M is for Miso

In case you haven’t heard…Mast Brothers recently shuttered their Arts District DTLA location less than a year after opening. Don’t judge me too harshly, but I’m glad that I was able to get several of their “Los Angeles Collection” bars before they disappeared.

If you’ve been following along on my Eating the Chocolate Alphabet adventure, you’ll know that I’ve been tasting some unique flavor combinations that one would never have expected to find with chocolate! Influenced by the tastes found in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles, is this Miso & Sesame bar.

The minimalist blue and cream packaging, artwork designed by Block Shop Textiles, calls to mind the noren (fabric curtains or dividers) you might find hanging outside or within a Japanese shop or restaurant.

Gently peeling back the rectangular informational sticker keeping the folds closed, reveals a reddish brown bar studded with black sesame seeds, with just the edges of the inner gold foil peeking out, almost like a hiyoku lining layer of a kimono.

Inhaling deeply, there is a smoky and earthy aroma. Turning the bar over, the 28-rectangle bar has a glossy, almost mirror-like shine. Segmenting tasting morsels produces a dull snap and I’m surprised by the creamy mouthfeel while melting a piece in my mouth (the additional cocoa butter must have helped). Closing my eyes, I can almost imagine gentle wisps of steam rising from a bowl of miso soup set before me; stirring the opaque dashi stock with chopsticks to uncover the seaweed, green onions and tofu that have settled to the bottom. This bar is savory and lightly salty, such that I would never have guessed that the base chocolate was made with Peruvian cacao beans (known to have natural citrus notes). The black sesame seeds provide an added texture and crunch element, though I’m wondering how it might have tasted with white sesame seeds instead.

Did you know that miso is a thick paste made traditionally from fermented soybeans as well as rice and barley? Though not specified on the packaging or website, I’m guessing that Mast utilized dehydrated white miso as it’s milder in flavor (due to being fermented for less time) and considered sweeter and lower in salt than yellow, red or black miso.

In the past, I haven’t been a fan of Mast Brothers’ chocolate bars; but this bar seems to capture the essence of flavor associated with Japanese cuisine. Have you tried miso with chocolate before? Let me know!

For more information on their variety of chocolate bars, check out: https://mastbrothers.com/

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