
Even though I love honey, I have been burned by honey chocolate before. My complaints about honey chocolate are two fold. First, honey is almost always paired with dark chocolate and often the dark chocolate is so overwhelming that the honey is lost. My other complaint, is that often when the bitterness of the dark chocolate doesn’t overwhelm, the honey is still completely underwhelming on its own.
Since Money on Honey is a honey caramel, my hope was that it would be heavy on the buttery taste of caramel and the silky taste of honey so that I would forget these were dark chocolate caramels.
I seriously lucked out. Yes, the dark chocolate is definitely there, but as it melted away and the caramel was left in my mouth, I got a full on blast of honey goodness. It actually reminds me a bit of a Bit O Honey, but only in flavor, not texture. It definitely has the chewy consistency of a caramel, but not the “I could chew this for hours” chewiness of Bit O Honey. It also doesn’t have any of the nuttiness of the Bit O Honey, which is fine. I want my caramels smooth.
The addition of the sea salt on top of the caramel, which really seems to be the only way caramel is produced these days, helps balance out the sweet of the honey and also distracts from the bitterness of the dark chocolate. I happen to be a pretty big fan of adding salt to very sweet candies–I like the way it confuses my tongue with the sweet and the savory. However, I really do feel like in the last few years it’s gotten almost too cliche. Even though I enjoy the combination, it would be refreshing to find caramel that isn’t salted.
That being said, I’m glad these caramels were salted. These are some of the best caramels I’ve had since I tried Vosges exotic caramels about a decade ago. Vosges bee pollen caramels are good, but I think I might like these even better.
Value: 8/10 (I don’t remember the exact cost of these, but I think they were about $3 for 4 caramels.