This small farm is located in a nearlyimpossible defined back streetof vietnam’s rural mekong delta you kindof have a welcome drink for usthis land is the birthplace of some ofthe best cacaoin the world it’s not tea it’s notcoffee something mr laofound out just one year ago as far as iunderstand you’ve taken the cacao andyou’ve made it into kind of an alcoholis that rightfor a long time this time the whitishsubstance inside the cacao podsurrounding the seedsthis pulp used to be considered wastebut nowmr lau has found another use for it heextracts the juicesboils it with salt and sugar and addssome natural yeastallowing it to ferment for 90 daysoh that’s really goodit almost tastes like a flavored soju orsomething it’s a little sour a littlesweet certainly pretty acidic going downi did my heartburn i need a pepsi ac butotherwise that’s really good.
I’m curious how you got your start inchocolate how old were you when youfirst tried chocolate for the first timedo you remember oh my god stop staringat my teethmr lau started his cacao farm just 10 years agohe didn’t even know cacao could be grownin vietnam since he’s 10 years oldthere is an american soldier give himsome chocolate and some miloreally now he’s taking care of 400 cacaotreeseven intercropping with coconut treesoh it smells like here yeah chickenit’s chicken poopimported from belgium are you seriouscan we eat it rawyes oh oh oh the revealwhoa let’s try it out yeah let’s trycheers[Music]it’s sweet and sour on the outside i’mreally bitterin this region the best time to harvestcacao beans is from october to mayafter the pods are cracked open and theseeds expelled they must begin thefermentation process within six hourshow long does it have to ferment herefrom five to six days the chocolate thatwe’re going to be tasting later how isit affected by this fermentation processdepends on several aspects but if youover fermented it they don’t have thevery rich smellin the aromas of chocolate afterfermentation the beans are sun-dried forup to 10 days before.
They’re sent to thefactorythe flavor can vary from bean to bean oreven from batch to batchso how do you know if this bitter littlebean is gonna make some good chocolate oh that’s the second best high you cangetthat’s good meet vincent maru he andthis guysam maruta founded meru a dark chocolatemanufacturer that produces and sellsbean to bar products this is actually anamazing moment because these areessentially 100 fermented which isreally really difficult to do taste itfrom the beginningthese guys hunted down the best cacaovarieties throughout vietnamcreating six different recipes based offcacao in six different regions a littlebit sour a little sourness yeahrich nutty enjoyable bitterness a bit ofvanilla in mine their subjectivity butalsoeach one is a bit different these cacaobeans right here i’ve heard these areamong some of the top rated in the worldbut how does that come to bebecause he was already doing goodquality cacao but it wasn’t recognizedso we met mr lao and he was excitedbecause.
We were actually making aproduct that he could tastewe sent some samples last year to thethe world’s largest chocolate show andso he came with us to paris not knowingthat he would eventually become one ofthewinners considered one of the top 15cacao fermentersin the world so this is a special cacaoset me free next these processed beansmake a three hour journey to the baruchfactory in the bustling city of saigon how do you transport this chocolate invietnam this country is so hotthe number one challenge is the heat sowe have refrigerated trucks that comehere we are very careful with theshippingthis factory produces over 20 differentchocolate products we can make15 tons a month metric tons are inmexicothe cow was being exported and it wasnever being seen so it just neededsomeone totake another look at it.
I’m assuming youcome from a long lineage of chocolatemakersyes absolutely notmy business partner and i when wecreated maru one of the most excitingthings is we had so much to learnbecause we were not from chop we movedacross the countrywe made chocolate in this kitchen and weused an oven we used a blenderthe beans that we tasted that night andas chocolate lovers we had never tastedanything like it convinceus to go into chocolate step oneroasting the beans go straight from thewarehouse through a pipelineto this roasting machine it’s the samemachine as a coffee roasterit’s just that it’s been modified forcacao inside a spinning drum keeps thebeans moving while hot air circulatesthroughthis process is known as convectionheating after roasting the beans must bequickly cooled so they don’t continue to cookwe need to cool it as quickly aspossible this is crucial for developingthe chocolate notes step 2 cracking andwinnowingthis machine’s job is to separate theshell and the nibs cacao nibs are thecrushed bits of cacao beaninside.
The shell the shells are quicklybroken into pieceswhile the nibs are separated and sortedinto these bucketssince the shells are lighter the machinesimply blows them awaythe shells are sent back to the farmersto use as mulchbut the nibs are categorized intodifferent sizes yeah because that makesit more efficient to separate but arebig nibs used for anything differentthan small nibs no absolutely not it’sthe samematerial step 3 grinding these heavyrolling stones grind the nibs whilegenerating friction thus releasing cacaobuttercreating a thick liquidy consistencywithin three hours[Music]from here if you want cacao powder andcacao butter the liquid cacao can bepressed to separate each material whatare some other ingredients that you’reusing a lot of cacao is our mainingredient because we make a darkchocolate which hassugar 20 to 30 is added to the cacao tomake our chocolatestep 4 tempering and molding is thislike you would temper an old samuraisword yeah essentiallywe’re tempering chocolate like a samuraisword.
