When Dom reviewed the first Mast Brothers bar I felt a genuine pang of envy. Seriously. When I read the review I immediately lusted for a taste of this wondrous chocolate that those bearded brothers were bringing to life in Brooklyn. You can imagine my delight when the Chocolate Society sent me a bar in a sample pack a couple of weeks ago. Mast at last! Joy!
Now, I don’t know how common this is, but when I get my hands on something that I know is a bit special, be it chocolate, wine or a certain food, I sometimes find myself putting off getting stuck into it. This is particularly true when it comes to chocolate tasting – I want my palate to be completely untainted, for my senses of smell and taste to be at their peak. Winter colds and spicy foods, plus a lack of time, meant that I walked past this bar at least twice a day. That distinctive blue wrapper, reminiscent of William Morris wallpapers, kept popping into view, until I finally decided it was the right time for the first taste.
One thing has to be said about this chocolate. It’s pretty much as pure as it gets without actually being 100% cacao. Most chocolate has four ingredients, confectionery chocolate a few more. This bar has two ingredients, 81% cacao and (by default) 19% cane sugar, both organic. The cacao originates from Patanemo, Venezuela. The tasting notes advised me of ‘Cinnamon, nuts and spice’ but my first sniff of the bar was more red fruits and leather. The chocolate itself is very unfussy. twenty eight rectangles of dark, glossy chocolate with an excellent snap. Like all well tempered chocolate, it rattles quite loudly when a piece is dropped onto the rest of the bar.
Popping the first piece into my mouth I was immediately struck by how dense the cacao flavours are. It’s a full bodied, slightly acidic, deeply flavoured chocolate with overtones of red fruits and an undercurrent of spiciness. The use of cane sugar means that the slight molasses-like qualities of the sugar blend well with the cacao, tempering some of the acidity and softening the texture and flavour a little. The mouthfeel is quite ‘thick’, with the chocolate dissipating slowly. It’s a rich, ‘heavy’ chocolate with quite a spectrum of flavours from the initial fruity, acidic peak as the chocolate begins to melt, with the spicy undercurrents coming in as the cacao flavours build and reach their peak as the chocolate melts away.
It’s a surprisingly complex chocolate, and great for pairing with other foods (so far a certain coffee and my favourite old Irish Whiskey seem to marry well with it). The Mast Brothers’ reputation is well founded, and my first taste of ‘American Craft Chocolate’ (thankfully not ‘Kraft’) just makes me want to try the rest of the range.