Folks, I've got a bone to pick with the world. Where is salted caramel on the grocery shelves, in the big ol' box shops, the convenience stores, the dim sum bars, the daily commute! Where is it?
Nowhere to be found, and that is just stupid.
Salted caramel is IT, it is the in thing in mid-couture to high-class desserts, and has been for at least a year or two. Thing is, a lot of people may tell you that it is going downmarket, the trend forecast is stormy, salted caramel is so 2000 and late, get over it!
Well, if that's the case, why can't I buy a delicious bit of salty 'n' sweet at my local newsagent, like Silly Bandz or...I dunno, scrunchies? Pah, I sez!
The way I see it, salted caramel should be everywhere. KitKats have been known to be successfully experimental, Mars bar lends itself well, or how about Digestives with a layer of salty caramel? I don't know, guys. It just seems like I'm stating the obvious. I hate to think that salted caramel is going to be unpopular before it even gets to be enjoyed by the candy commuting community, your average Joe KitKat who just grabs a chocolate bar before he goes into the office in the morning, just trying to get through his crappy day with a bit of sugar and fat. Why not throw the guy a bone and splash a bit of salty caramel into his Snickers bar? C'mon, be a pal, Mars.
Here's the thing though, there are a lot of Hotel Chocolats spread across...the areas of England I've been to, so I think they have a decent number of locations--and a decent salted caramel. So decent, in fact, that I ate it too quickly to photograph. However this picture, courteously swiped from the Hotel Chocolat website, is pretty accurate and a lot better than anything I could do.
I really like Hotel Chocolat, they're priced well and like I said, easily available. Six pieces of their salted caramel, or any of their other filled-or-truffle chocolates, is only £3.50. Not bad at all for higher quality stuff than a big bar of Cadbury Caramel. They aren't super premium, they're a nice mid range. They're about where I rank See's in the USA--tasty and much better than Hershey's, but you can find them fairly easily and they're not going to blow anyone's head off. Put a box out at a party, and people will eat them with abandon, untethered by worries about price or availability, just appreciation of a nice chocolate.
So, the salted caramel specifically. I got the milk chocolate variety, and the shell was about how it's portrayed in the above photo--good ratios, in my book. I don't remember the logo nob on top tasting any different, but then again I didn't pause for much thought when it came to the noblet. Giggle, giggle.
The caramel was more sweet than salty, and the milk chocolate was creamy and not over-sweet. Over all, the balance did tip towards sugar more than I'd like, but it was a hundred times more balanced than your average caramel filled chocolate, like a Rolo or a Caramello. The caramel was runny and soft, which is just the way I like it.
Overall, I'd say that I'm very thankful to Hotel Chocolat for having a nice salted caramel I can grab easily on my way home from work, but if they were across the street from a Paul A. Young, or a melt., they wouldn't be getting my £3.50. However, I really love them for their availability, playfulness and creativity, especially as a mainstream brand, and fair pricing--they just don't have the most perfect salted caramel. Will I buy them again, definitely.
Do I still think salted caramel deserves to be completely mainstreamed? Yes, for sure. Bring me salted caramel Quaker instant...this INSTANT.