The Home of the Best Cocoa Beans in the World

Did you know that in 17th century, Venezuela was the world’s major cocoa producer and exporter. Currently, one of the chief producers of cocoa in the world is Dominican Republic. Followed by Cibao Valley, San Francisco de Macoris and Santiago.

One of the best cocoa producers is Dominican Republic because cocoa farmers there really know how to cultivate and nourish cacao trees. This is the main reason why they have high quality cocoa beans. The country produces two types of cocoa beans. These are the Hispaniola and the Sanchez. Based on the study, Hispaniola has 4% share while Sanchez has 96% share in the country’s cocoa production .

Cocoa is considered as the market’s smallest commodity. Cocoa beans have been available to the market for several years now. Moreover, traders before was engaged into barter using cocoa products. Today, cocoa products are traded in London and New York. London market rely on the cocoa production of West African while New York market depend on South East Asia.

The operation in cocoa industry is improving. Before, it’s the middleman who closes a deal between farmer and manufacturer. Now, farmer can directly make an arrangement with chocolate manufacturer. This clearly eliminates the need and cost of having a middleman.

Here are some benefits of having a direct agreement between farmer and chocolate manufacturer:

Manufacturer…

1. Can give definite instructions to farmers. Manufacturer can even require the standard of cocoa beans that they’ll be needing in their production.
2. Gets the right quality and aroma of beans needed for their production.
3. Can ask for a bargain price for bulk orders.

Farmer…

1. Can meet the exact standards required by the client.
2. Knows essential details about cocoa. It is very unlikely for a middleman to know more information about the product.
3. Doesn’t need to hire a middleman to find manufacturer.
4. Will be able to get the right price for their products. No need to share their mark up price with their middlemen.
5. Can offer discounted amount of the product to chocolate manufacturers. This can help in maintaining longer and stronger relationship with clients.

Selling cocoa is the number one source of income for the families of cocoa farmers. Indeed, the most important time for them is the harvesting period. They will start to grade, weigh and prepare dried cocoa beans, then deliver all cocoa bags to their clients. This will eventually convert the products into cash!

Cocoa farmers play an important role in our society. Without themArticle Search, we can’t have enough supply of our favorite chocolates anytime!

Does Chocolate Help Brain Health?

A new study this week that linked the antioxidant-rich flavanols in cocoa to improved memory in healthy older adults produced lots of yummy headlines, so  it’s OK to stuff ourselves with leftover Halloween candy, right? Well, not exactly.

Study participants — all between the ages of 50 and 69 — saw striking improvements in memory after drinking a special cocoa drink daily for just three months. On average, the memory of 60-year-olds improved to perform more like that of  30- or 40-year-olds, according to lead author Scott A. Small, professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. A control group that downed a low-flavanol drink did not show such improvement on the memory and pattern-recognition tests.

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Sadly, this does not mean the average older adult could improve his or her memory with candy bars. First, Small estimates you would have to eat at least 25 chocolate bars a day to get the amount of flavanols in the drink — and the ensuing obesity caused by all that fat and calories would be terrible for your brain and heart. Second, the processing of most chocolate bars makes them virtually flavanol-free. “Do not, please do not, eat that much chocolate,” Small urges.

Beyond the cocoa headlines, there is even more exciting news from the study published in Nature Neuroscience, Small adds. It turns out that the area of the hippocampus most involved in age-related memory loss (dentate gyrus) is “clearly distinguished” from the area of the hippocampus affected by Alzheimer’s (entorhinal cortex). The study also helps validate previous research that found cocoa flavanols improve blood flow, heart health and memory in humans and mice. The study was funded in part by Mars Inc., as well as the National Institutes of Health and two research foundations.

“I do think that the idea here is that dietary intervention and lifestyle might ameliorate a normal age-related memory process,” Small says. So we may one day be able to create a chocolate bar that improves memory in older brains. When that happens, by the way, we won’t be handing them out to the little trick-or-treaters at our house. We’ll keep those for ourselves.

Yummy News Cocoa May Help Keep Brain Healthy

When the press release hit email in-boxes, health editors across the country – including yours truly – were certainly dancing a jig. “Chocolate May Help Keep Brain Healthy,” said the release headline. “Drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day may help older people keep their brains healthy and their thinking skills sharp.” Obviously, fantastic news.

