Monday, October 29, 2012

Mast Brothers: Black Truffle

This was probably the most expensive chocolate bar I've ever enjoyed, at $14. Its provenance warrants the price tag: this is a candy bar born of a marriage between three heretofore non-consensual parties, hailing all from different continents. They are:

1.)  74% cacao from the Dominican Republic, concocted in as pure a manner as possible, with just a bit of cane sugar and no milk fat or cocoa butter, and left to sit for a month before the final melting so that its full flavors can emerge.

2.) A subterranean mushroom, sprouted from a spore transported by a fungivorous ground animal and harvested from the forests of Italy.

3.) Sea salt from coastal Maine.

And never the twain shall meet, until they got mixed up together in an artisanal chocolate factory near the Williamsburg waterfront. The Mast Brothers have said that they don't "dumb down" their chocolate, by which they mean they leave out those fatty emulsifiers that most purveyors incorporate to make chocolate more user-friendly. I sometimes find that this approach results in a product that's just no fun -- one made with more attention to process and presentation than deliciousness. Eating chocolate is not supposed to be a chore, nor a history lesson, nor a geography lesson, nor a reverent nod to oldey-timey crafts.

This bar didn't quite work for me, but not for lack of fun -- it was decadent, unusual, and disorienting, and an interesting experience well worth the price tag. But when you don't "dumb down" chocolate, its boldness conquers everything in its path, and butts heads unsuccessfully with equally all-consuming flavors like the black truffle. Sometimes, excess layered upon excess works. But sometimes, it backfires in messy self-destruction. It calls to mind: "before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory."

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