[Photographs: Erin Jackson]

Target has a pretty great track record when it comes to exclusive product releases. Take Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter World, as an example. It's one of my top 10 favorite foods of all time (and the best Ben & Jerry's flavor by a mile, in my not-so-humble opinion).


So, when I spotted another Target exclusive—a collection of new Lindt chocolate bars—I was optimistic enough to immediately try one of each of the four flavors: Nougat Crunch, Caramel Brownie, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Cookies and Cream. All of the flavors are available as a 1.4 ounce chocolate "sticks" (99 cents), 3.5 ounce bars ($2.79), and multi-packs of mini sticks ($3.99).

If you're a fan of Lindt's smooth, milk chocolate, all four are worth trying, but some are quite a bit sweeter than others.


Close-up of the Caramel Brownie bar

Go for the Caramel Brownie if you have a high tolerance for sugary chocolate. The smooth, cocoa-tinged caramel inside is sweet enough to cause an involuntary flinch. I ate this bar slowly, spacing out pieces over several days. It wasn't so much out of necessity, but more because I was trying to avoid a sugar coma. If you want to gorge, this probably isn't the best choice, but a bar that satisfies one tiny bite at a time is still a good thing.

The Strawberry Cheesecake is the most unusual flavor. Peel back the foil and the scent will hit you immediately. The aroma is sweet, like strawberry candy, but the flavor itself is more balanced. The cream cheese tang really comes through, but every time I broke off a square, I wished the chosen fruit component had more depth. I'd love to try a version made with black cherry or blackberry instead of strawberry. Even so, I'd buy this bar again, but like the caramel brownie, it's one that you eat a square or two at a time to avoid flavor fatigue (and sugar-overload).


Cross-section of the Lindt "Hello!" bars (L-R: Caramel Brownie, Nougat Crunch, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Cookies and Cream)

Typically, Cookies and Cream bars are white chocolate studded with crunchy cookie bits. They always end up tasting like a block of butter, so I was excited to see a milk chocolate interpretation. The flavor of the filling in this bar doesn't scream "cookies and cream", the taste is similar to the chocolate itself, but sweeter, with a different texture (creamy, with crunchy bits). This bar is a wise choice if you want something different, but not radically so. Compared to the caramel brownie and the strawberry cheesecake, it's not quite as sweet, so it's better suited to prolonged munching.

My favorite was the Nougat Crunch. It's not groundbreaking—Lindt already has several bars and chocolate confections with creamy ganache inside—but it was the most successful. The filling is balanced, not overly sweet or cloying, and the crisp texture of the crunchy bits whipped into the filling is totally addictive. While the caramel brownie bar stuck around in my cupboard for a week or so, this bar was demolished within 24 hours.

Since my initial visit, the collection has been expanded to include white chocolate versions, like Coconut Kiss (pineapple and coconut) and Berry Affair (blackberry and cherry), along with Coffee Blast (milk chocolate with coffee-flavored filling).

Have you tried any of the Hello bars? Let us know which one was your favorite in the comments.

About the author: Erin Jackson is a food writer and photographer who is obsessed with discovering the best eats in San Diego. You can find all of her discoveries on her San Diego food blog EJeats.com. On Twitter, she's @ErinJax


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