The study, published in the respected journal Neurology, comes from the hallowed halls of Harvard.

So it was with something close to glee that I called Farzaneh Sorond, M.D., Ph.D., and a neurologist with Harvard Medical School. Give us our prescription, Dr. Sorond. Tell us just how much chocolate and what kind we should eat or drink to keep our brains healthy. We’re ready to take our medicine.

But Sorond wanted to talk about something more exciting than chocolate. (As if there really were such a thing.)

First, the details of the study:

The lucky study participants – all 60 of whom had high blood pressure, diabetes or both – drank two cups of hot cocoa a day for 30 days and didn’t consume any other chocolate during the study. Before the study began, researchers tested participants’ memory and thinking skills and ran ultrasounds to measure the amount of blood flow to the brain during those tests. The researchers found that 18 of the 60 in the study had impaired blood flow to the brain.

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By the end of the study, those with impaired blood flow had an 8 percent blood flow increase to the areas of the brain used during test-taking. They also had sped up their working memory, dropping their test time from 167 seconds to 116 seconds. The cocoa didn’t change the brain blood flow or improve test scores of those with regular blood flow.

Although half of the participants were given cocoa rich in the antioxidant flavanol that’s found in dark chocolate and the other half got flavonol-poor cocoa, the flavonol content seemed to make no difference in the results. This is interesting because some previous studies have found chocolate with high flavonol content seems to help brain health.

So when I reached Sorond on the phone, I began with questions about the chocolate content of the cocoas. But she brushed those aside. She was much more excited about what the study showed about blood flow.

“I’d like to emphasize that the importance of this study is that we were able to show that when your brain starts working, the blood flow to that area of brain is increased,” she said.  Not only were the scientists able to see the blood flowing to the thinking areas of the brain, they could also see that the cocoa was improving that blood flow. Now we’re getting somewhere!

Several good studies have shown the beneficial effect of cocoa, she added. Excellent. And a previous Harvard study found chocolate may lower blood pressure in people with hypertension. So the recommendation must be to ..?

“I would be uncomfortable in recommending chocolate for brain health,” she said, to my great disappointment, adding that the extra calories and sugar might not be beneficial to an already “at-risk” population. Darn it.

But still there was hope for the chocolate prescription. We spoke with Paul Rosenberg, M.D., Associate Director of the Memory and Alzheimer’s Treatment Center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, who called this research a “remarkable first step,” in his editorial accompanying the study.  That sounded promising.

But like Sorond, Rosenberg is more encouraged that we’ve found a new, easier way of measuring blood flow to the brain and that we can see that introducing a substance to the blood stream – like hot cocoa – can improve that blood flow.  He hopes researchers can use that new knowledge to further our search for prevention and treatment for both vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

This all sounds wonderful, but what about recommending chocolate?! “I’m not ready to run out and tell everybody to use cocoa,” he told me.

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Undaunted, we turned to Sam Gandy, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of Alzheimer’s Disease Research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and a leading scientist in brain health research.

“Chocolate contains many active compounds that may have benefit, but it also contains caffeine and theophylline that elevate blood pressure,” he wrote in an email.

His preference for brain health is not hot cocoa, but a good brisk walk. “Absolutely. No contest. Go for a walk. Don’t sit and pack in the chocolate!” he wrote.

Well, darn. Still, no one said I couldn’t have a nice little cup of cocoa. After my walk.

Cocoa flavanols lower blood pressure and increase blood vessel function in healthy people

Two recently published studies in the journals Age and the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) demonstrate that consuming cocoa flavanols improves cardiovascular function and lessens the burden on the heart that comes with the aging and stiffening of arteries. The studies also provide novel data to indicate that intake of cocoa flavanols reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD).

As we age, our blood vessels become less flexible and less able to expand to let blood flow and circulate normally, and the risk of hypertension also increases. Arterial stiffness and blood vessel dysfunction are linked with cardiovascular disease — the number one cause of deaths worldwide. “With the world population getting older, the incidence of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and stroke will only increase,” says Professor Malte Kelm, Professor of Cardiology, Pulmonary Diseases and Vascular Medicine at University Hospital Düsseldorf and Scientific Director of FLAVIOLA. “It is therefore pivotal that we understand the positive impact diet can have on cardiovascular disease risk. As part of this, we want to know what role flavanol-containing foods could play in maintaining the health of the heart and blood vessels.”

