Salt has earned a very bad reputation, and unfairly so. Unrefined salt has a wide range of minerals including potassium and magnesium, providing the body with a complex of nutrients that it needs to function optimally. Continue reading
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To say that I adore Pizza is putting it mildly! Pizza is right up there with Prime Rib for me! I use Donya Marie’s Dark Chocolate Bloody Mary Mix to make my Marinara sauce which makes master pieces of my Lasagna and … Continue reading
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!”
The components of chocolate have and will always intrigue me. I guess that’s just one of the many reasons for my obsession with it! One of the components that has many facets is cocoa butter. An interesting and necessary ingredient in many things.
Cocoa butter is the natural fat extracted from the cacao bean. Also known as oil of theobroma. It is faint yellowish in color, and while it is extracted from chocolate, it has a bland taste and only a faint chocolate smell. It is edible and is used in making white chocolate (not really chocoalte) and certain confections, but has many uses beyond the kitchen. The most desirable quality of cocoa butter is its stability as a fat, containing natural antioxidants that also preserve it well. Cocoa butter has a melting point just below average body temperature, which is what causes chocolate to remain solid at room temperature, but melt in the mouth. It gives a smooth texture to many confections containing chocolate and is often used by culinary experts in a baking capacity.
Cocoa butter is also used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products. In the pharmaceutical industry, cocoa butter is used in the making of suppositories and oral medications in capsule form. This should make you feel better about putting in suppositories! It has the ability to retain a molded shape while containing commonly used medicinal chemicals without unstable reactions. The use of cocoa butter as an inactive ingredient in capsules and suppositories is equally desirable because it is safe.
Cocoa butter is often found as an additive to cosmetics, shampoos and soaps, but it is also a natural emollient making it ideal for lotions and lip balms. The moisturizing abilities of cocoa butter are frequently recommended for prevention of stretch marks in pregnant women, treatment of chapped skin and lips, and as a daily moisturizer to prevent dry, itchy skin. The fact that is a natural preservative and has a faintly pleasant aroma further lends benefits to its cosmetic uses. Some people believe that cocoa butter has the ability to reduce or diminish the appearance of scars. However, some argue that this is a theory that is yet proven. It is said to promote elasticity in the skin and will aid in the healing of chapped skin if it is used regularly. Cocoa butter is often mistakenly used by people to expedite a suntan and while it will enhance a natural tan, it does not have a sun protection factor (SPF). Whatever the verdict on these “theories”, one thing is for certain; cocoa butter is not harmful to you.