A certain person who shall remain nameless has been teasing me with these Ben Tre bars for some time. With a series of emails and texts along the lines of “I bought you a Ben Tre bar to try” followed soon after by “Oops! I ate it!”, I decided the only way I was ever going to get to try this particular chocolate was to buy it myself.
Buy it. With money. Shocking, I know!
For the uninitiated (like me), Ben Tre is the name of the region – and the plantation – in Vietnam where the beans for these bars come from. The area was chosen both for the quality of the beans and to help provide a secure income for local people still affected by the aftermath of the Vietnam War.
The dark chocolate bar is 70% cocoa solids, and has a nice gloss and a good clean snap. I do think the logos embossed on the front of the bar are perhaps a little bit tacky though – and I really don’t need to be thanked for eating chocolate.
The chocolate has a really exotic and interesting flavour. It has the sweet, fruitiness that I love in dark chocolate, but also a fresh, almost grassy taste that gives way to a rich, chocolatey experience. It’s never too bitter or too sweet, has a wonderfully smooth texture and it melts away quickly on the tongue. It’s quite different to the overtly zingy Madagascan dark chocolates that I usually prefer, but it’s very, very good, not to mention moreish!
The 40% milk chocolate version is equally delicious. Going straight from the dark to the milk, it feels very creamy, but it’s not too sweet. All those fresh, exotic notes are still detectable though.
The text on the front of the packaging for these bars asks the question “Is this the best chocolate in the world?”. I’m not sure about that, but it’s certainly high on the list. If you take the exceptionally reasonable price into account as well, then the answer may well be yes.
The one thing that urks me just a little is the repeated use of the Great Taste Awards logo. It’s featured several times on the pack, and even embossed into the chocolate itself. In my opinion, it’s something that’s become overused lately, to the point where it’s fairly meaningless. To go as far as to emboss the Great Taste logo on the chocolate itself might be going a little far.
That said, I don’t think you’ll find a better quality / value balance in any other chocolate on the market today. And given that a quarter of what you pay goes straight to charity. I recommend popping into Demarquette’s shop in Chelsea or ordering a bar or four online through their web site. Do it now.