How could I possibly resist a chocolate bar called "Fleur de Cacao"?? Plus the fact that it comes packaged in a jet-black box, and I'm sold. I am a sucker for sexy packaging and a good name. This is another Belgian Marcolini bar. These bars come as a block of 9 squares: each square has a letter on it, and since there are exactly nine of them, they spell Marcolini. I have eaten the M-A-R-C so far.
This bar also begins with an almond-like flavor. I think I have figured it out: Tahitian vanilla. I don't know anything about Tahitian vanilla, being a Bourbon fan myself, but because its presence is announced proudly on the ingredients list I'm willing to bet that that is the source of the sweet, almond-like essence that takes over your mouth right from the get-go. This bar is not bright and acidic like the other Marcolini-Alto Piura. But it is really sweet. On the face of the packaging it says:"Mariage de la Puissance des Cacaos Rebelles d'Afrique et de la Subtilite de ceux d'Amerique Latine". Roughly translated this means: "A Marriage Between the Power of Robust Cocoas from Africa and the Subtlety of those from Latin America". In other words, this bar is made from a blend of African foresterro beans and some others, most likely trinitarios from Dominican Republic.
I prefer this bar over the Alto Piura because it doesn't have that acidity thing going on. This is more of a dark roast chocolate flavor, but the sweetness of it reminds me of 70% bars, not 85%. I keep checking and rechecking the package, and it keeps saying the same thing: 85%. If you are trying to watch your sugar intake, these may not be the best bars, because I swear they are loaded with sugar. If on the other hand, you would like to enjoy chocolate with higher cocoa content but just can't seem to get past 75%, this is the bar for you. You will never know you are eating 85%!
My gut feeling about this bar is that you are paying a premium for fancy packaging and wording but receiving mediocre chocolate in return. African foresterro is just so-so. Foresterro is the cacao hybrid that is the heartiest and most disease resistant. It grows in any tropical climate. But the price of a well adjusted tree is often a fruit that lacks much interest. Most chocolate makers will receive huge batches of foresterro beans that are a mix from many different plantations and are of dubious quality, one load from the next. The Latin American beans are probably trinitario beans, a foresterro-criollo hybrid, from multiple plantations. The problem with huge loads of mixed beans is that you never know what you are really getting. The job of the chocolatier is to figure out how to make the most of it. The Tahitian vanilla may lend it that "fleur" quality, I suppose, and the sugar disguises any off-tastes. (Boy, I really have become a chocolate snob, haven't I?) Truth be told, I will usually eat just about any chocolate, even if I don't give it great reviews. So this is a perfectly fine chocolate to eat, but you can get the same thing for a lot less, minus the fancy packaging and the marriage of power and subtlety.
If I could rebuild this chocolate, I would replace the Tahitian vanilla with Madagascar Bourbon vanilla (in keeping with the Africa theme, if you will) and adjust the sugar downwards a notch or two. On the other hand, if that almond-like flavor is indeed coming from the Tahitian vanilla, lots of fun could be had with it, like mixing it with milk chocolate and gently roasted almonds perhaps. But as usual, I digress.