Cocoa nibs are roasted cocoa beans separated from their husks and broken in to small bits, not yet crushed or ground, not yet transformed into unsweetened chocolate or processed into smoother or more refined forms of sweetened chocolate. Simply put, nibs are cocoa beans on the brink of becoming chocolate and, as such, they are a unique and fascinating new ingredient. These little delicacies are a delightful treat for the adventurous.
Nibs are even crunchier than toasted nuts, and unsweetened, making them relatively bitter so they may take some adjusting to. You will find some nibs to have a sweetness and fruitiness and others will be nuttier. Some will be very astringent and some will be tart. If you are a taster, you will notice more flavors than you ever imagined were in chocolate, such as banana, peanuts, pineapple, lemon peel, cherries and coffee. But do not make the mistake of thinking nibs will act like chocolate chips!
Some of the uses for nibs are to grind some nibs with your coffee beans before making coffee; sprinkle nibs, as you would toasted nuts, on a simple salad of field greens dressed with good olive oil and red wine vinegar; add nibs to Bolognese sauce; make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe but omit the chocolate chips; sprinkle nibs on bread and butter; sprinkle with sugar if desired; sprinkle nibs over ice cream. My personal favorite is to mix the nibs with salted nuts of various kinds and add in bittersweet chocolate chips for a trail mix of sorts!
As I always say, “A balanced diet is chocolate in everything!”