Cooking 101

Cooking 101 – Hack Your Cacao Nibs

Hack Your Cacao Nibs ……

cacao-nibs4There is one thing that I absolutely hate in life and that is waste. It nearly kills me to waste food, or buy something that I end up not liking, and then tossing it. I generally try to find a way to re-purpose it into something that is edible, and enjoyable. When food gets thrown away, I feel like I’m just throwing away money. And I don’t know very many people who like to throw away money.

About 4 years ago cacao nibs were all the rage and there were claims of how amazing they were. I didn’t buy them at the time because they were just too expensive. About three months ago I was sent a bag, along with a bag of raw cacao powder, to try. I was so excited, and then I tried them, and that is when my excitement quickly faded. I knew that they wouldn’t be sweet, but they were like chewing on really bitter Grape Nuts. (I’m sure you remember the cereal.) The cacao nibs texture was almost like a coffee bean, but a coffee bean tastes better. So, I tried roasting them, tried them in yogurt, tried them in cookies, and they were just gross. So, they have been sitting in my pantry for about three months now just looking at me every time I open the door.

cacao-nibsYesterday the kids wanted me to make some chocolate muffins and I was out of cacao powder, but those cacao nibs were still just sitting there. I decided to grind them up in my coffee/spice grinder and see what happened. I honestly don’t know if I will ever buy regular cacao powder again. Grinding the nibs turned them into cacao powder, but almost sticky cacao powder. It was more of a cacao liqueur because of how it basically turned into a paste. It was darker, and richer, than regular raw cacao powder, and definitely much better than cocoa powder. Usually I use a hand sifter to break up clumps in my cacao powder, but that was a mistake to try with the ground cacao nibs because it was too moist, so don’t do that. 😉

cacao-nibs2Unlike “dry” cacao, or cocoa, powder the clumps smooth out as soon as liquid is introduced, so no worries about making something and biting into a bitter clump of unsweetened powder. I decided to give it a try in two different recipes just to see how it acted, and it was a success in both. The first recipe was my kids favorite, go to chocolate muffins (I’ve made a few changes, I should do an update post on those.), and the other recipe was my homemade milk chocolate recipe. (The one I made was dairy free milk chocolate, you can look for it around Valentine’s Day.) The only thing I’d really make note of about grinding up your cacao nibs is the fact that it can go rancid because of the fresh oils that are released. So, if you aren’t planning on using what you have ground within a few days I recommend putting the rest in the freezer. Super simple, really easy, and so fresh and indulgent. When it comes to chocolate, and cooking, you can never go wrong with fresh, good quality, ingredients. Grind some nibs, make your favorite treat, sit back, relax, and enjoy!

cacao-nibs3What are your thoughts on cacao nibs?

Do you use unsweetened cocoa powder, raw cacao powder, or ground cacao nibs in your recipes?

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