04 December 2013

Mast Brothers Cookbook

When you look up "hipster" in the dictionary you will find a picture of the Mast Brothers.  They may be the original hipsters, though I am sure there is someone else ready to claim the title.

So here's the story:  Two young boys from Iowa leave to find fortune in the big city.  Tired of working for other people, they look for a creative outlet. They ask a simple question. Where does chocolate come from?  In their spare time they roasted chocolate in there tiny apartment.  They crack the beans by hand and wrapped them in fine papers. The rest is history.

OK, maybe not "history" but surly a moment in hipster history.  The Mast Brothers become obsessed. They immerse themselves in all things chocolate.  The ask more questions.  Why is there no bean-to-bar chocolate available?  How do we get from bean to bar?  Where do we find the folks that grow cacao beans?  After answering these questions, they began selling bars at farmer's markets.

Then one day, while visiting New York, pastry chefs at the French Laundry bought Mast Brothers chocolate.  They were ecstatic and raved to Thomas Keller but it takes more than that to impress Keller.

Keller thought the chefs had found another pair of artisans working at home.  Yes it was good, but could they sustain it.  By the time Keller paid the boys a visit, they had a small factory.  The Midwestern farm boys were strapping, over six feet tall, bearded, looking more like lumberjacks than chocolatiers.
They were no dilettantes, they were the real deal.

And now, they have a cookbook.  Clearly, if you make tons of chocolate, you eat tons of chocolate.  If you eat tons of chocolate, you have good  ideas about how to use that chocolate. The Mast Brothers know how to use their chocolate.

I confess, I adore chocolate.  I also admit that I am not a fan overly sweet chocolate.  I adore chocolate in savory dishes.  I make a winter spice rub with cocoa that makes wonderful chicken and baked squash.  I make squab with a stuffing infused with bits of chocolate.  My favorite bread is made with a chocolate stout and studded with chunks of chocolate.

The average chocolate cookbook has tons to cakes and cookies but few savory elements.   The Mast Brothers Cookbook has the requisite brownies and cakes, but there is a section of savory recipes that make this cookbook special.  Try this vinaigrette.

Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette

fresh rosemary                 1/2 sprig
cacao nibs                        1 tablespoon
cocoa powder                   2 teaspoons
sea salt                             2 teaspoons
black pepper                    1 teaspoon
balsamic vinegar              1/4 cup
honey                               2 teaspoons
extra virgin olive oil          1 cup

1. remove rosemary leaves from stem and roughly chop.
2. combine rosemary leaves,nibs, cocoa powder,salt,and pepper and grind in a mortar and pestle.
3. place  ground ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. Add balsamic vinegar and honey and whiskey.
5. Slowly add olive oil while whisking quickly to emulsify.
6. Store in a mason jar in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Who says you can't have your salad and eat chocolate, too?   If there is choco-holic in your house, this is the perfect gift.


  1. Now this sounds like my kind of book. I adore cooking with chocolate and like you say, most chocolate cookbooks don't include enough savory recipes. Just look at the goodness in that vinaigrette and Rosemary too!!!

    Thank you so much for sweet bite of history and introducing this book. I must add it to my ever growing wish list of recipe books:)

    1. There is a chocolate scallop dish on my list to try!

  2. I'd love for you to post about it! If you are on Pinterest, I have a board devoted to cooking with chocolate!


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