Friday, February 20, 2015

Vietnam: A Trending Chocolate Origin

Chocolate made from Vietnamese cacao is clearly one of the 'trending' origin chocolates worldwide. Leading this trend was Marou, a chocolate-making team of French men living in Vietnam, who use cacao grown within that country to produce award-winning chocolate bars from bean to bar (see a previous article on Marou here). Marou's chocolate is very well made and it highlights the flavour profiles of various cacao-growing regions of Vietnam. And now, it seems that more and more craft, bean-to-bar chocolate makers are using Vietnamese cacao to make single origin bars.

Two of these producers are Palette de Bine, a Quebec-based craft chocolate maker, and ERITHAJ Chocolat, a French chocolate maker that sources beans from their own farms in Vietnam, but ultimately makes their chocolate in France. I purchased chocolate bars from both producers to see how they tasted, and to better understand the flavours of Vietnamese cacao.

Palette de Bine's Lam Dong Vietnam 72% chocolate bar is a very bold flavour combination containing fruity, blackberry and tart berry flavour, yet also woody and earthy. There is a nice mild acidity and a slight chalkiness, but so slight that it is not noticeable with every tasting. Regardless, I found it so complex and interesting that I kept going back for more.

Although the chocolate might benefit from added cocoa butter, the chocolate maker is committed to sticking with only two ingredients: cocoa beans and sugar. This commitment is commendable in this day and age of commercial producers adding artificial and unnecessary ingredients to chocolate. 

ERITHAJ's Ba Lai Chocolat Noir Vietnam 74% chocolate bar also has very bold blackberry flavour, and a red grape flavour (a bit like a fruity wine), but it is acidic and has citrus undertones.

ERITHAJ also makes a Vietnamese-origin Dark Milk chocolate bar called Mo Cay with 58% cocoa solids. An intense sour cream flavour is noticeable at first taste, with high acidity and possibly a little tobacco and spice. Like the 74%, it is not super-smooth in texture, but still a fine chocolate.

If you are looking to experience Vietnamese-origin chocolate for yourself, ERITHAJ's and Palette de Bine's chocolate bars, plus several of Marou's, can be purchased online at: www.latablette.ca.  You can learn more about France-based ERITHAJ online here, and about Quebec-based Palette de Bine here.

Aside from Marou and the two mentioned above, here are some other producers that are making chocolate from Vietnamese cacao:
  • Belcolade, a Belgian chocolate couverture producer, is now offering a Vietnam-origin chocolate with 73% cocoa solids from Trinitario beans, which is said to have a strong, acidic cocoa flavour, also with citrus, tobacco and woody flavours. (ref) View on the Belcolade site: http://belcolade.sitepreview.nu/def/en/product-range/origins/dark/vietnam-73
  • Chocolaterie A. Morin, a French chocolate maker, makes a Vietnam 48% Milk Chocolate bar.  In the U.K., find it on the CocoaRunners website here
  • Hotel Chocolat makes an 80% dark Vietnam origin chocolate from Trinitario cacao (find it here).
If you know of any other fine chocolate makers that are working with cacao from Vietnam, let us know in the Comments below! And what do you think of the flavor of chocolate made from Vietnamese cacao? Is it fruity, acidic, and citrusy with some woody and tobacco flavors, as I have indicated above, and as Belcolade has described their product? Or do you taste something else in single origin Vietnam chocolate? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

3 comments:

  1. In addition to Marou here are some other Vietnam bars that I've reviewed:
    Artisan du Chocolat- Vietnam
    Grand Place- Origine
    Scharffen Berger- Bến Tre
    Vietcacao- Mo Cay

    Of these the Scharffen Berger- Bến Tre was my favorite.
    Some were below average, so I wouldn't recommend them..

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    1. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! It's great to add to the list and learn of more I should try (thanks particularly for the tip on Scharffen Berger). Now onto seeing if I can get any of them sent to me on this darn Island....

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