Cocoa flavanols are plant-derived bioactives from the cacao bean. Dietary intake of flavanols has been shown to have a beneficial effect on cardiovascular health but the compounds are often destroyed during normal food processing. Earlier studies have demonstrated that cocoa flavanol intake improves the elasticity of blood vessels and lowers blood pressure — but, for the most part, these investigations have focused on high-risk individuals like smokers and people that have already been diagnosed with conditions like hypertension and coronary heart disease. These two studies in Age and BJN are the first to look at the different effects dietary cocoa flavanols can have on the blood vessels of healthy, low-risk individuals with no signs or symptoms of cardiovascular disease.

Cocoa flavanols increase blood vessel flexibility and lower blood pressure

In the study published in Age, two groups of 22 young (<35 years of age) and 20 older (50-80 years of age) healthy men consumed either a flavanol-containing drink, or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for two weeks. The researchers then measured the effect of flavanols on hallmarks of cardiovascular aging, such as arterial stiffness (as measured by pulse wave velocity), blood pressure and flow-mediated vasodilation (the extent to which blood vessels dilate in response to nitric oxide).

They found that vasodilation was significantly improved in both age groups that consumed flavanols over the course of the study (by 33% in the younger age group and 32% in the older age group over the control intervention). In the older age group, a statistically and clinically significant decrease in systolic blood pressure of 4 mmHg over control was also seen.

Improving cardiovascular health and lowering the risk of CVD

In the second study, published in BJN, the researchers extended their investigations to a larger group (100) of healthy middle-aged men and women (35-60 years) with low risk of CVD. The participants were randomly and blindly assigned into groups that consumed either a flavanol-containing drink or a flavanol-free control drink, twice a day for four weeks. The researchers also measured cholesterol levels in the study groups, in addition to vasodilation, arterial stiffness and blood pressure.

“We found that intake of flavanols significantly improves several of the hallmarks of cardiovascular health,” says Professor Kelm. In particular, the researchers found that consuming flavanols for four weeks significantly increased flow-mediated vasodilation by 21%. Increased flow-mediated vasodilation is a sign of improved endothelial function and has been shown by some studies to be associated with decreased risk of developing CVD. In addition, taking flavanols decreased blood pressure (systolic by 4.4 mmHg, diastolic by 3.9 mmHg), and improved the blood cholesterol profile by decreasing total cholesterol (by 0.2 mmol/L), decreasing LDL cholesterol (by 0.17 mmol/L), and increasing HDL cholesterol (by 0.1 mmol/L).

The researchers also calculated the Framingham Risk Score — a widely used model to estimate the 10-year cardiovascular risk of an individual — and found that flavanol intake reduced the risk of CVD. “Our results indicate that dietary flavanol intake reduces the 10-year risk of being diagnosed with CVD by 22% and the 10-year risk of suffering a heart attack by 31%,” says Professor Kelm.

The combined results of these studies demonstrate that flavanols are effective at mitigating age-related changes in blood vessels, and could thereby reduce the risk of CVD in healthy individuals. The application of 10-year Framingham Risk Scores should be interpreted with caution as the duration of the BJN study was weeks not years and the number of participants was around 100, not reaching the scale of the Framingham studies. That being said, Professor Kelm comments that “the reduction seen in risk scores suggests that flavanols may have primary preventive potential for CVD.” Other longer-term studies, such as the 5-year COcoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS) of 18,000 men and women, are now underway to investigate the health potential of flavanols on a much larger scale.

What Makes a Successful Chef

Have you ever envisioned yourself as a glamorous executive chef who goes to “Iron Chef” and cooks everybody else’s bum to another planet? You are not the only one.

Becoming a chef can be a good career move only if you have the right personality, and it is definitely not as glorious as it seems on TV.

Working under constant pressure to deliver the food fast without sacrificing quality throughout the process, standing on your feet for long hours, enduring cuts and burns, heavy lifting, noise, heat, smokes and fumes, working on evenings, weekends and holidays and almost anytime when the rest of the world is not working are just a few of the things you must go through as a chef.

When you finally become a head chef you might not have to do the heavy lifting, but your responsibilities will increase significantly. Executive chefs, or head chefs, are in charge of coordinating the work of the kitchen staff, control food cost, determine serving sizes, plan menus, order supplies, ensure quality and presentation of food is correct, schedule staff, train the cooks on public health regulations and how to store all products in order to control waste.

