Did you know that Aldi and Trader Joe's are related? YUP! They're sister companies owned by the same German family. For the most part, each store releases their own items catering to different niche markets and trending flavors, but once in a while both stores will release the same product, with different packaging and price points. (Like these pumpkin scone cookies I compared and reviewed.)
Years ago, I picked up THIS beautiful dark chocolate passport gift item from Trader Joe's, and I completely lost it over the gorgeous packaging. Flash forward to now, when I see Aldi trying to release their own dark chocolate themed gift pack for the holidays. It's no-where near as cute as the Trader Joe's one, but this has something the Trader Joe's version lacked. Variety.
The Trader Joe's bars were all dark chocolates from various locations around the world, but they were just dark chocolate. No toppings, not mix ins, no nothing. They were pretty, but by the third bar I was bored and my palette was exhausted. I don't think I ever finished reviewing the box set, mainly because...my tongue just didn't care. I was craving some flavor, and (hopefully) Aldi will deliver.
There's no comparing the packaging. Trader Joe's wins by a landslide. Rather than tear this Aldi version apart, I'm just going to move on to the tasting, since I've got a lot of ground to cover. (And calories to munch.)
I'm really hoping that this will be one of those, "don't judge a book by it's cover," products.
Dark Chocolate: Meh, it's okay. It's sweeter than most 70% dark chocolate bars, has decent mouth-melt, and feel, but it's just dark chocolate. It's okay for snacking, but I feel like this would be better used in baking, or melting down for hot cocoa. I don't want to eat this whole bar on it's own. I'm getting Trader Joe's flashbacks.
Peanut Butter: Worst of the bunch. Major fail! The filling is dry and crumbly, like those powdery protein-packed health food peanut butter products all those health and fitness bloggers mix into everything. The chocolate is the same as the first bar, but that filling is just...no. I don't even want to eat the rest of it. Gross.
Coconut Cream: Tastes just like a Mounds bar, but with a LOT less shredded coconut. All the flavor, without needing to floss my teeth? WIN!
Raspberry Burst: Not much of a burst at all. Barely any filling, but it does have some decent raspberry jam flavoring. Normally chocolate raspberry candies taste really fake, but this is pretty authentic and a little decadent. Another win!
Mint Cookie Crunch: Not much of a "crunch," but this tastes like Girl Scout Thin Mints! It reminds me of the limited edition Crunch bars I loved so much, so this is a MAJOR win!
Sea Salt Caramel: I had high hopes for this one, because it took such pretty photos, but it's pretty awful. The chocolate is the same sweet base as the rest of the flavors, mixed with overly sweet caramel, and a mild hint of salt. The filling isn't complex and buttery enough to overpower the chocolatey shell. Forgettable, but still edible. (I rhymed!)
Brownie Batter: Super disappointing! The same ol' chocolate base with a hint of artificial Cosmic Fudge Brownie. It's okay, but I rather use it for baking than munching. It's too one-note.
There were some hits (coconut cream, mint cookie crunch, & raspberry burst), but mostly misses. As a whole, this product suffers from their uneven bar-to-filling-ratio. There's just way too much chocolate! (Which is something I never thought I'd say, but hear me out.) Since these all use the same 70% dark chocolate base, and the fillings are rather puny by comparison, this variety lacks...variety. If they had beefed the fillings up a bit and let those mix-in flavors really shine, this would be a lot more bang for your buck, but as is, this is just lots of mediocre dark chocolate for an admittedly decent price point.
If you were planning on having a s'mores or hot cocoa bar at a party or get together, this is a fun way to add some mix ins to your table without breaking the bank, but for individual snacking, you're better off getting a few tried and tested bars you know you'll enjoy. (Especially if you like peanut butter. This PB bar was the biggest let down of the bunch!) I'd like to see the mint and coconut bars sold solo at Aldi in the future, but I wouldn't bother with any of the other flavors.