Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mast Brothers: Almonds, Sea Salt, Olive Oil


What a beauty -- and made in Brooklyn! This bar, along with two other Mast Brothers bars, was given to me by my intuitive cousin just a week or so after I had admired it at the Murray's Cheese counter in Grand Central. Of course chocolate bars should be wrapped in gorgeous paper with fleurs de lis and anchors and leaves -- what is everyone else thinking? Mast Brothers consists of two brothers -- one of whom worked at Gramercy Tavern and at Jacques Torres's Manhattan factory. They make chocolate in Williamsburg. No surprise there.

Mast Brothers: Almonds, Sea Salt, Olive Oil
Cocoa content: 81%
Notable ingredients: almonds, sea salt, olive oil
Origin: Dominican Republic

Mast Brothers don't want you to think their chocolate is factory-made -- nor do they want you to consider the location of their (let's be honest) factory to be near the East River; they prefer "handmade in delicate batches" and "Brooklyn Channel," respectively. Also, they are one of the dozen companies that claim to be the only bean-to-bar chocolate maker in New York and they're starting a "chocolate revolution." They sell their bars at places like the Brooklyn Flea and Marlow & Sons and Spuytin Duyvil. The brothers travel around the world collecting cocoa beans.

The brothers are pretty serious about reminding you that each bar is personally handcrafted by one of them -- the bar's date of birth is even printed on the back label (mine was 3/24/2010.) For all the slow food branding it should be really, really special. And in a lot of ways, it was. The salt was effective and texturally interesting but not overwhelming, and the almonds were nicely crunchy and liberally distributed on the bottom surface of the bar. Olive oil was a good idea but I'm not sure it's really doing anything here -- salt and nuts can stand out in a bar of 81% chocolate, but most other flavors would get lost. The chocolate itself certainly tastes like a single origin and has a much better snap than most. It was intensely dark and muddy -- normally a higher percentage than I enjoy, but the salt really brightened every taste.

Mostly, the packaging is gorgeous and the bar truly looks like it was handmade by the very brother who scavenged the Dominican rainforest to bring home beans to his other brother. I look forward to trying the 72% single origin and the cocoa nib bar. This one gets a B+.

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