I paid $9 for a chocolate bar: Mast Brothers chocolate

January 28, 2009

I paid $9 for a chocolate bar. And in these tumultuous financial times, by blogging about it, I think I will count my minor rebellion as… research. Mast Brothers Chocolate had entered and left my consciousness several times since reading a piece on this collaboration in Edible Brooklyn a few months back. Their product lingered in my mind because it is the only bean-to-bar chocolate creation in all of New York, and one of the few in this country. The Mast Brothers, Rick and Michael, travel to locations such as Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Madagascar to source whole cocoa beans from small farms. They bring the selections home to Brooklyn and make their skillful confections from absolute scratch. Of the bars wrapped in decorative paper (some labeled with the region), I chose the Dark Milk Chocolate (60% Cocoa) + Salt & Pepper. The king and queen of condiments sold me in a snap because I love the integration of salt into sweets, and I am never afraid of pepper. Never. The ‘dark milk’ chocolate factor did not occur to me until I got home. It may seem an oxymoron but, as I learned, it indicates the best of both worlds.

As a part of my ‘research’, I really paid close attention while I was eating this chocolate. And, laugh if you will, I learned that in art school. We had one of those take-your-shoes-off-in-class instructors who made us eat a single raisin for 30 minutes, noting what our mouths were doing, what the piece of dried fruit was doing, where our thoughts were going, etc. It seemed ridiculous at the time to us graphic design students but now that I am in the food business…well, it still seems kind of ridiculous. But yesterday, paying attention paid off. Each time my teeth bit down I encountered all of the velvety, melty-ness of milk chocolate. As they parted, in the natural repetition of chewing, the note of perfect dark chocolate dashed away any doubt that this chocolate was milk-focused. The pepper was quite subdued, it sort of grounded the flavors with a subtle earthy foundation. Then there was salt –a bit player that completely steals the show. The crumb-sized crystals were causing my mouth to water like crazy and deliver all of the delicate and rich flavors to every part of my palate. ‘My head is like a washing machine full of chocolate!’ I told Miss S after a few glasses of wine (a friendly pairing of Washington State Merlot from Sunset Rd. Vintners, 2006). Earlier I had discovered that the chocolate also went insanely well with a tannic cup of Oolong tea. Miss S tried a small bite of Dark Milk Salt Pepper with some cheese from the Basque country and was very pleased…

Though no aspect of the Mast Brothers’ meticulous business can be described as ‘easy’ there is something about the straightforwardness that translates as simplicity. It is this unclouded simplicity that allows the quality of the ingredients and the process to shine through, providing us with a beautiful handcrafted chocolate bar that is -simply- exceptional. To add to the value, just eat it slow.

Available at the following shops: http://www.mastbrotherschocolate.com/locations.html

or the Mast Brothers’ very own location @ 105 North Third Street, between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue • Williamsburg

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