Since my blog posts will deal primarily with different types of chocolate and chocolate products, I thought I’d start by delving into the sea of information on the latest “superfood”, theobroma cacao, or cocoa nibs.
Cocoa nibs are the part of the cocoa bean used in the manufacture of chocolate – the fermented, peeled, dried, roasted and crushed kernel of the cocoa bean that remains after the husk is removed. They are becoming popular as a “superfood”, not least due to their antioxidant qualities. They are available from several manufacturers of high-end chocolate as well as “healthy”, “raw” and “organic” purveyors, many located in the U.S. Much of this product is sourced from Peru, Ghana, Indonesia, Brazil, Ecuador, Togo, Mexico and even Papua New Guinea. Nibs can be purchased in packages or in bulk at most organic or health food stores, and are even starting to appear in mainstream supermarkets under various brand names.
Cocoa nibs are an acquired taste according to many. They are usually unsweetened and are therefore eaten as small morsels. They are typically mixed into baked goods, ice creams, etc. to add crunch and nutrition. The texture is unique, described best by Liz Gutman in her June 2, 2010 post “Serious Eats Sweets – What to Do with Cocoa Nibs: “crunchy yet tender, like a macadamia nut, with the mouth-cooling properties bestowed by the magical substance that is cocoa butter; and complex, with a bitter cocoa flavor.” mobile.sweets.seriouseats.com.
One ounce of cocoa nibs contains 130 calories, 13 grams of fat, 10 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of protein. They are one of the best dietary sources of magnesium, and a good source of calcium, iron, copper, zinc and potassium.
Studies show that cocoa nibs have higher antioxidant levels than blueberries, red wine and green tea. The antioxidants in cocoa nibs are also more stable than in other foods and are easy for the body to assimilate.
Here is a link to the article I quoted from, regarding all the purported health benefits of cocoa nibs – please click on it and have a look around!
Here are a few reputable on-line sources for purchasing cocoa nibs:
The Spice House roasted nibs: their taste is nicely bittersweet, and they have the crunch and toasty flavour of roasted nuts. They generally appeal to fans of dark chocolate. They also come covered in 70% chocolate with a hint of espresso. http://www.thespicehouse.com/spices/roasted-cacao-nibs
Sweet Riot Cocoa Nibs – 1.5 calories a pop, genetically-modified ingredient-free, and fair trade! A trifecta! www.bestowed.com
Amazingly, even Bulk Barn (Toronto area) sells bittersweet-covered cocoa nibs now, although I can’t personally vouch for the quality. I can, however, vouch that they smell delicious, and I might be persuaded to try them out as a more affordable option.
Here are some Canadian on-line order sources:
And finally, each time I research a different type of chocolate, I will include at least one recipe centred around it. Here are a few delicious ways to use your cocoa nibs. Enjoy!
- Sprinkle them on yogurt, in cereal and on top of ice cream for a flavourful treat.
- Turn a boring breakfast into something spectacular by mixing a few in your oatmeal.
- You can also grind them with your coffee beans, put them in smoothies and add them to trail mixes.
- They can even jazz up a peanut butter sandwich.
From one of my favourite magazines, Bon Appetit: Cocoa nib, chocolate and citrus dacquoise.
Suggested wine pairing: ruby port, merlot or medium-bodied, fruity red dessert wine
Suggested wine pairing: Medium-bodied fruity dessert wine such as Italian reciotos, or sherry
And, from one of my most-frequented chocolate websites (yes, I actually do surf chocolate websites, and collect chocolate cookbooks): Double cocoa nib ice cream.
Suggested wine pairing: Beaujolais, pinot noir