All that being said, however, the chef profession has many advantages over a 9-to-5 job. For one, you’ll never be bored. There is always something going on in a kitchen. You will always be trying to outdo yourself and cook the most memorable meal possible for each of your patrons. Add to this a dash of the good comments of your customers, a sprinkle of the satisfaction that comes with a job well done at the end of the night, the camaraderie and teamwork in the kitchen, the possibility to apply your creativity on a daily basis, the lifelong learning and prospects of advancement, and you have all the ingredients for a successful and satisfying career.


Conflict cocoa

The world cannot afford to stay silent on a conflict bubbling in a corner of Africa that has already pushed up prices of – what some people consider to be – an essential commodity to a 30-year high in recent months.

If the crisis spirals out of control – as may be the case, with one man hanging on to power despite the rising popularity of his electoral opponent and de jure winner of last year’s elections – there is every chance of shortages due to falling production in the battle zone.

That must not be allowed to happen, else many people will be left ganache-ing their teeth by 2014, when chocolate production may grind to a halt for want of raw material from sustainable sources.

So far, there has been a cautious reaction from major players to the call by activists to clamp down on exports from Ivory Coast, but as the world demand for chocolate has not fallen significantly, there is little chance of the world making that bean-ana republic a nougat-zone.

It is not surprising the sale of conflict cocoa – some may call it blood beans – continues, for the bitter truth is that Ivory Coast produces 32% of the world’s total supply and cutting it out of sourcing calculations is no trifling matter. So, a contraband cocoa channel has been in operation and beans are making their way under couverture of darkness to international markets via soft-centred neighbours.

To avert a 2014 cocoa crisis and spur an early settlement of the Ivorian stalemate, an awareness campaign run by socially-conscious chocolatiers – on the lines of those on fur and diamonds – could be the answer, with ethical cocoa as the ultimate aim.

If there is also a name-and-shame initiative to stop the furtive purchases or gifting of conflict chocolates, the world may yet have its cocoa and eat it too.

Raw cacao vs cocoa: what’s the difference?

You guys have been asking us: “What’s the difference between cocoa and cacao?”, so we thought we’d better clear a few things up for you.

Is there a difference between the two aside from a few vowels?

The studies that boast of chocolate’s amazing health benefits are not referring to your average store-bought chocolate bar (damn misleading researchers). The chocolate that they’re referring to is raw cacao.

Raw cacao is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa and removes the fat (cacao butter).

Cocoa looks the same but it’s not. Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. Sadly, roasting changes the molecular structure of the cocoa bean, reducing the enzyme content and lowering the overall nutritional value.

What are the health benefits of raw cacao?

  • Lowers insulin resistance.
  • Protects your nervous system: Cacao is high in resveratrol, a potent antioxidant also found in red wine, known for its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier to help protect your nervous system.
  • Shields nerve cells from damage.
  • Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Reduces your risk of stroke.
  • Reduces blood pressure.
  • Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease: The antioxidants found in cacao help to maintain healthy levels of nitric oxide (NO) in the body. Although NO has heart-benefiting qualities, such as relaxing blood vessels and reducing blood pressure, it also produces toxins. The antioxidants in cacao neutralise these toxins, protecting your heart and preventing disease.
  • Guards against toxins: As a potent antioxidant, cacao can repair the damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the risk of certain cancers. In fact, cacao contains far more antioxidants per 100g than acai, goji berries and blueberries. Antioxidants are responsible for 10% of the weight of raw cacao.
  • Boosts your mood: Cacao can increase levels of certain neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well-being. And the same brain chemical that is released when we experience deep feelings of love – phenylethylamine – is found in chocolate.
  • It is rich in minerals: Magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium, zinc, copper and manganese.

If cacao is more beneficial than cocoa because it’s raw, what happens when we cook it?

Very good question and we’re glad you asked… unfortunately, there is no science on whether or not heating raw cacao destroys its antioxidant level making it more akin to its heated and processed cousin cocoa. BUT we figure if you start off with the product in its raw form, it has to be more beneficial than starting with an already heated and processed equivalent.

Let’s end with an interesting tid-bit…

Research shows that dairy inhibits the absorption of antioxidants from raw cacao.

