If I said the words “cocoa nibs” to you, what would it bring to mind? If you’re thinking this was the name of the shy, brown-eyed girl who sat behind you in second period chemistry, the answer would be no. :-) Cocoa nibs are chocolate in its purest form. They are dried and fermented bits of cacao beans, with the deep, dense, almost exotic flavor of chocolate, and the crunch of coffee beans.
Deeply chocolaty, cocoa nibs are not sweet, and this is what makes them so darned versatile. They work equally well in sweet dishes as they do savory. Toss them into salads for a nutty crunch, sprinkle them atop your morning oatmeal, add them to granola, or stir a spoonful into yogurt. Excellent in desserts (They do amazing things to brownies!), bakers will find them of particular use in topping cookies (as I did here) or added to streusel for extra crunch and a sophisticated taste. You can even snack on them right out of the box. Mix them in with your trail mix and you will have an amazingly healthy snack because they contain magnesium, fiber, iron, and antioxidants. They also act as mood enhancers thanks to phenylethylamine and anandamide.
Give these a try in your cooking, baking, and snacking. You’ll add a depth of flavor you’ll not believe!
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