Brooklyn’s Mast Brothers has long been one of our favourite bean-to-bar chocolate makers. As is the norm with Mast Brothers, everything about this bar oozes quality, starting with the beautifully printed wrapping and gold paper inside.
I’ve wanted to try this particular chocolate for a while, and finally managed to pick up a bar in Paul A. Young’s Soho shop last week. It’s interesting to me because ostensibly it’s a chocolate bar with two flavours that’s made with a total of just three ingredients; Cacao, Cane Sugar and Vanilla Beans.
The cacao is apparently smoked, then stone ground with the vanilla and sugar over the course of several days. It really couldn’t be simpler – and that’s what makes Mast Brothers chocolate so great.
The surface has an attractive, glossy appearance, with a few scuff marks and scratches that just add to the character and handmade feel of the chocolate. There’s a very pleasant, sweet and chocolatey aroma that’s neither too strong or too subtle. It’s just enough to make it impossible to resist breaking off a chunk the moment you open it.
The texture of the stone ground chocolate is slightly course, without being grainy. It starts to melt quite quickly, releasing its deliciously sweet, fruity flavour. Interestingly, neither the smoke nor the vanilla are particularly apparent individually, but together they lend a warmth and sweetness to the overall flavour. There’s a hint of smokiness in the finish, but there’s really no more vanilla than any other quality chocolate bar. It’s delicate and subtle and for a 71% bar, it’s very approachable and very moreish.
There was a part of me that was hoping for a more pronounced flavour, but I still love this chocolate. The chocolate maker’s art is in taking the smoked cacao and vanilla and using them simply to enhance the flavour of the cocoa bean, rather than treating them as separate flavours.
I don’t know anywhere outside of the US that sells this online, but Paul A. Young certainly has some in stock, and if you give them a call, they’re usually happy to deliver.