Mast Brothers – Madagascar 72%

Mast Brothers are creating a good deal of excitement in the chocolate world, with their hands-on processing, obvious care and attention to detail.  Passion is an overused word in the world of fine food but one taste of this highly characteristic Madagascan offering is enough to leave no doubt as to the passion of this producer.


Reviews

Georg Bernardini: 6-Jan-2012

Posted: January 6, 2012 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9.5 10%
Look/snap: 8 5%
Taste: 9.5 35%
Melt: 7 5%
Length: 9 15%
Opinion: 10 30%
Total/100: 93.75 100%
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Source: Own purchase
Supplied by: Dean & Deluca New York SoHo
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Rating: 2.3/10 (3 votes cast)

The Mast Brothers use the title Master Chocolate Maker. the fact that somebody makes chocolate don’ t makes him to a Master Chocolate Maker. Generally I think that there are very few Master Chocolate Makers in the world and that somebody who use this title should have a certain experience in making chocolate.
My impression is, that Mast Brothers take more care for the marketing than for the products. Starting with the style of themself, the store and ending with the very beautiful paper used for the bars.
However, Mast Brothers nevertheless do some good chocolates and one ”masterpiece”, but but also too much chocolates of medium of bad quality. The difference in the quality of their bars are very large, too large to be a top chocolatier.
But in the case of the Madagascar bar I would like to use the word “Masterpiece”. This chocolate is the masterpiece of Mast Brothers and it is easy to say; you like it or not. There is no mittle way. This chocolate is very polarizing.

It is great that Mast Brothers never add anything to the chocolate. They use only the beans and sugar. This takes a lot of risk. Difficult to mould, not a very nice look, because the chocolate is thik. For this reason the moulding is not perfect. The snap is not as a chocolate with added cocoa butter, but always nice. Other risks are the taste and the melt.
Not only that the chocolate smells wild, earthy, fruity and also fermented. The aroma is similar. Grapefruit, red berry, fermantation, citrus fruits, raisins, cedar, peat (earthy) and much more, but almost indefinable. The aroma and the taste stay longtime in the mouth.

All this aroma you can taste with a hint of tannin/adstringency and a well present acidity. Normally I don’ t like chocolate with adstringency and too acid, but here it works perfectly. The chocolate is for 72% cocoa solid (only cocoa mass!) unexcepted sweet and with a great harmony.

The melt is not great, but not too sticky. Without added cocoa butter only few chocolatiers control this point. And I think that the Mast Brothers don’ t have enough experience and equipment to control this.

I know that this chocolate is far to be perfect. This is not an overstyled chocolate for the masses. This is not an ordinary Madagascar-chocolate. This is not a chocolate for mass production. This is not a chocolate for people who don’ t like dark chocolate. They would never again try any dark chocolate. This is a chocolate for real chocoholics. With a lot of unexpected flavours from Madagascar beans. No other chocolatiers bring out this flavours.
I hope that this batch of this chocolate is not only a one time wonder and that the other batches are comparable in the style and quality.

Alex Rast: 1-Feb-2011

Posted: February 1, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 8.5 10%
Look/snap: 7.5 5%
Taste: 7.5 35%
Melt: 6.5 5%
Length: 8.5 15%
Opinion: 8 30%
Total/100: 78.50 100%
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Rating: 6.5/10 (4 votes cast)

The latest and one of the most fashionable names in coffee makes a foray into chocolate, with somewhat mixed results. While they seem to have an idea of the style they want, it seems to clash badly with this particular origin, resulting in a bar that tastes somehow out of place, like a young punk going to the opera. This “punk” is well-behaved, to be sure, but the overall impression is of a company that might have better success with a more fitting choice of origin.

Out of the wrapper, the bar looks surprisingly dark for a Madagascar: to a degree that makes one wonder a bit about the origin. It can’t be said that the finish is immaculate, either: it looks a bit dull and rough, carrying a “rustic” image. Nonetheless, any suspicions that this bar might adhere to the common “rustic” pattern of a dark roast from a woody source, resulting in a tannic, treacley bar are instantly dispelled in the aroma, which is instead ultra-fruity, with both raspberry and raisin competing for dominance. There are hints of brown sugar and woodiness, but nothing to create any sense of alarm. Hints of rubber and vinegar, however, do create alarm and suggest aggressive fermentation together with minimal conching. Nonetheless, Mast demonstrate that they are aware that chocolate needs an entirely different roasting profile than coffee, which is already a good start.

