Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates in Petaluma makes vegan organic chocolate bars, truffles, and other treats. When we saw a couple of their alternative milk chocolate bars at The Chocolate Dragon Bittersweet Café & Bakery in Rockridge we decided to give them a try.
Sjaak’s started out as Sjaak’s Fine Chocolates in Eureka. Founded by Dutch immigrant Jacques Holten in 1988, he expanded the business in 2004 to vegan organic chocolate with Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates. His daughter Jessica was a co-founder of Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates and now heads the business.
Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates checks off all the boxes for organic chocolate and then some:
- Certified organic
- Non-GMO ingredients
- Rainforest Alliance certified cacao
- Gluten free
- No soy
They even have a line of Paleo friendly coconut milk chocolates. And because they state on their website that the sugar they use is bone char-free, TIL that most refined sugar is white because it is filtered with charcoal made from animal bones so it is not vegan. Sugar that is not filtered that way — like raw brown sugar or beet sugar — is considered vegan.
The Sjaak’s bars we got at Chocolate Dragon were their smaller 2 oz. bars that are packaged in “compostable film” (because they also check off the box for reducing waste). I like that they have a less expensive option — they also have 3 oz. bars — easier to try something unknown or splurge on yourself guilt-free.
The Sjaak’s Melk Chocolate bar was a simple 3/8″ thick solid bar with a soft break. It used rice milk, almonds, and vanilla as a substitute for cow’s milk, making for a sweet but not sugary sweet bar.
It had a licorice overtone initially which wasn’t bad but a little weird. As it melted I could taste the almonds but I don’t know if they were an infusion or ground in really fine or ? because the chocolate’s texture was very smooth.
It’s a unique taste, not bad but not chocolatey enough for me. They don’t list the cacao percentage on the wrapper, but I would prefer if they bumped it up a bit.
Peanut Butter Melk
I liked Sjaak’s Peanut Butter Melk bar better. First of all because it’s peanut butter (a fav). It had a distinct though mild peanut taste, and peanuts were the first ingredient in the list on the wrapper. Priorities!
It used the same melk® chocolate as the first bar. This time the bar was a filled not solid bar with a very soft break. The filling had the texture of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup but the chocolate had that same unusual licorice overtone and again it was just not chocolatey enough for me.
Both of these bars seemed more like candy bars than chocolate bars. The chocolate flavor is too light and the melk ingredients get in the way. The bars are well made and I liked their custom mold topped with the tulips. But they didn’t scratch my chocolate itch.
They have other 2 oz bars on their site with more flavors and some are dark chocolate. The larger 3 oz. bars are available with slightly different flavors. I think I should try their dark chocolate bars sometime — or maybe the Paleo bars, anything without the rice milk combo — to see if I like them better.