When you think of chocolate producing countries, Vietnam may not be the first place that comes to mind, but it’s rapidly establishing a name for itself in the world of fine chocolate.
My first introduction to Vietnamese cacao was two years ago when I reviewed Demarquette’s Ben Tre bars. These bars were made for Demarquette by chocolate maker Franck Morin, who is now producing a range of Vietnamese chocolates under the Vietcacao name.
Last year I started hearing people talking about a new name in Vietnamese chocolate; Marou Chocolat. Two French guys who were actually making chocolate from the bean locally in Saigon. I was intrigued and had to find out more.
Earlier this month at Salon du Chocolat in Paris, I got to try Marou’s Vietnamese chocolate for the first time and also had a chance to meet the men responsible for these gorgeous looking bars. Samuel Maruta and Vincent Mourou (hence ‘Marou’ name), started making chocolate more or less by accident.
After visiting a cocoa plantation and retuning with some beans, they decided to have a go at making chocolate themselves using instructions downloaded from the internet. Needless to say, the first attempts didn’t go particularly well, but with more research, practice, and investing in some locally built machinery, just a short time later they’re producing chocolate to rival the best in the world.
Samuel and Vincent source their beans from different regions across the country. Each region produces its own bar, and each one has a different cacao percentage, chosen to suit the particular flavour characteristics of the different beans.
As you might have guessed, this particular bar is made from beans from the Tiền Giang province in southern Vietnam.
Everything about this bar is an experience. Inside the thick, beautifully printed paper wrapper the chocolate is covered in a simple and elegant gold foil. Open it up and you’re greeted with a deliciously warm and spicy aroma.
It looks as good as it smells too, with a very pretty diamond pattern and the Marou logo embossed into the bar. It almost seems a shame to break into it.
The flavour is rich and dark, making the bar seem a little stronger than 70% cocoa solids. Those warm spices are also there in the flavour, along with a sweet fruitiness. The tasting notes on the wrapper also mention honey, but that’s quite a subtle note in this robust bar.
I love this chocolate. It’s the kind of bar where you just need a small piece, let it melt slowly and experience the flavours. But to get a real flavour of Vietnam, I recommend picking up a few of the other bars in the range and tasting them together. You’ll be amazed at the variety of flavours that can come from the beans of just one country.
Marou chocolate can be found in Monmouth Coffee in Monmouth Street, London and a number of other locations around the world. See the Marou website to find your local retailer.