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.

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