Where we’re using temperature tohardenthis liquid chocolate mixture is heatedto a temperature of 122 degreesthen cooled to just under 86 degreesthen it’s increased slightly once moreso it can be applied to the moldscacao butter takes on six differentcrystal shapesbased on temperature so we know at acertain temperature we’re gonna get atype five crystal and sowhen we see a nice shiny chocolate weknow it’s well temperedafter molding the bars head through acooling tunnelthe finished bars head to the packagingroom where the bars are weighed andwrapped in the appropriate packagingoh this is great really incredible tosee how it’s made i think it was alwayskind of a mystery to me i knew beanswere involved that’s about all i knewbut to see the transformation it makesme appreciate chocolate so much moreit’s so extraordinary for such a naturalseemingly simpleproduct but there’s so much that goesinto it that you might not ever guessso there is a magical quality to cacaointo chocolate there are very fewother things on this planet that make somany peopleexcited.
I can only think of one cheesereally about 20of these products are exported while therest are sold here in vietnam much of itmakes its way to my son maru theirflagship storewe’ve made it to the chapel it should bemr lau has made the three-hourtrek from his farm just to join us butfirst i need to finally get a taste ofthe chocolate beautiesi’ve been staring at all day okay so thefirst thing is tosmell itthere you go give it a smell and thenthe color the textureand then you bite into it but don’tchomp on it and just let the aromas kindof fill your palatedark chocolate can be choppy it can lackthat softnessthat tenderness and so this has all thebest parts of dark chocolate while stillbeingmoist at the end of the notes i feelsome sour there’s a bit of spiceright dry tropical fruit so we haveanother region herethis is lamdong province known mostlyfor its coffee it looks exactly the sameit smells lighter yep not as fragrantit contain coconut right you’re rightthere’s a little bit of coconut taken ishould say somethingi think the average person would not beable to tell a huge difference okay butfor mewho is also an average person maybe goback to the tinymore friendly definitely more sour itaste that now almost metallicno.
I mean not that the more you takesome time with it then you noticethe differences if you just chompthrough it which is my habitmason maru is more than a shop sellingsweets it’s an immersive confectionarymagic carpet ridethey’ve got it all from chocolate barsto inventive pastriesshe’s my lover chef chef chefchef chef pastry chef pastry chef pastrychefstephanie yes this looks gorgeousthis is a mesomaru tiramisu this isstephanieshe worked three years as a pastry chefin a three-star michelin ratedrestaurant in londonnow she’s here developing new dessertsbut even moredeveloping a new generation of highlyskilled pastry badasseswow such a satisfying experience supercreamy just a touch of you knowchocolate and coffeeare kind of best friends they’re meantto be together they’re in the bean gangvietnamese coffeefrom it’s tender medium rarestephanie will be whipping up threedifferent desserts even thoughlao makes a significant contribution tothe flavors of this placehe’s yet to try any of the items hittingour tabletoday.
Oh there he ishe’s coming please thank you guyshave you been in this shop before ohyeah first time we’ve been here welllet’s dig in this is the moose righthereit’s very creative first up mug moosethe mug is made of a soft chocolatecookie on the insideshortbread and chocolate mousse sprinklein cashew nut and cacao nibsadd caramel and sweet whipped cream thentop it with cashew powder and morechocolate nibson the side icing sugar sprinkled onchocolate shortbreadum you ruined the cake i ruined it butmy bite looks fantastic are you ready weall have the perfect bite let’s go forit bowl hi bye yoboom[Music]wow it’s like the chocolate bar in mooseform so it’s sosoft airy creamy but it has all thosecomplex notes that you taste in his barshe also feel really happy when havingthose piesyou have such a special role in thiswhole chocolate making processfor you what is it like seeing the finalproductvery happy and proud when seeing his catcow material had a very beautifuldisplaybeautiful packaging and make those verydelicious cake let’s move on to our nextdessertright.
Here sir it’s called the classicopera[Music]the classic opera has multiple layers ofbiscuit jaconand coffee ganache a mixture of creamand chocolateit has some cookies on top are thesecookies these are little macaroonssweet spongy cake nice layers that kindof break apart in a very pleasing wayin your mouth i love bothyeah yeah this here is the chocolatetart take a look it starts with ashortbread tart shella mix of chocolate biscuits andchocolate ganache add chocolatechantilly and cashew nutfinally mini brownies with icing sugaron top ohand a little hat why not more of like the dark chocolate feelingsweetness mixed with bitterness creamynice crust oh this is so much sweet i’mgonna have a heart attack after thisbesides the bitterness of the chocolateit has some saltytaste in it so he prefer this onethese days i’m curious what motivatesyou to get up to get out there and tokeepimproving your craft each daywhen he was a high school student he hashis mentortalk to him when you do anything youmust do it passionatelysince then he’s always kept update.
With the new thing try to adapt to the newworld ohdogs is the same thing with fish and forthose cacaopartially is financial things supporthis familyand another thing is his passion aboutthe cacao growing um the cacao thathelped other farmers toohelps other farmers his family is theone that collects cacao from otherfarmers in his provincethank you for taking the long ride allthe way up here just so we could eatdessert togetherfor me absolutely worth it it was anhonor to get to learn more about yourlife and your workand then to try the end product with youin person like thisthank you so muchfor me this was always something i tookfor grantedi am in awe of its complexity someonelong agofigured out that this bitter bean mustbe picked fermentedground and mixed with sugar in order tomake what is now the most commonly eatensweet around the globethe fact that these days anyone fromjust about any country.