So if you’re making a cacao shake you’re better off using a non-dairy milk, such as almond or coconut, in order to reap all of the antioxidant benefits. Fact!

Keen to introduce more cacao into your kitchen repertoire? Check out our Chocolate Cookbook for some delicious chocolate treats and recipes that are so good for you, you can eat them for breakfast!

5 ways to add raw cocoa powder to your diet

I cannot remember the last time I went a full day without consuming cocoa. Seriously. Whether it’s my morning hot chocolate I make from scratch, or the raw cocoa powder I sprinkle over frozen banana slices for a sweet snack, cocoa is getting into my system in some way or another. Am I an addict? Yeah, probably. Is it a health concern? Not the way I consume it.

We’ve written about the health benefits of cocoa before. It is packed with antioxidants that destroy free radicals, the chemicals that accelerate aging, inflammation and increase the potential for a range of diseases. Eating a little dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke. It can even improve blood pressure and blood vessel health, and improve your HDL cholesterol. We all have heard the studies about how great cocoa is, but we can’t just go around chowing down on chocolate bars. The benefits are too often far outweighed by the negative consequences of the fat and refined sugar we tend pair with our raw cocoa powder.

Instead, here are healthful ways to add cocoa powder to your diet without any of the negative stuff that ruins cocoa’s goodness.

Puddings (even for breakfast!)

Think you can’t have chocolate pudding for breakfast? Think again. Here’s a fantastic recipe for Chocolate Cottage Cheese Chia Pudding — high in protein, it’ll keep you full for hours while also adding the benefits of cocoa powder into your meal.

Another variation is this Raw Chocolate Superfood Pudding, which as the name suggests, packs in the superfoods, making it a great breakfast or snack option. Falling somewhere between a sweet breakfast and a potential dessert treat, here’s a recipe for Banana Avocado Pudding. It’s about as simple as you can get, and I can’t wait to try it.

This one is a little rich for breakfast, but for a sweet and healthy dessert, try my Chocolate Avocado Pudding which is vegan, raw, and filled with nutrients and healthy fats.

Sprinkled over fruit

My very favorite snack, and something I admittedly eat daily, is a cup of frozen banana slices with cocoa powder sprinkled over the top. Falling somewhere between a chocolate-covered banana and a cold banana truffle, this treat is one of my go-tos for satisfying a sweet tooth. And it’s just a banana and some cocoa powder. Can’t get healthier than that for dessert.

Take it a step farther by adding the frozen banana slices and cocoa powder to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth for a creamy chocolate ice cream. No really, it’s just like ice cream!

Another way to go is to toast a piece of whole-grain bread, spread a layer of raw nut butter (almond or peanut are my favorites!), add another layer of thinly sliced banana, and sprinkle with cocoa powder. It’s a healthy breakfast that tastes like dessert. It also works if you do a layer of freshly sliced strawberries instead of bananas — or thinly sliced apples or pears, for that matter.

Be creative because really any fruit is a perfect pairing for cocoa powder. The sweet from the fruit counters the bitterness from the cocoa, so you have chocolate without any refined sugar. Even a bowl of raspberries or blueberries can get a sprinkle of cocoa powder for extra deliciousness.

Granola bars

Granola bars are surprisingly easy to make. A quick Web search will give you lots of recipes, though one of the simplest and healthiest I’ve found is a 5-ingredient granola bar. You can just add cocoa powder to the mix, adjusting the moist ingredients slightly to make sure the mix isn’t too dry, or you could add raw cacao nibs to your granola bar mixture. Cacao nibs are the same thing as cocoa powder only before the cocoa has been ground down to powder. So you’ll get the same health benefits (and a little crunch!) by using them instead of powder.

Another option for adding cocoa powder to healthy snack bars is this recipe for Chocolate Larabars, or these easy 5-Minute Raw Cacao Snack Bars. There are tons of great ideas and options online, so it’s only a matter of time before you can begin perfecting your own personal recipe for healthy cocoa-infused snack bars.

Fudge and brownies

Yes it’s true, there are even healthy (or rather, healthy-ish) versions of fudge and cocoa that can give you more of cocoa powder’s benefits without all the unhealthy stuff attached.

For example, there is this mouth-watering recipe for The Best Vegan Black Bean Brownies Ever, which boasts having more protein than an egg per brownie square. For a spicier version (that I expect would be a hit at parties), try No-Bake Chili Brownies, which take about 15 minutes to make and about 10 minutes to set, then they’re ready to scarf down.

