Vietcacao is a French project which aims to develop and grow sustainable cacao production in the Bến Tre region of Vietnam. The Vietcacao team collaborate directly with the local farmers and community in Vietnam, cutting out the middlemen and ensuring that growers benefit directly from their crops. This not only means a better deal for everyone, but also that they can control how the beans are treated at every stage of the process.
Once harvested, the beans are taken to the south of France, where they’re magically turned into chocolate in Franck Morin’s factory. There’s a number of bars in the range, and I’m starting off by taking a look at two flavoured chocolates; a dark chocolate with peppermint and a milk chocolate with cashew and cinnamon.
Opening the mint bar, you’re immediately greeted by the strong aroma of fresh mint. I confess to being a little unsure of this, as I’m not the world’s greatest mint chocolate fan. It’s quite difficult to balance such a strong flavour without entirely overwhelming the chocolate.
The bar itself is dark and glossy and has a good snap. Bite into a piece, then let it melt on the tongue, and your mouth is quickly filled with a fresh, natural mint flavour. This is something a little different from the average mint chocolate, as it actually tastes of fresh mint.
But most interestingly, you can still taste the actual chocolate. After a few moments of intense, minty freshness, the natural flavour notes in the chocolate start to come through. It’s sweet, fruity, and really very pleasant indeed. It’s a flavour combination that works surprisingly well.
The milk chocolate is much softer, with no real snap. Scattered throughout the chocolate are tiny pieces of cashew, which add as much to the texture of the chocolate as they do to the flavour. The cinnamon turns out to be barely noticeable at all. The milk chocolate itself is delicious and creamy, but the added flavours don’t shine through quite as much as I would like. It’s still a great bar, but I actually prefer the mint and dark chocolate. Quite the opposite of what I was expecting.
The Vietcacao bars are still a bit difficult to get hold of outside of France, but if you do spot them, I recommend giving them a go. I’d also recommend trying the non-flavoured versions, as the Vietnamese chocolate is really something quite special in its own right.