It seems years since I first reviewed one of Marc Demarquette’s chocolate bars. Even though I absolutely adore his filled chocolates such as the Royal Marina ganaches, I do have a noticeable soft-spot for his bars. One thing that has always distracted from the enjoyment has been their very basic packaging and presentation that did nothing to indicate the beauty contained within. That has all changed, however, with Marc’s new range.
In this new collection you’ll find five bars with much more engaging and informative packaging. But it’s not only the presentation that sets them apart from the old, it’s also the size. Perhaps those entering his store, and his alternative would be inclined to try a greater variety of flavours and compare because you can now buy these chocolate bars in a much more slight and manageable 22g format. I know first-hand that some people do love to buy dozens of the one chocolate bar, if they love the flavour they’ll “fill their boots”, but if this new format encourages people to experiment and savour chocolate, then I’m all for it.
Completely at random I first tried the CacaoLux House bar which is a 71.1% blend of beans from three different origins: Dominican Republic, Ecuador and Madagascar. For me, blended chocolate should fully test the knowledge and experience of a chocolatier as it is their insight that should work towards producing a bar that plays on the differing flavour profiles that compliment rather than distract from each other. And I most certainly found that in this bar. There was certainly dryness to it, but that was combined with a very interesting spicy horseradish edge that seemed to dominate the melt. Ultimately it’s very smooth and mellow, but that spiciness peaks out and offers a profile that I’ve rarely witnessed before.
The next was the 71.1% CacaoLux with Halon Mon Sea Salt in addition to the blend above. As soon as your tongue meets the bar it will be hit by the sea salt. Marc certainly hasn’t been shy with it, but it does dissipate and soften as the melt continues. As the chocolate melts into nothing there is a lingering sharp flavour that is actually very welcoming. I’m in two minds if I prefer this 3 star Great Taste award winning blend with or without the salt; I suppose it’ll change depending on the weather and my mood. At least it has an interesting twist on sea salt rather than being the usual fine Maldon sea salt.
I’ve always been a fan of Ben Tre and Marc’s version in particular and on recent evidence I seem no need to change my view. How much skill has been employed in putting a twist into it is unclear as I have no other Ben Tre to directly compare, but in isolation, I love it. The cedar wood piquancy lurks at the front of the tongue and pushes outwards omitting a fascinating almond-like flavour that contrasts wonderfully with the typical Ben Tre acidity. But, interestingly, this almond flavour leads you into a creamy post-melt which is very strange given that it’s a 70%, I would expect this to be exhibited more in the 40% version which followed.
If you wanted luxurious milkiness with just a touch of fine acidity then I implore you to try this 40% bar. It’s very much like a bowl of mango, banana and any other mild fruits you can think of. What’s more, it’s incredibly addictive and leaves me thinking that if only all Christmas gifts, such as advent calendars that use poor quality milk chocolate, used Marc’s 40% bar then I’m sure they’d be much more enjoyable. The balance between the creaminess and the slightest hint of acidity is most welcome and expertly balanced.
As day turns into night, I move onto the bitter 85% bar which is a house blend of unknown origins and certainly packs a punch. The acidity is fierce and long-lasting – but ultimately very pleasant. I actually prefer the 71.1% house blend, but this much darker version certainly has its place in the overall selection of bars which wouldn’t be complete without a milk and high-cocoa bar.
I did love all the different origins that Marc produced chocolate from, as I enjoyed poking around the selections in his store and finding new and interesting blends and origins. Hopefully, as time goes by, we’ll be offered up a greater variety and give his fans the opportunity to explore the world vicariously through chocolate.