The king of the antibiotic and hormone-free, all-natural Angus beef burger patty, Shake Shack, recently launched its first-ever dark chocolate bar.
For $9 a pop you get fancy wrapping with a New York backdrop, paying homage to the first Shake Shack location in Madison Square Park and the scenery that surrounds it.
But don't judge a chocolate bar by its cover -- judge it by its producer.
New York's renowned chocolate makers, Mast Brothers, have handcrafted the bar from small farm cooperatives in Peru, Madagascar, and Dominican Republic to create an exclusive blend of premium cacao beans that are roasted, winnowed, stone ground, and aged and flawlessly tempered at the brothers' own century-old factory in Brooklyn, just next door to the original Shack.
So how did the Mast Brother's cocoa blend come about to be the shack chocolate? Well Rick Mast used to actually work for Gramercy Tavern years back, which is part of Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group that also owns Shake Shack.
The culinary development manager for Shake Shack, Mark Rosati, came across the brothers for the first time five years ago at a local food gathering in Brooklyn where he claims he was blown away by the simple yet complex and delicious chocolate. But the brothers didn't have the manpower to supply for the Shack then.
Three years later, as Mast Brother's grew, so did Shake Shack, and the flagship store in Madison square park ran a special that featured the brothers chocolate in their concrete.
"It was so well-received by our guests, and our staff loved it, which made us certain that we had something," Rosati says.
So when operations expanded for the brothers as well as for Shake Shack with the opening of their Brooklyn location, a simple feature turned into a special blend. "We wanted something neutral, not too bright, and not too rich that would work right in with the custard, and so the Shack chocolate was born," Rosati explains.
The 2.5-oz bar is made of just two ingredients: three quarters cacao and one quarter cane sugar, but it has notes of cranberry and cinnamon. Mast Brother's say that eating their chocolate is to be compared to drinking a fine wine. One that has several complex flavors and aromas, but its taste is unassuming and delicate.
And like a fine wine, the chocolate bar don't come cheap. True to it's chocolate bar counterparts, it's priced at $9, one dollar less than the other Mast Brother's blends.
"Rick and Michael Mast and us are like minded on sourcing. We pride ourselves in having the three ingredients in our burgers with a focus on finding the finest meat and treating it the best way we can so that it's all about the meat," Rosati says. "They grow their cocoa in the best farms and mix it with just sugar, so that it's all about the chocolate. That's priceless."
The bars are now available in all U.S. locations, and the chocolate blend is featured on Shake Shack's menu as a mix-in for concrete in three stores: Madison Square Park, Brooklyn, and the recently opened Long Island Shack.
So far neither of Miami's locations -- on Lincoln Road and in Coral Cables -- made that cut, but you can still go have a Shack burger, cheese fries and shake it off by crossing over to the dark side of chocolate.