The second bar of Mast Brothers chocolate sent to me by the Chocolate Society has had a bit of a chequered past. Originally branded as ‘Dark Chocolate with Almonds & Sea Salt’ this bar has retained it’s distinctive anchor-themed outer wrapper and recipe – the only difference appears to be that the brothers have decided to play down the sea salt, presumably because they have launched a Maine Sea Salt bar.
The chocolate in this bar is a 73% cacao from the Dominican Republic and it’s a big flavoured, robust cacao with deep, dark undertones and a treacly, molasses-like sweeter top note. Looking back at the history of this bar, I discovered that the original version was an 81% cacao bar which used Madagascan cacao, so there’s obviously an ongoing refinement process which has resulted in the cacao of choice (and the percentage used) being changed over – presumably as the brothers discovered alternatives.
The almonds come from a farm in California and are roasted in olive oil before being added to the bar with a sprinkling of Maine sea salt. Bite down on a big chunk of almond and you can taste a hint of the olive oil as the nut reveals its flavours. The chocolate has the characteristic grainy texture I have come to expect from a Mast Bar and delivers bold, dark cacao flavours with high acidity.
It’s certainly not for the faint hearted – as the chocolate starts to melt that initial deep, treacly flavour gives way to more complex (but no less robust) dark, woody flavours. The almonds combine with the cacao to smooth things out a little, and that touch of sea salt helps to bring out some of the sweetness from the cane sugar.
As someone who is quite partial to high cacao content, bold flavoured chocolate I found myself really enjoying every chunk of this bar, but I can’t help thinking that it might be a bit much for some people (particularly those of you who may prefer milk chocolate!). It’s certainly a bar for the adventurous palate, and given that it costs about seven times as much as a ‘standard’ bar of chocolate it’s definitely something to savour over a few days!