I'm usually too frugal to take cabs or park my car in a garage, but take me to the factory where my favorite chocolate is made and even though each bar costs a dollar more than I pay at the Park Slope Food Coop, I buy six.
In my defense, I found a few flavors that the coop doesn't carry. I also love the papers they're wrapped in and hadn't seen the yellow and red one before. Isn't the anchor one awesome? I bought two of those, but gave one to my Mom.
Inspired by my own post about a Mast Brothers tour being a better way to celebrate Valentine's Day, I bought tickets for me and Daniel and we visited a few weeks ago.
Mast Brothers began about five years ago when Michael and Rick Mast, two Iowa boys, began making chocolate together in their Brooklyn apartment. Now they work out of a 2,000 square foot space in Williamsburg that didn't feel like a factory to me. Sure, there are a few big, crazy looking machines, but overall, it felt more like a laid-back place where a group of good friends hang out and make chocolate together.
Our tour guide told us to call him Herbster, drank what looked like coffee from a mason jar and said they make about 4,000 bars of chocolate per week. They're all hand wrapped and the brothers thought about changing that, but decided to keep what's known as "the golding table" because it's simply so fun to sit around, talk about girls and wrap the bars themselves.
Mast Brothers uses cacao that's been organically farmed in Madagascar, the Dominican Republic and Venezuela. Before our tour, I had never seen a cacao bean. Now I've tasted one fresh from the oven and watched them get winnowed, conched, tempered, molded, and turned into beautiful, glossy bars.
I've always been drawn to Mast Brothers because they don't dumb down chocolate and load it with unnecessary fillers. The only bean to bar chocolate shop in New York, they use just cacao and sugar. The only other ingredients they'll add are things like cocoa nibs, hazelnuts, sea salt and crushed Stumptown coffee beans. For some, Mast Brothers chocolate might seem too intense or take some getting used to. I love having a few squares after dinner and rather than chomp right into it, I like to savor a piece at a time, letting it melt slowly so the different flavors linger.
The tour lasted about an hour, cost $10 per person, and even though there was a lot to learn, Herbster made chocolate-making sound easy. If I didn't have such good options in my very own borough, I might try making my own at home. For now, I'll rely on the Mast Brothers. (By the way, what is it with siblings making such good sweets in Brooklyn these days?)
105 North 3rd Street
Tours are Saturday and Sunday at 1pm