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/

Bonus B – Black Sesame

Thanks to fellow blogger “Time to Eat Chocolate” for making me aware of this bar. When I attended the Northwest Chocolate Festival in Seattle a week after her blog post was published, I knew I had to pick up one of these bars for myself. Little did I know then that this bar was a “limited edition,” otherwise I would have picked up more of them!

Upon opening the silver foil inner packaging, I was immediately mesmerized by the plump jewel-like dried cherries, the sprinkling of white and black sesame seeds, the glinting crystals of French sea salt and oh my…the COLOR of the bar itself!!


I cannot get over the unique charcoal grey color that is achieved by combining ground black sesame seeds and non-dairy white chocolate (cocoa butter). Based on my experience with Charm School Chocolate as part of last year’s Eating the Chocolate Alphabet project, I knew that they produced exclusively vegan chocolate bars using coconut milk. What I didn’t realize is that this particular bar isn’t “traditional” in the sense that there aren’t any cocoa solids; black sesame seeds were truly the “star” providing both the flavor and the color for this bar!

Here is a photo of the bar against a black background so you can see the unique shade of grey, as well as the generous sprinkling of inclusions!

After several minutes of trying to capture the perfect angle (the bar is so photogenic, it was hard to decide on what to concentrate while taking pictures), it was finally time to taste the bar!

Surprisingly, there was a sharp snap to the bar; with only 40% cacao, I was expecting a softer snap and, to me, the primary aroma was coconut. The chocolate morsel melted slowly on my tongue, allowing me to enjoy the buttery, lightly salty, nutty and not-too-sweet flavor. Depending on the piece, I either experienced crunchy toasted (or maybe they were air puffed?) sesame seeds or tart, sour Michigan-grown Montmorency cherries or both! My personal preference is to “chomp” (rather than melt), so I enjoyed the juicy bursts of mouth-puckering cherries that counterbalanced the nutty sweetness of the sesame white chocolate.

I’ve heard of Montmorency cherries before, but didn’t know much about them. They take their name from a valley in France and are currently grown in Canada, France and the U.S. (particularly in Michigan and Wisconsin). According to Wikipedia, these cherries are said to date back to Ancient Rome. The trees were planted along the roads and soldiers would use the fruit for food and the wood to build weapons or repair equipment.

Also, did you know that black sesame seeds and white sesame seeds are basically the same? Black sesame seeds still have their hull (shell), while white sesame seeds have the hull removed. Some people say that black seeds are nuttier and smokier, while the white seeds are sweeter. I’m not sure that I could identify one over the other in a blind taste test and the flavors are so similar to me that I certainly can’t pick a favorite.

Long after I finished tasting this bar, a pleasant nutty aftertaste lingered in my mouth, making me want yet another piece. For someone who is not a fan of white chocolate, this bar just might have won me over! 🙂

To learn more about Charm School Chocolate, check out: https://www.charmschoolchocolate.com/