Saturday, February 4, 2012

Mast Brothers Chocolate Hazelnuts

2.5oz bar
Ingredients: Cacao, cane sugar, hazelnuts, olive oil  

Last week I reviewed The Brooklyn Blend from Mast Brothers Chocolate, which I learned about during a visit to New York City. This week I'm tasting the other bar I brought back with me, Hazelnuts. Why did I select this one? Since I didn't have a chance to visit the company and taste its wares, I was choosing from among several flavors at a nearby store. I'd just reviewed a bunch of bars involving salt and/or almonds, I'm tired of chocolate that's spicy with no other flavor, and I'm not a huge coffee fan, but I don't get a lot of hazelnuts unless they're in European bars, and then they're usually in some sort of fancy filling. Plain old crushed hazelnuts are surprisingly novel. So there you go.

Corporate Info: (copied from 1/28/12) Mast Brothers is based in hipster-soaked Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the eponymous brothers do fit the description. The company's website doesn't go into many details about the operation itself, but it does link to articles that describe the process as bean-to-bar and at least partially organic and direct trade. (If you're really interested, follow through on those links to see photos and much more on Mast Brothers.) Reviews seem to be love-it-or-hate-it regarding the taste, prices, and aesthetic of the chocolate, and indeed a lot of the press seems to be related to its uniquely patterned packaging. Mast Brothers' products are available mostly in New York, but also in select high-end food stores around the country.

Appearance: This non-Brooklyn Blend looks different too, a little less ashy and more glossy, less orange and more purple. Neat. Oh, and the back is very prettily covered with crushed hazelnuts.

Smell: Side by side with the Brooklyn Blend, the chocolate in Hazelnuts has less of that earthy (a.k.a. dirt) and green smell and more of a subtle, straightforward fruit thing going on, in the sweet berry direction.

Taste: Fruity, bitter, and tannic—very winey, with all the flavors balanced well. Seriously, it's like drinking a full-bodied red wine here, but with more sugar, and as a total afterthought, I can't taste the hazelnuts under all that. Texture is initially crunchy, then thick and rich, so the hazelnuts don't stand out there either. You'll get no complaints from me since it's nice chocolate and the hazelnuts look lovely on the back, but otherwise I'm not sure why they're there.

Conclusion: Mast Brothers Chocolate Hazelnuts is like eating fruity red wine in quite a nice way, but after you've looked at the pretty hazelnuts on the back, you'll forget about them entirely. Oh, well.

[Update 2/4/12: Since I wrote this, Mast Brothers' website has changed and now I can't find a "where to buy" list that covers brick-and-mortar stores. I'm leaving the link in case they change it back.]


  1. I haven't had this one either, but I sure love the wrapper.

    It looks like maybe this bar is made with Dominican Republic-origin cacao, in which case I've had the respective single-estate plain bar. Hard to tell, as they've changed their packaging around and renamed some things.

    Oof, would love to try their truffle bar !

  2. That truffle bar sounds amazing! It wasn't available at the store I visited, and unfortunately neither were many of the others they have on their (pdf) wholesale sheet, like vanilla & smoke or pecan & maple. Too bad, because they would've been fun to try. If I see any around here I'll be sure to pick them up!

  3. I agree with you! Just bought this bar myself and was disappointed in the lack of Hazelnuts. Too bad. Cacao is good, though.

    Had the truffle bar and I have to say WOW--that's some flavor! If you like truffles then go for it. Otherwise, stay clear, as it's over powering.

  4. Kym, nice blog! It's interesting to see how Mast Brothers changed the hazelnut topper to be halves/larger pieces, and less evenly applied than on the bar I had.

    I would definitely be up for that overpowering truffle bar :)