If you love chocolate, then you're really going to love cacoa nibs. But ... what exactly are cacao nibs?
Answer: dried, roasted cacao beans. In other words, pure chocolate that hasn't been introduced to sugar yet. In terms of flavor, these little morsels deliver rich chocolate flavor and have a crunchy bite that's very satisfying, but they're not at all sweet. In fact, cacao nibs have a slightly bitter undertone similar to baking chocolate -- only better and far more complex.
There's another reason to get excited over cacao nibs: they're highly nutritious! It would even be fair -- and accurate -- to refer to cacao as a superfood. The beans, which are the seed pods of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao), an evergreen in the mallow family that's native to the Americas, contain a significant amount of vitamins A, B-1, C, E and pantothenic acid, as well as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium and potassium. Cacao beans also have a very high concentration of flavonoid antioxidants, up to four times greater than that of green tea.
By now you're probably wondering what to do with these little gems. Glad you asked...
Brew ground roasted cacao nibs & ground coffee together for a special treat.
Add to cookie dough, brownie mix or quick bread batter in place of nuts or chocolate chips.
Sprinkle over ice cream, puddings, custards and cakes.
Toss into green salads (no joke!). Especially good with arugula, spinach, pomegranate seeds and shaved or roasted fennel.
Add to fruit salads and fruit smoothies.
Make a pesto with nibs, Niçoise olives, fres basil and olive oil. Serve with crostini topped with prosciutto and shaved Parmesan.