Maps amaze me as much as chocolate. Whenever I find out where cocoa is grown I instantly load it up in Google maps and look at the geography, the terrain and how it sits amongst neighbouring conurbations. As the map of Tan Phu Dong, where the cocoa used in this new chocolate bar by Marou originates, I was stunned. I’m just so used to cacao growing in lofty elevations – usually in nice valleys gently working their way into oceans, or wild places barely touched by human hands – not on a a long, thin island with cacao trees growing just above the high water mark of the Mekong Delta.
I don’t know if the cocoa was grown by the Cho Gao Cocoa Co-operative, which seems to stretch onto the Island, but the packaging does state that small family-owned farms were the source. What is of primary interest for me is how the unusual geography affects the flavour. Both Ben Tre and Tiền Giang (other Marou origins) are also located on the delta and exposed to the vagaries of coastal weather, the sheer isolation and of Tan Phu Dong must mean the salinity of the tidal coastline must affect the cacao – especially as it seems the island is a sedimentary deposit.
Despite the origin of the chocolate being so unique. Alas it seems I’ve tasted this chocolate before – and recently. I’m often one for saying “I know that chocolate”, but can never place it. And to test the theory, I’ve opened up a Pralus Chuao 75% – and this is where I prove myself wrong. It’s amazing how you associate a chocolate with a flavour profile it just doesn’t have.
The aroma of the Marou is definitively rolling tobacco. It’s so distinctly floral that I just can’t believe any other chocolate comes anywhere close to this. If I could walk around all day with this chocolate held an inch from my nose I would be very happy. There’s very little acidity, just heaps of dried flowers, tobacco and laterally licorice. Bliss.
Of course that left me with testing the flavour. You just have to sum this chocolate as ‘creamy’. It’s as smooth as the proverbial baby’s bottom. There are light notes of hazelnut and almond and just the slightest edge of salinity. It appears also that this chocolate also had a long roast to bring out heaps of tanginess, but still a huge amount less than the Pralus Chuao – that is, to me at least, the definitive “high roast” chocolate.
The melt with the Marou is lenghty and rewarding. The urge is to chew, but you most definitely will miss out on the spread and variety of flavours. They don’t change radically but gently change form – just as the rolling mist you see in the British countryside.
This chocolate is enjoyable – much so – and should be tried, but I do think I prefer the Tiền Giang 80%. However, you will be able to buy it on Sunday evening here. Or at Salon du Chocolat direct from Marou this Friday through Sunday.