Jul 26, 2012

Nib News


Nibs News
There is a tasty ingredient making its way through the culinary world at lightning speed. Cocoa nibs are pieces of cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled and prepared to the point where they are basically raw chocolate.  But instead of turning them into chocolate bars by grinding them into a thick paste to and adding cocoa butter, sugar, milk and other flavorings they are used as is.

Nibs taste vaguely similar to roasted coffee beans. Nibs are a bit crunchier than coffee beans, since some coffee beans can become quite delicate after roasting. Since nibs are directly from the cocoa tree, they contain high amounts of theobromine, the ingredient that makes chocolate good for you.

Cocoa nibs are always found in small pieces, rather than coffee bean-sized pieces. The flavor is slightly nutty and, while there are definitely some chocolate notes in there, they are primarily going to contribute texture and a hint of bitterness (the same as raw cocoa powder). Depending on their origin, some beans will have a more complex flavor and interesting taste on their own. Cocoa nibs do serve to draw out darker notes in chocolate, which is why they are such a popular addition.

You’ll generally see cacao nibs incorporated into other chocolate products, or simply covered in chocolate and sold as a snack. They are also sold as is; ready to be used as a mix-in for baked goods and treats. You can use them along with, or in place of, chocolate chips or nuts in a cookie, for instance.

Cocoa Nibs are perfectly roasted cocoa beans separated from their husks and broken into small bits. They are the essence of chocolate. Nibs add crunchiness and subtle chocolate flavor to baked goods and savory dishes.  You can even substitute them for the chocolate chips, to add chocolate flavor without added sweetness.

Cocoa nibs can, of course be found in our store along with our collection of other unusual baking items. Here are two recipes to get you started on this flavorful ingredient. One is really simple while the other will take some time to prepare.



Dibs on Nibs Cookies

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup canola oil

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 cups cacao nibs, or more, to taste



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream together the oil, brown sugar, and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until light and creamy. Mix in the sifted ingredients until just blended.

Stir in the cacao nibs by hand using a wooden spoon.

Drop cookie dough 1/4 cup at a time onto the prepared cookie sheets. Cookies should be about 3 inches apart. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the edges are lightly toasted.

Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


Nibs Chocolate Cream Pie

For the crust:

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) margarine, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/3 cups flour


For the cocoa nib candy topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup light corn syrup

1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar

1 tablespoon margarine, room temperature

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1/4 cup cocoa nibs

1/4 cup pecans, chopped


For the chocolate filling

2 1/4 cups soy or rice milk, divided

6 large egg yolks

2/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

6 tablespoons good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder

4 teaspoons cornstarch

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 tablespoons margarine



For the topping:

12 ounces whipped topping, thawed

3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar



For crust:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish.

Mix margarine, sugar, and salt in medium bowl. Add flour and mix until well blended. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of prepared dish; crimp edges decoratively. Bake crust until golden brown and cooked through, about 18 minutes. Cool crust completely on rack. Maintain oven temperature.

For cocoa nib candy:
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Stir in cocoa nibs and chopped pecans. Drop mixture by tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheet, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until mixture spreads and is deep golden brown, about 18 minutes (mixture will flow together into 1 piece on baking sheet). Remove from oven; cool completely on sheet. Break candy into irregular pieces or shards. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store airtight in single layer at room temperature.)

For chocolate filling:
Bring 2 cups soy milk to simmer in heavy medium saucepan; remove from heat.

 Whisk egg yolks, brown sugar, vanilla, and remaining 1/4 cup milk to blend in a medium bowl; whisk in cocoa powder and cornstarch until smooth. Gradually whisk in hot milk mixture. Return mixture to saucepan. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and boils. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and margarine; whisk until melted and smooth. Pour filling into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate until filling is cold and set, about 4 hours. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and keep chilled.)

Cream topping:

Using electric mixer, beat cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Decorate the top of the pie with whipped cream and garnish with a piece of cocoa nib candy.


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