In the flavour, however, the bar seems indecisive. At first, it oscillates between citrus – the classic Madagascar note, and chocolatey – definitely not the typical Madagascar, and it must be said that this oscillation is between 2 flavours that fight rather than complement each other. This then progresses into a second oscillation, now between a woody smokiness and redcurrant, again, a discordant oscillation. Further hints of balsamic give evidence of a low conching time, and this seems clearly to be the culprit in an explosion of too many flavours simultaneously.

The melt also has problems, being both rough and quite dry, adding further harshness to what is already an aggressive bar. Mast seems to have been going for a process methodology that extracted the maximum number of flavour components out of the bean. It’s fiine if those flavours are complementary, but if, as here, they compete, the result is jarring. A longer conche, together with some cocoa butter, would smooth things out a lot. It does have a lot to commend it, and there is potential here, but an undisciplined potential that needs taming. If, on the other hand, as seems likely, Mast wants to retain that wild style, they might do better to use a different origin, such as a Dominican Republic or a Carenero Superior, that can benefit from such an approach.

Stuart Robson: 30-Jan-2011

Posted: January 30, 2011 by
SCORES Score/10 Weight
Aroma: 9.5 10%
Look/snap: 8.5 5%
Taste: 9.5 35%
Melt: 8 5%
Length: 9 15%
Opinion: 9.5 30%
Total/100: 93.00 100%
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Rating: 7.7/10 (3 votes cast)

I must admit that my expectations were high when it came to tasting this bar, everything about the philosophy that the Mast Brothers try to follow appeals to me and I had only heard good things. However with such a lot to live up to, this bar was going to have to be rather special.

I don’t normally comment on packaging but this time I will as the bar is really very beautifully presented in a heavy gram printed paper that has clearly been folded with great care. Inside, the bar is cased in gold foil, always my personal preference, and within the foil the finish is of a very high standard with a red brown colour, very little swirling and no bubbling to speak of.

It is on the nose that things really kick off though, and it is perhaps the most perfectly articulate set of aromas I have come across in any chocolate. Initially there is a lively mix of strawberry and raspberry jam with a contrasting earthy, almost toasty component running through the back. Slowly some typically Madagascan citrus notes start to build with lime and a little orange rind; impossible to fault.

 On the palette it is the earthy note that makes the first appearance but it is quickly overtaken by grassy touches, sharp grapefruit and some winey fermentation-like aromatics. Moving into the mid palette it is all fruits, firstly lime and mixed citrus peel, and then the most perfectly measured surge of slightly sharp raspberry jam leading us into the finish. It becomes more tannic and slightly woody now but the fruits continue to fight through, a truly exceptional profile which only improves with each bite.

Texturally this bar certainly takes a different direction to the often ultra-refined world of fine chocolate, and this is only to be expected given the manner in which these beans have been processed. The snap is slightly dull and the mouth feel rather grainy and a touch fudgey in the melt. However, I can’t help but feeling that, had this bar seen a more rigorous treatment, it might have lost some of the clarity in its impeccably demonstrative set of aromas.

A truly stunning and eye-opening chocolate from a small craft orientated company; intense, balanced, representative of the beans used and, to this reviewers taste…near enough perfect.

The Mast Brothers quite rustic, unbranded finish.



About the Author

Stuart Robson
Stuart Robson is a passionate foodie born in Scotland and based in Hertfordshire whose main expertise lies in the world of whisky and chocolate. He first began tasting fine chocolate in 2005 with Valrhona Manjari and has since developed a particular interest in single origin bars and a desire to highlight skilled cacao farmers and artisan producers all over the world. Stuart previously trained in Paris while working for a fine chocolatier, and has since become a reviewer for Seventypercent. He is still involved in freelance consultation for small companies working with bean-to-bar chocolate producers and chocolatiers.