I feel mildly guilty telling you about these... Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Almonds with Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar. I'm not wild about nuts; I like them well enough. But add chocolate, sugar, and sea salt, and watch out. These little devils are terribly, terribly addictive. Be warned: I hope you have more self-control than I do.
One of my husband's former students gave him a tub of these as a thank-you gift; he is opposed to dark chocolate, which I consider ridiculous, so it fell to me to try them. Whoa! I'm still processing the experience; it was mildly life-changing — not up there with having a religious conversion or whatever; more like discovering that you can bend into some intense yoga posture you never thought possible. Or that the bearded man at the next table in the breakfast room in Milan was the wonderful art teacher who told your 10th-grade class to be sure you all made it to Venice before you died (this happened to us, en route from Venice).
Anyway, these nuts are part of the fabric of my life now. It's a chocolate-stained and fur-covered fabric, as you can imagine.
I like to fit into my clothes. But I also crave these nuts. I didn't eat the entire tub at one sitting; I went mad briefly, but then recovered and stretched it out over more than a week. But it required tremendous self-control and leaving the house or sleeping much of the time. And eating cookies. Now I'm on my second tub, and I see the writing on the wall...
I find myself thinking about them too much of the time. That's bad news for my skinny jeans.
Here's a photo I took last night. There are fewer in there now.
They are not all that appealing visually, as you can see. In fact, they remind me of something I might find in the cat box... but I really don't care. You won't care, either, I promise. It's not the least bit of a deterrent.
The addictive element is the sea salt. Salt and chocolate were made for each other; chocolate recipes without a whiff of salt are inevitably bland and disappointing. Salt gives more complexity to chocolate's flavors while tempering its sweetness — so you can easily keep eating more, and more, and more. To, me the almond is merely a nutritious and therefore semi-guilt-free vehicle for the chocolate, the sea salt, and that dusting of crunchy turbinado sugar that is the icing on the cake, so to speak.
Salt is why peanut butter and chocolate make such a divine combination. That student also gave my husband a tub of Trader Joe's tiny peanut-butter cups. Eating those along with these nuts is a mind-blowing experience for any chocoholic. (I believe that student is destined for greatness, but I can't help wishing she had gotten accepted to culinary school instead of law school.)
These are ranked at #16 on the customer-voted TJ's 2011 Most Favored Favorite Products List. I predict they'll be heading to the top of the list in 2012 — if my experience is any indicator.