At last year’s Salon du Chocolat in Paris I met up with Franck Morin, of Chocolaterie A. Morin, a French chocolatier from Donzère, who have been making their own chocolate from the bean for several generations
Morin are not exactly a household name in the UK, but their chocolate has recently made a splash here since they’ve been working with London chocolatier Marc DeMarquette. Morin are the chocolate maker behind Marc’s award winning Vietnam bar, which was launched last year in conjunction with UK aid charity, ActionAid. Marc worked with Franck to create the bar, and has since worked with him on a number of other origins, including a rather interesting Peru.
I had tried Morin’s chocolate, but not their filled creations. It was a pleasant surprise then when a box arrived just before Christmas last year. It seemed only fair to post a review, but somehow two thirds of 2011 has already vanished! So here then is a very late posting of my notes from the end of 2010.
Chocolate coated nougat
I’m not normally a nougat fan, having been brought up on the hard sticky-sweet stuff traditionally served in the UK. But as is often the case with well known and seemingly mundane foods, there’s often a little more depth and subtlty when you get to the quality end.
Cutting the Morin nougat and on the first bite it seems like it’s going to be quite hard, but the nougat quickly melts on the mouth. The aroma is of good fresh nuts,
As the nougat melts it gets sweeter, but not cloyingly so. The Morin chocolate coating adds a good compliment to the mix, but plays second fiddle to the nougat. After-taste is pleasant and clean.
Palet D’or praline
Most chocolatiers have a classic ‘Palet D’or’ in their collection, a usually round chocolate coated bonbon with a dash of gold leaf on the top. In this case, Morin have gone for a praline rather than ganache filling, with a very understated gold fleck. Praline could well be the traditional filling for a palet d’or in the area, but this is a first for me.
On cutting, there is a very good nut aroma. Eating reveals a rather sweet praline centre with a slight hint of the bitter taste of nut skins. The after taste is delicate, but somewhat sweet, with finally a little oil. The chocolate again is a good compliment, without its own outstanding flavour, but carries the filing very well. Very palatable, though on the sweet side.
A classic rocher has a soft gianduja nut praline centre, surrounded by chocolate enrobed nut slices, usually almonds. That’s the classic version anyway, but each chocolatier will have their own particular take. (Which is usually a million miles away from the famous confectionery version found on sale in gas station forecourts.)
The Morin version is really a normal sized bonbon with a dark gianduja filling, with nuts in the coating chocolate. Unusual, but here Morin’s own chocolate comes into play and this is a much less sweet offering than some others in the collection.
The cut aroma is very good chocolate and hazelnut. The filling is very fine and suitably soft.
There are just enough nuts in the enrobing chocolate to give a good crunch, so despite the larger centre, the effect is very good.
There’s just a slight bitterness in the after taste, but this is still one of the highlights of the collection.
Enrobed cherry in kirsch is something that’s plagued many a traditional English box. Usually, cloyingly sweet with a tasteless chewy cherry, wrapped in sweet, cheap chocolate, most likely with added vegetable fat and a bunch of preservatives.
It has to be said though, that with real pure kirsch, a quality cherry (watch out for the odd stone) and good chocolate, the result can be something quite different. Morin’s version sits squarely in this latter category. Good cherry flavour, good kirsch – sweet of course but this is balanced within the overall flavour and Morin’s own dark chocolate. The aftertaste is quite fine, with a slight salt.
Quite, quite edible. Perhaps I might change my mind about kirsch cherry.
Walnut coffee marzipan
A traditional combination that on the face of it sounds unlikely to work that well – coffee and walnut don’t necessarily spring to mind as ideal pairing.
The smell is really strong sweet coffee, and on biting the filling is very sweet too and somewhat grainy. This could have been quite disappointing, but the walnut on top is very good. It’s only when the walnut combines in the mouth with the coffee marzipan that this chocolate really starts to work. Perhaps too sweet in the mouth, it’s actually after eating that this offering seems most satisfying.
A gold paper foil wrapped truffle, with a cylinder shape and dusted with cocoa powder. The filling is a milky, sweet gianduja ganache with a very clean after taste. Not exactly what I’d think of as a truffle, but this works well in Morin’s traditional style.
For me this is where marzipan really starts to get interesting, the flavour of pistachio taking a sweet classic to another level. The Morin version is ground fairly roughly, with a delicate pistachio flavour, especially in the aftertaste. Nicely done, but again a little sweet.
Overall, a traditional collection done very well. There’s nothing modern or flashy here, just a quiet celebration of traditional craft, executed in a classy manner. While obviously geared towards more traditional, sweet tastes, this is not stuffy tourist fare, just gentle local quality.
Xoconuzco 70% – sample bar
Along with the Morin bonbon collection, an unbranded sample bar came in the pre-Christmas package from France. This is presumably an experimental bar or chocolate in development. As this does not appear to (yet) be availably commercially, I won’t add a formal review to the review section as yet, but instead here are a few quick thoughts.
Historically Soconusco was a satellite of the Aztec area of influence, extending through the modern state of Chiapas in the south of Mexico into Guatemala. Reputedly, it contained the personal cacao groves of Motecuhzoma, the famous and last-but-one – and ill-fated – ruler of the Aztecs.
Despite its history, Soconusco is not such an obvious source for fine cacao, as most of the ancient Mayan stock has been overplanted with inferior forastero hybrids. The region is now being rediscovered though, with many chocolate makers seeking out better cacao from the region – Bonnat and Askinosie being a few examples. It looks like Morin are soon to join this trend.
The bar has yellow fruits, plum and a touch of sulphur, with a prune and citrus ending. It’s one of the better Morin bars I’ve tried, with a more controlled roast that some other origins. It certainly shows the promise of this until now little known chocolate maker, whose reputation I suspect is about to extend outside of their historical regional French home.
Chocolaterie A. Morin
Tel: +33 (0)4 75 51 60 76
Fax: +33 (0)4 75 51 58 97
Email : email@example.com