I have a Microsoft Word document on my computer that is bursting at the seams* with tasting notes of all the chocolates I’ve eaten but have not yet reviewed. The document is very long and likely illegible to anyone else who opens it, as I write tasting notes in my signature blend of Turkish, Swedish, and Pig-Latin.
I’m talented like that.
Okay, okay, that was a lie. It’s illegible because I usually type with my left hand whilst eating the chocolate with my right, and I’m not left-handed.
The following is, I kid you not, a direct copy-pasted quote from said document:
dn rainigna dnc rnaky cause forgot you office
Can someone please translate that for me? Because I honestly have no idea what those words have to do with a spicy dark chocolate from New York.
Mast Brothers Dark Chocolate + Serrano Peppers
As the name of the company suggests, this chocolate was made by a couple of brothers. Mast Brothers. From New York. With beards. And if that sounds like the beginning of a fairytale to you, then go with it. All good fairytales should involve chocolate, anyway.
Oh, I apologise in advance for the less-than-stellar chocolate photos in this post. The light in my apartment was terrible on the day of eating, so I decided to embrace an “artsy” rather than “clear” aesthetic.
This chocolate was sent to me by the super-generous Tess, who used to be my brother’s housemate and has spent the past year working on a dairy farm in upstate New York. She’s been having such an amazing and inspiring time that I’m almost tempted to follow in her footsteps, except I’m scared of 4am starts and the enormous bruises she’s received from trying to herd cantankerous cattle in specific directions.
But let’s talk chocolate, not bruises.
If I had to describe this Mast Brothers Dark Chocolate + Serrano Peppers in three words, the words would be intense, divine, and not-for-the-faint-of-heart. And if I had a fourth word: love. And a fifth: vegan.
The cacao used in this chocolate was organically farmed in the Dominican Republic, but “roasted, cracked, winnowed, stone-ground and aged in Brooklyn” (so says the packaging). In other words, the Mast Brothers are dedicated, talented, and clearly know what they’re doing, chocolate-wise.
How can I be sure that they know what they’re doing? Well, because the chocolate is really good. I found it remarkably tasty, although I couldn’t in good conscience recommend it to anyone who is tentative about chillies. The Serrano peppers used in this chocolate pack some serious heat, starting with a prickle in your mouth and building to an intense burn in the back of your throat. Yes, I really mean “burn”. As a dedicated chilli-lover, I revelled in this near-painful sensation, but I know such an experience isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Setting aside the chillies for a minute, the chocolate Mast Brothers makes is itself quite unique. It isn’t as silky-smooth as other upmarket chocolates I’ve tried, but the slightly grainy texture doesn’t take away from its complexity of flavour. The aroma has a fruitiness akin to plums, raspberries, and olives, and the first flavours to hit upon tasting are caramel, muscovado sugar, capsicum, and cocoa.
For me, the tantalising interplay between this chocolate’s dark caramel sweetness, earthy-without-being-bitter intensity, and lingering, prickly burn of chillies was perfect. The smoky undertones to the rich chocolate were utterly moreish, and I found myself torn between despair that this Mast Brothers chocolate isn’t available in Australia, and relief on behalf of my bank account that it isn’t.
Sometimes, the life of the chocolate reviewer is confusing.
*Erroneous use of a cliché alert!