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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
- Whisk in oil and vanilla until mixture is creamy. Set aside to cool completely.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.