Marou Faiseurs de Chocolate, a Vietnamese artisanal chocolate company founded by two Frenchmen, creates exquisite bars in the 70-78% range. What makes them so marvelous? Everything. Their single-origin beans are grown and sourced locally by farmers who are paid a fair wage, with no middlemen. Even the cane sugar is from small Vietnamese farms.
There is a wonderful piece on their website detailing their philosophy on organic and fair trade that I heartily agree with. (Here’s the link: http://www.marouchocolate.com/?page_id=46 )
Let’s start with the packaging. The background color of each wrapper is inspired by the color of the cocoa pod the chocolate comes from. A silk-screened gold overlay, reminiscent of fin de siècle design, is just beautiful. No matter how great the chocolate, I find my anticipation is heightened with captivating packaging.
Upon opening the outer paper you find a gold foil inner liner sealed with an attractive “M” logo. Just one more example of their attention to detail I find noteworthy as it’s a harbinger of the Marou chocolate gestalt. In every aspect of manufacture, from sourcing the beans to final presentation, Samuel and Vincent share their vision for what a wonderful chocolate experience can be.
The glossy dark bars are scored into irregular funky shapes with that “M” set off in a square in the middle. The bar itself snaps to attention when broken as its perfect temper gives off a heady chocolate scent. All five varieties in their current range possess a deeply satisfying texture that has a chewiness I always find quite fetching.
The 100 gram bars range in cacao content by 2% increments from 70-78%.
Tien Giang starts this flight at 70%. Immensely complex, yet with gentle undertones, this bar, made with Trinitario beans, has a slightly spicy character and a bit of a dry finish.
Dong Nai, 72%, seemed creamier, had a subtler profile, and just a smidgeon of dryness to its finish.
Lam Dong, 74%, a rare chocolate made in mico-batches, was a little less complex with more memory of soil.
Ba Ria, 76%, is also made with Trinitario beans and tasted woodsy.
Ben Tre, 78%, seemed to incorporate many of the qualities of the previous four bars at once, though it was a bit more fruity, and had an earthier presence.
All five bars tasted different from other single-origin offerings I have sampled, and would make an exciting addition to a chocolate tasting.
Though the company is based in Ho Chi Minh City you can buy Marou from Dark Chocolate Imports: http://darkchocolateimports.com.