Blocks of chocolate made from raw cacao beans by Pierre Marcolini are then transformed into the exquisitely beautiful—and exquisitely delicious—bars below. Photography courtesy of Pierre Marcolini.
PETER ROT was first schooled in chocolate by his German mother. After an epiphanic taste of Valrhona Le Noir Amer 71%, his passion for chocolate became a full-fledged scholarly pursuit. Peter is a moderator of a discussion forum of international chocolate connoisseurs and a reviewer for the international chocolate community. He is pursuing a graduate degree in the cultural significance of food.
Updated July 2009
A Trip With Pierre Marcolini
Go “Bar Hopping” With The Master Belgian Chocolatier
Page 3: Madagascar, Equateur & Fleur De Cacao Chocolate Bars
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Day 4: Madagascar Chocolate Bar
Today is Madagascar’s turn. The 72% bar’s color is lighter brown with a bright orange tint, which is fairly common for a Madagascar. The aroma is tart, with scents of spice and coffee, both of which is underscored by a cedar woodiness; which is fairly uncommon for a Madagascar. Snap is, as usual, crisp and clean. When I put it in my mouth, a very faint vodka flavor emerges immediately and is quickly followed by an interesting spiciness accompanied by a cool orange sharpness. All this is underscored by a cedar-like woodiness, then a very slight vanilla tone pops in about halfway through, and these flavors persist throughout the length until they decline into dry cocoa with traces of very mild coffee. The finish is clean with lingering flavors of cocoa and orange with a cheese-like sourness. The texture is quite smooth, being neither pasty nor thick. Also, the chocolate wasn’t as tart as other Madagascar chocolate; but rather the citrus was fairly mild and pleasant instead of dominating and assertive. The spiciness and cedar woodiness were fairly unusual for a Madagascar chocolate, but these flavors complemented the orange tartness rather well. It was quite a nice and pleasant change from the norm, and indeed it’s an all-around good Madagascar bar. Fresh, slightly tart, and spicily wood, this bar offers a decent chocolate strength but remains more on the finesse side. Indeed, it’s an interesting trip through Madagascar.
Madagascar Bar Summary: Light, soothing, mild, and easy to eat. Delicate in the mouth without the tartness common to most Madagascar bars. A spicy orange sharpness with an interesting woodiness.
Day 5: Equateur Chocolate Bar
I just opened the Equateur (Ecuador) 72% bar, and the aroma is wonderful: strong scents of coffee, cocoa, and hazelnuts. Its color is dark brown accented by maroon and purple tints. The snap is clean, with a sharp sound. After putting some in my mouth, I immediately taste a robustly dark and almost sweet tone. A pure cocoa tone emerges with hints of mild molasses and brown sugar. This is a very straightforward cocoa flavor without much variation, but it also has a tropical feel to it, an interesting and very subtle character. These flavors last throughout the entire length, offering no change in variation. The texture is smooth with a slight pastiness but still enjoyable nonetheless. Hearty and robust, yet calm and relaxing. The sheer non-complexity of this chocolate invites you to embrace the darker tones it possesses. No bitterness whatsoever, with a very clean and pleasant tasting finish. It’s not as assertive or complex as the Venezuela, its neighbor to the north; but the tone is just as dark. The flavors are actually quite mild and gracious on the palate but also very straightforwardly dark and robustly defined. It’s an extremely approachable chocolate, one that leans to the dark side of the spectrum. Dark, round, and pleasant, this is a very one-sided chocolate that is sure to please anyone seeking a deep chocolate experience with a solid and round flavor of pure cacao, undistracted by other flavor complexities.
Equateur Bar Summary: Dark, round, and non-challenging. Hearty and robust, yet calm and relaxing. Flavors of pure cacao with slight caramelized tones that are easy on the palate, yet strong enough to convey its dark essence.
Day 6: Fleur de Cacao Chocolate Bar
As we speak, I am opening the Fleur de Cacao 85% bar, a blend of cacaos from prime growing regions. The aroma escapes the wrapper and overwhelms me with its sweet tone of cinnamon, cocoa, and vanilla underscored by mild wood tones and slightly tart fruity peaks. The color is light for a chocolate of this class: medium brown hue with light orange tints. Another clean snap. Now for the moment of truth: into the mouth it goes. The flavors immediately flow in, with a strong hint of sweet butter. Then an overall milk chocolate tone develops accented by a hint of sweet cinnamon. This flavor persists throughout the entire length with a slight tartness peeking in ever so quietly towards the end. The overall flavor is so mild and reserved and hides underneath the milk chocolate mirage of the chocolate. The length ends with mild cocoa and a slight coffee touch and slips into a milky finish of sour dairy. Texture is slightly thick, but it still possesses a milky creaminess that further adds to the milk chocolate delusion. Wow! Is this an 85% chocolate? It’s hard to believe. It tastes exactly like a dark-milk chocolate, i.e. a high cocoa content milk chocolate. However, it’s not necessarily “sweet,” per se; but rather, the mild and gentle nature of the chocolate might convey that impression. It still possesses a dark tone—one that is still indicative of a high cocoa content chocolate. This is by far the most palatable 80%-class chocolate I have ever tried; and indeed, this should appeal to anyone who likes milk chocolate or even sweeter dark chocolate. Strong in overall flavor, yet mild and reserved, this chocolate is a definite crowd pleaser.
Fleur de Cacao Bar Summary: Strong in overall flavor, yet mild and reserved in strength. An extremely approachable chocolate that delivers great flavor and a mild richness uncommon for its class.
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