If you read my recent post about Michel Roux Jr’s recent BBC Programme Chocolate Perfection, you’ll know that I wasn’t altogether happy with the way he completely dismissed British (and international) chocolate makers and chocolatiers, depicting French makers as the best in the world.
As part of the show, Roux visited Cacao Barry’s Or Noir lab, an impressive facility that allows chocolatiers to create unique chocolates that fit their own specific flavour requirements.
By combining cocoa mass samples from origins around the world, Or Noir can create a chocolate with practically any flavour profile. It’s an exciting idea and a place I would love to visit, but there is a part of me that thinks this is quite far away from the more natural process that modern bean-to-bar artisans use when they create chocolate.
I’m used to makers that will search the world for the best beans, treat them with care and coax the best possible flavours from a single origin. But I’m sure there is a place for both approaches and I was interested to try the chocolate Roux created.
Lucky for me, my friend Zoe was sent some samples and shared this small (13g) bar with me.
Roux was apparently going for a chocolate with a slight bitterness, a cocoa flavour and a hint of fruitiness with this chocolate. The skeptic in me thinks that he could have just grabbed a random supermarket brand off the shelf to fit that brief, but in actual fact, this 71% chocolate does match the description quite well.
The texture is smooth and slightly soft suggesting a high cocoa butter content, and has an initial bitterness that slowly gives way to more of a cocoa powder flavour. The fruitiness is very subtle, but is there. Overall, the flavour is pleasant, but this is certainly not a bar of chocolate I would go out and buy.
With those strong cocoa notes, I suspect it would make a great chocolate for baking, or even a couverture for filled chocolates – providing the fillings had interesting flavours of their own. Indeed on the show, Roux cooked with the chocolate rather than simply eating it in bar format.
While there’s nothing wrong with it as a chocolate, it’s just not very interesting. What I can’t say is if that’s down to Roux’s personal tastes or the Or Noir process. And I think the only real way to know that would be to visit Or Noir and make my own chocolate!