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Inside Steven Alan

Like Clockwork: Mast Brothers and Their Chocolate Factory in Brooklyn

  • Or like sand through the hourglass? Perhaps like the shadows of a sundial would be more appropriate? Whatever it is, the tradition of cacao cultivation for making chocolate has gone on since the Mayans and the Aztecs to a new wave of Chocolatiers. Mast Brothers is one of only six bean- to-bar chocolate makers in the US.

    We began carrying Mast Brothers Chocolates early this spring and just recently paid a visit to the factory in Brooklyn. No crazed Gene Wilder and no Oompa Loompas to be found. We did, however, find two brothers Rick and Michael Mast, happily committed to the time-honored but time-consuming tradition of chocolate making.

    They keep things intimate yet still widely connected following a step-by-step process–from using only premium cacao beans handpicked and imported directly from small farmers throughout South America: Madagascar, Brazil, Venezuela, Dominican Republic to hand-wrapping the finished product. Early last week they let us in on their old-new-fashioned approach. Speaking of which, special thanks to Arto for acting as our tour guide.

    Step 1: Roast beans based on their own “roast profile.” This profile is developed through a series of trial and error to derive a unique flavor from the beans.

    Step 2:  “Winnowing”—a process of removing the bean from the nib and the shell from the nib. We hear you, for clarity, the nib is the core of the bean that makes the chocolate.
    At the factory, a custom rigged machine does the job.

    Step 3: “Conching”—slowly stone grind the nibs and cane sugar together for three days. The friction produced by the process can cause the temperature within the pot to rise up to 140˚!

    Step 4: Now we wait. Let the chocolate sit and age.

    Step 5: Agitate and cool down the chocolate. Pour into molds and put into freezer to cool before wrapping.

    Step 6: Hand-wrap chocolate in gold foil and Mast Brothers designed paper. Enjoy in a most likely less than time-consuming way.

    Try one for yourself. Now available at these locations:

    Tribeca-Steven Alan Annex
    103 Franklin St.
    New York, NY 10013
    t: 212.343.0692
    Mon-Sat 11:30am-7pm, except Thurs 11:30am-8pm
    Sun 12pm-6pm

    349 Atlantic Ave.
    Brooklyn, NY 11217
    t: 718.852.3257
    Mon-Sat 11:30am-7pm
    Sun 12pm-6pm

    West Village
    69 Eighth Ave.
    New York, NY 10014
    t: 212.226.7482
    Mon-Sat 11:30am-7pm
    Sun 12pm-6pm

    East Hampton
    52 Newtown Lane
    East Hampton, NY 11937
    t: 631.604.1726
    Mon-Thurs 10am-6pm
    Fri-Sat 10am-7pm
    Sun 10am-5pm

    This entry was posted on Monday, August 16th, 2010 at 4:56 pm and is filed under Have a Seat. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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