Another option for coffee lovers is this recipe for Chocolate Almond Espresso Fudge Bars, a super easy recipe for raw, no-hassle fudge. And for those who like to keep things simple, try this “fudge yeah!” recipe for Black Bean Fudge.

Amaze-balls (aka: healthier truffles)

Who doesn’t love a cocoa-powder-covered truffle?? (If you have made it this far in the article, I highly doubt you’re raising your hand!) These are typically made with dates, figs or nut butter, with coconut shreds and other goodies mixed in. And of course, they are finished off with a good roll in the cocoa powder. It’s a dessert, to be sure, but when you use nature’s natural sugars like blended dates, it’s pretty hard to feel guilty. And they’re just as rich as “regular” truffles, so you’re not missing out, not by a long stretch.

This recipe for 5-minute Raw Paleo Fudge Balls looks divine. And I’ll never complain about truffles that take five minutes to make. Another winner is Raw Chocolate Amaze Balls, which also feature walnuts, a superfood food filled with important nutrients and healthy fats. Not a fan of walnuts? Okay, try out these Choco-Hazel Bliss Balls, which use hazelnuts.

A quick Google search will have you knee-deep in recipes for healthy versions of delicious amaze-balls, bliss balls, or whatever you want to call them.

Tips for buying cocoa powder

  • Look for certified fair trade. There are many great brands to choose from, and you’re helping to ensure workers get a living wage.
  • Look for organic. It’s true that not all organic cocoa tastes as good as non-organic, so you’ll have to test a few out and see what you like best. But if you can, go for organic.
  • Look for a higher fat content. Yep, you read that right. The really good cocoa that has lots of flavor (and therefore is more satisfying and you won’t need to use as much) has as much as 24 percent more fat than the cheap stuff.
  • Make sure you’re getting unsweetened cocoa powder, and not something that has sugars mixed in. Avoid packages labeled “ground chocolate” as this is basically powdered chocolate bars with added stuff we’re trying to avoid in the first place. Make sure the only ingredient is cocoa.

Cooking with cocoa nibs

If you have daily cravings for dark chocolate, you’ve got to try cocoa nibs. Never heard of them? These crunchy little gems are roasted and crushed cocoa beans that deliver the true essence of chocolate, without the sugar, and are delectably loaded with antioxidants.

From upscale dessert menus to your local health foods deli, cocoa nibs are growing in popularity and becoming more readily available. Here’s more on cocoa nibs and three cocoa nibs recipes to get your chocolate fix.

What are cocoa nibs?

Cocoa nibs, also called chocolate nibs or labeled as cacao nibs, are about as close as you can get to unprocessed chocolate. They are essentially roasted cocoa beans that have been separated from their husks and crushed into small bits. Because cocoa nibs are minimally processed, they boast more antioxidants than your candy aisle chocolate. Cocoa nibs are a health-conscious chocolate lover’s answer to satisfying a chocolate craving without the added sugar found in candy bars. Cocoa nibs can replace chocolate morsels in cookies or brownies and can be added to other baked goods or used as a garnish for desserts. Because cocoa nibs aren’t sweet, they can also deliciously lend their intense chocolate flavor to savory dishes.

Where can I buy cocoa nibs?

If cocoa nibs are a new ingredient for you, you’re probably wondering where you can buy them. Check with your local health food grocer, co-op or gourmet food market; if they don’t carry cocoa nibs, request an order. You can also buy cocoa nibs online. Be warned that, like chocolate bars, different brands will have their own unique flavors. My favorite source for cocoa nibs is NavitasNaturals.com. They also have a tasty assortment of other cocoa products including cocoa beans, cocoa powder, sweetened cocoa nibs, cocoa butter and cocoa paste.

Spicy dark chocolate mousse recipe

 

Cinnamon and a dash of chipotle powder give this decadent dark chocolate dessert recipe a spicy surprise while the cocoa nibs add a lovely crunch and intense depth of chocolate flavor.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1-1/3 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • Generous pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 6 ounces chopped dark chocolate (65-85 percent)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa nibs plus extra for garnish
  • Whipped cream for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 1/3 cup heavy cream, sugar and salt, and cook, stirring often, until cream comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon and chipotle.
  2. Place chocolate in a large bowl and pour hot cream over the top. Let stand for one to two minutes, and then stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
  3. Whisk in oil and vanilla until mixture is creamy. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile, pour remaining cream in a large bowl and use an electric mixer to whip until soft peaks form. Place whipped cream in the refrigerator until chocolate is cool.
  5. Use a spatula to fold one half of the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Gently fold in the cocoa nibs.

