Cacao nibs are one of the most underappreciated ingredients I can think of, which is odd since almost everyone I know loves chocolate. Cacao nibs are small pieces of crushed cocoa beans. Keep crushing them and eventually you will have chocolate. Of course, you need to add milk, sugar, and some extra cocoa butter to get the stuff you see in grocery stores but cacao nibs aren’t meant to be enjoyed with all those extras. They are chocolate in one of the purest forms that you can find in your grocery store. They are the least processed chocolate product on the market meaning all the nutrients and antioxidants like iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, and copper are still intact. So, in my opinion, the best way to enjoy this superfood is to highlight its existing qualities. Using cacao nibs in recipes where its bitterness, its crunchiness, its fruitiness, and subtle yet pure chocolate flavor can enhance the recipe it’s in. Here are three ways I have been enjoying them and hopefully they inspire you to get some cacao nibs to try them out!
Crispy Cacao Nib Shortbreads
If you are worried about trying cacao nibs for the first time, I 100% recommend you making these cookies first since I'm pretty positive that they will convert you to a cacao nib lover. They are buttery, crispy, and slightly sweet with just a tiny touch of chocolatey flavor. Plus, they couldn't be simpler to make. Just 6 ingredients, less than 1 hour of your time, and you are on your way to a buttery shortbread cookie heaven!
P.S. if you’re really craving that chocolate kick add a little bit of melted chocolate on top!
1 stick of butter softened
⅓ cup of confectioners sugar
1 cup + 1 tablespoons of flour
Pinch of salt
Splash of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of cacao nibs
1 tablespoon of melted chocolate, optional
Sprinkle of rose petals, optional
In a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on, add in 1 stick of softened butter, ⅓ cup of confectioners sugar, 1 cup + 1 tablespoon of flour, a pinch of salt, and a splash of vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the dough comes together. This will take about 3 - 4 minutes.
Next, add in 2 tablespoons of cacao nibs and beat for another 30 seconds or until the cacao nibs are evenly dispersed throughout the dough.
Take the dough of the bowl and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Let chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Take the dough out and roll it about ¼ inch thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter stamp out as many cookies as you can and be sure to re-roll out your dough as many times as you need. This dough is very forgiving.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and place your cookies back in the fridge. Once your oven is preheated, bake the cookies for about 10 - 12 minutes. You only want them golden brown on the edges. Plus they will harden as they cool.
Once they have cooled off, drizzle some melted chocolate on top and enjoy!
Cacao Nib & Berry Yogurt Bowl
Trust me on this when I tell you that cacao nibs are the ingredient you’ve been missing in your yogurt bowl. Adding in a healthy sprinkling of cacao nibs combined with a drizzle of maple syrup gives you the perfect chocolatey flavor. Not overwhelming and bitter like a dark chocolate would be nor is it as cloyingly sweet as milk chocolate. It doesn't take over the entire flavor profile of your yogurt bowl, it’s there but it’s subtle. Plus, the crunch of the nib also adds texture to the creamy yogurt as well as balance to the sweet summer berries. With one spoonful you have everything you need… creamy, crunchy, sweet, fruity, and chocolatey.
1-8 ounce container of your favorite yogurt
¼ cup of blueberries
¼ cup of raspberries
1 tablespoons of cocoa nibs
Drizzle of maple syrup
Sprinkle of rose petals on top, optional
Scoop out all your yogurt out of its container and place it into a bowl.
Top with your freshly washed berries, sprinkles on your cocoa nibs, drizzle on your maple syrup and finish off with a sprinkle of rose petal. Enjoy!
Dark Chocolate Guajillo Hot Sauce
It’s weird to think that chocolate and peppers go well together but they do. The bitterness in the chocolate complements the fruitiness in the peppers while the sugars help tone down the overall spiciness. They both have bold flavors that pair very well and this homemade hot sauce is no exception. The cacao nibs and dark chocolate really just enhance the natural flavors of both the dried guajillo pepper and the dried chipotle peppers. If you are a fan of hot sauce/ spiciness I hope you give this recipe a try!
¾ cup of water
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 dried guajillo pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
2 dried chipotle peppers
2 tablespoons of of cocoa nibs
1 tablespoon of dark chocolate
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of vinegar
In a pot add in ¾ cup of water and bring to a boil. Then add in 3 cloves of garlic, 2 dried guajillo pepper, 1 fresh or dried jalapeno pepper, 2 dried chipotle peppers, and 2 tablespoons of cocoa nibs. Boil for about 10 minutes then shut the flame off and cover for 10 minutes.
Drain off all the water into a bowl and add the pepper mixture into a food processor. Add in about ¼ cup of the reserved pepper water along with 1 tablespoon of dark chocolate, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Blend until super smooth and add water if necessary. Serve with chips & guac!