whilst recently wandering the streets of williamsburg in brooklyn, searching out independent retailers who have a point of difference, something out of the norm to say, we stumbled quite delightfully and unexpectedly across a chocolate shop. but this was no ordinary chocolate shop. as we opened the doors to this store we weren’t quite prepared for the intense smell that was about to hit us. it was epic, like something i have never smelt before. pure chocolate. this was no shop or store, this was a real life chocolate factory. the chocolate factory of the mast brothers, rick and michael mast, bearded food-loving pioneers from primghar, iowa, what a find.
the mast brothers pride themselves in being, bean to bar chocolatiers. their passion is driven from sourcing the highest of quality cocoa beans to go into their chocolate. the beans are hand sorted into size profile, which means that every bean is given an appropriate type of roast. only organic sugar is added to their beans to make their chocolate, so that what you taste is real chocolate. they believe strongly that the addition of ingredients such as cocoa butter, vegetable oils, vanilla or soya lecithin, only dumb down the chocolate natural flavour, so these are simply omitted from the recipe to focus on the chocolate natural taste.
each bar is carefully hand wrapped in stunning signature patterned papers, ready for our consumption. at $7 a bar, it’s not to everyone’s affordability, but the handmade process is certainly something you completely appreciate when tasting these divine bars of heaven. surely $7 is a one of treat to taste the greatest chocolate you will ever taste. the perfect gift perhaps for a chocolate lover. going back to any other will be a chore.
on a black board wall to the side of the factory, was written the mast brothers american craft of chocolate.
cocao tree – shade grown on small family farms, our chocolate begin with a simple, beautiful tree.
harvest – the tree produces colourful, football shaped fruit. upon harvest, the seeds (cocoa beans) are removed.
ferment – the beans are fermented in wooden boxes, covered by plantain leaves.
sun dry – spread out on raised drying beds, the sun preserves the beans’ complexity.
sail – we have sailed over twenty tons of cacao, using a 70 ft schooner built-in cape cod.
roast – every origin received a different roasting profile. bringing out the unique characteristics that make each farm special.
winnow – the shells of the bean must be removed to reveal the nib, the foundation of all chocolate making.
stone ground – in the traditional of the maya, we use stone to slowly grind the nibs and sugar into chocolate.
age – like wine or cheese, the chocolate benefits from a rest. this will broaden the scope of its flavour potential.
finish – the chocolate is poured, set and wrapped in our signature patterned paper.
and as if this wasn’t enough they have a book, a family cookbook. i know! totally fabulous and mouth-watering and mine arrived today. the joy.
here is a little showreel i found of these bearded fellas doing their thing, enjoy!