Rogue Baking Tips with Alice Medrich

5 Sweet and Savory Things to Do With Cocoa Nibs

By • February 17, 2014 • 14 Comments

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Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.

Today: What, exactly, are you supposed to do with cocoa nibs? Alice tells all.

Cacao or cocoa nibs are bits of hulled cocoa beans. Most nibs are sold roasted (and those have the best flavor). They are unsweetened -- thus somewhat bitter -- and super crunchy, with intense and rather primal chocolate flavors.

More: 10 Chocolate Cookies. You're welcome.

Nibs were once found only in chocolate factories, where they were ground up and made into chocolate. Nibs are still the defining ingredient in all chocolate manufacture, but they are now also available in better supermarkets and specialty stores. You can use nibs in all kinds of sweet and savory ways. Here are five to get you started.

5 Sweet and Savory Things to Do with Cocoa Nibs

1. Sprinkle nibs on vanilla (or other) ice cream for a grown-up ice cream experience.

2. Add nibs -- in addition to or instead of -- nuts in cookie recipes.

3. Make cocoa nib-infused whipped cream: Bring 1/3 cup of roasted nibs to a simmer in 1 cup of heavy cream. Off heat, cover and let steep 20 minutes and then strain the cream into a bowl and discard the nibs. Chill the cream several hours before whipping it with a little sugar to taste.

4. Sprinkle nibs on salad (as you would nuts or seeds) of arugula or other greens. You can add one or a combination of the following: currants, shaved fennel, pomegranate seeds, crumbled goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, Niçoise olives.

5. Make nibby pesto: In a mortar (or mini food processor) pulverize 1/3 cup of nibs with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a gritty paste. Add and pulverize 12 Niçoise olives and a few fresh basil leaves. Mix in another 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil and salt to taste. Serve on toasted slices of French bread, plain or topped with prosciutto or shaved Parmesan or Asiago cheese. 

Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet. 

 

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (14)

Tags: cocoa nibs, cacao nibs, chocolate, how-to & diy, baking

Comments (14)

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7 days ago dianeshuggins

How long do you think nibs will last in the pantry?

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10 months ago eat chic

I love to top avocado toast with chili flakes, olive oil, sea salt, a squeeze of lime, black pepper, and a spoonful of cacao nibs. Sounds strange, but the combination of flavors and textures is excellent.

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10 months ago Alice Medrich

This sounds good to me! They are also good sprinkled on a warm buttered corn tortilla, or on a piece of toasted baguette spread with soft goat cheese.....

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10 months ago eat chic

Oh the baguette with goat cheese and cacao nibs sounds incredible. I will definitely try this over the weekend. Thanks for the tip!

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10 months ago jamcook

Thanks for the roasting tip Beth, I will try it soon. My nibs do not look as dark as the ones pictured, so I am almost certain that they are unroasted, or maybe only partially roasted

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10 months ago Sheedah Dee

That pesto is a great idea! Sheesh! I'll have to try that. Great article!

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10 months ago KateandLyssa

One of my favorite things to do with nibs is to grind up a few with my morning coffee and brew as I always do. So fragrant, so bitter, so good!

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10 months ago Beth100

For those of us with a stash of raw cacao nibs, I found the following reference on the web (haven't tried it yet:)
"To roast cacao nibs, pre-heat your oven to 300 F. Spread the nibs out on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (check them at 12 minutes and stir to ensure that the smallest pieces are not burning). Take them out of the oven when they start to smell like baked brownies."

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10 months ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

I'm pretty sure all nibs are sold already roasted. Actually, it's the cacao beans that are roasted, then cracked open, and the seeds crushed into nibs.

Via Daniel Prieto Preston, founder and CEO of Cacao Prieto, "cocoa is actually a misprint in an English dictionary from the mid-1850s, which became just sort of universally used.” Here's the story, in its entirety: http://www.wnyc.org/story...

I use cacao nibs all the time in baking. Great in chocolate chip cookies, waffles, pancakes, and I love them most in Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies (I think her recipe is on this site.)

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10 months ago Gourmet Traveller 88

Are cacao nibs always raw? I have only come across cacao nibs since I started reading about raw diet. And what is the difference between cocoa and cacao? Thanks

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10 months ago Alice Medrich

Most but not all nibs sold are roasted already, so do check the package and see if it says "roasted". Any that are packaged unroasted are likely to be labeled "raw". I prefer the flavor of roasted nibs....and I agree, that if you are going to roast them yourself, 300 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, with lots of tossing and mixing will do the job. When referring to nibs or beans, cocoa and cacao mean the same thing. There is confusion over the terms when used in other contexts, since cocoa is used in Britain to mean cacao, whereas here in the US we generally use the term cocoa for the powder that we use to make a beverage or bake a cake.

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10 months ago jamcook

I have the same question. I was given a bag of raw nibs, and was wondering if they could be home roasted or used in their raw state. Thanks

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10 months ago Beth100

Thank you for this temptation-filled post! I have raw cacao nibs - can I roast them in my oven?

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10 months ago LLStone

Thanks so much for these tips! I just ordered some nibs for cookies, but got more than I imagined. I will try all of these suggestions.