    Chicken mole recipe

    A savory recipe featuring the deep chocolate flavor of cocoa nibs, this chicken mole is a hearty family dinner recipe that also makes a scrumptious dish for guests. Serve with white or brown rice.

    Serves 6

    Ingredients:

    • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 2 tablespoons chili powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
    • 1 green bell pepper, seeded, chopped
    • 2 poblanos, seeded, chopped
    • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
    • 2 tablespoons almond butter
    • 1/3 cup cocoa nibs
    • 6 skinless boneless chicken breasts
    • 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Heat two tablespoons oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent.
    3. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, and cook, stirring, for two minutes.
    4. Add diced tomatoes, peppers, broth, almond butter and cocoa nibs, stirring to combine. Simmer on medium-low for 15 minutes. Puree sauce in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside.
    5. Heat remaining oil in a large saute pan over medium-heat and sear the chicken, browning both sides.
    6. Place chicken in a single layer in prepared casserole dish and pour mole sauce over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and cook for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
    7. Place chicken on a serving platter, cover with sauce, and garnish with almonds.Spoon or pipe mousse into four wine glasses. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or until set. Garnish with whipped cream, if using, and additional cocoa nibs.
      If you have daily cravings for dark chocolate, you’ve got to try cocoa nibs. Never heard of them? These crunchy little gems are roasted and crushed cocoa beans that deliver the true essence of chocolate, without the sugar, and are delectably loaded with antioxidants.

    Pumpkin cocoa nib bar recipe

    Pumpkin, coconut and chocolate are a delicious trifecta of flavors in this indulgent dessert bar recipe.

    Yields 24

    Ingredients:

    • 4 eggs
    • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
    • 1 cup coconut oil, melted
    • 1 (15 ounce) can pure pumpkin
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup cocoa nibs plus more for garnish
    • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil, solid at room temperature
    • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
    2. In the bowl of a standup mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs, sugar, melted coconut oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Remove whisk attachment and replace with paddle attachment.
    3. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
    4. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and blend on low speed until combined and smooth. Add cocoa nibs and blend until incorporated into batter.
    5. Spread batter evenly into prepared baking dish. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center. Place baking dish on a wire rack to cool for one hour or until room temperature.
    6. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and solid coconut oil. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Gradually add sugar and continue to mix on low speed until smooth. Beat in vanilla.
    7. Spread over pumpkin bars and sprinkle with extra cocoa nibs. Cut into bars and serve.

Choice Ingredient: Cocoa Powder

Learn: Similar to coffee, cocoa powder starts as beans―cocoa beans, from the cacao tree. After harvest, the seeds are fermented, roasted, and ground to create chocolate liquor. To make cocoa powder, the chocolate liquor is pressed to remove most of its fat, or cocoa butter, then ground again, resulting in a fine, dusky powder. Natural cocoa powder is acidic and slightly bitter, so a 19th-century Dutch scientist named Conrad van Houten found a way to neutralize the beans with alkaline chemicals, creating Dutch process cocoa powder, which has a smooth, mild chocolate flavor and a rich reddish-brown hue. Always check the label before purchasing. Dutch process cocoa may also be called “Dutched” or “alkalized,” while natural may only say “cocoa.”

Purchase: Thanks to variations in cacao trees, growing regions, and processing methods, you’ll find wide variation in flavor between brands of cocoa powder, and there are dozens to try. A good rule of thumb: If you like a particular manufacturer’s solid chocolate, you will probably like their cocoa powder as well.

Use: Cocoa powder is often used in baked goods. It also can be lightly sprinkled on top of tiramisu or other finished desserts for garnish. Cocoa powder has savory applications, too, as in modern versions of classic Mexican moles or the tablespoon that’s the “secret” ingredient in many homemade chili recipes.

Store: Keep cocoa powder in an opaque, airtight container in a cool, dark place; it will last up to two years. Place away from herbs and aromatic spices as it can easily absorb other flavors.