My sister over in Queens is always telling me of these cool fellows she sees when she visits one of the many flea markets in Brooklyn. When she mentioned that one of them was Mast Brothers, my interest was immediately piqued and did my best to accompany her on one of her trips as soon as I could. I’ve heard of Mast Brothers before, and to be fair I had acquired these bars and had tasted them this past November. At the time there was only whispers about Mast Brothers on the internet, as they sold exclusively in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the time. As of now they’re found in select shops in the Five Boroughs with no online sales yet.
In recent months they’ve gotten lots of attention, one of the most notable was a write up in the New York Times. The Mast Brothers started from humble beginnings that they remind faithful to. They’re New York City’s only bean to bar chocolate maker, with each bar hand crafted by Rick and Michael using cacao beans acquired from small family coops. Needless to say, their ideas and processes are certainly heartfelt and full of quality.
When I was at their table at the flea market. I was immediately torn between the selections. Firstly, they have a lot to offer, and it was difficult deciding on which to try to get a good idea of their range and flavors. The other factor is the packaging. It’s simply gorgeous. I felt the pull to try a bar that I wasn’t as interested in, tasting wise, because the paper that it was wrapped in was just too beautiful. That’s a good problem to pose to your customers.
I finally narrowed it down to three bars:
70% Dominican: Dark in color with a nice gloss and red undertones. The snap is hard and the break is clean with only intermittent air bubbles. I can tell there’s lots of cocoa butter here, as it melts easily under my fingers as I hold up a piece to examine. The bar smells very fruity: berries, tart cherries, cranberries, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, coconut. It breaks nicely when bitten into. The flavor starts off cool and dry with light cocoa notes, then blooms with a tartness of red berries and coffee. Those tastes linger and fade away to leave a somewhat tannic flavor of cocoa powder and cream. The aftertaste is extremely clean. Love it.
80% Fleur De Sel: This bar’s color is deep, dark brown with blue/gray undertones and a subtle sheen. The snap is hard with a nice solid break. The bar smells strongly of cocoa, coffee, caramel, and strawberries and coconut. The flavor is dry at first, but quickly opens to light flavors of cocoa, red fruits, coconut, and green coffee. I’m pleased as this chocolate is quite mild, especially for an 80%. There are only a few slight dry/tannic notes at the finish. Thankfully it’s not sour at all. The salt is barely noticeable, as I taste them more as grit in the bar. If I really pay attention, I do notice a little saltiness, but it’s not terribly noteworthy. A great bar.
60% Salt and Pepper: A nice medium brown color with only a very light gloss. There’s flecks of pepper and salt easily visible in the bar’s backside, and it’s really beautiful. The chocolate smells lightly of chocolate (of course!) with notes of berries and coffee. The bite is soft and the chocolate is very creamy and smooth. You notice the light saltiness right away, and it really compliments the milky, caramel flavors of the chocolate. The pepper shows later, about halfway through the flavor. It tastes sharp and floral, but not overly so, it makes a great, spicy addition to the chocolate. Again, I love this, as it’s unique and very tasty.
Needless to say. I’m impressed. I’m floored. This is some unique and tasty chocolate and I can’t wait to get my hands on more.
Links Mast Brother’s Website