Cocoa Nibs are bits of fermented, dried, roasted and crushed cacao beans. Cocoa nibs are not chocolate pieces. They are roasted beans separated from their husks. But, since I'm all about chocolate, I see cocoa nibs as just chocolate in a different form--not sweet--since sugar isn't added. Nevertheless, they have a very unique chocolate taste and interesting texture. There are both raw and roasted cocoa nibs. I prefer roasted cocoa nibs. If you're going to buy cocoa nibs, go for organic, and definitely buy them from a chocolatier you like.
I use cocoa nibs in lots of ways, but my best advice is to use them sparingly until you get the hang of them. They're a bit bitter, and you won't want to overwhelm your dish. You'll soon figure out how many to put into your favorite foods. That being said, I use cocoa nibs in both savory and sweet dishes.
Add them to salads for some special crunch.
For an hors d'oeuvre, roll a log of goat cheese in crushed cacoa nibs.
Use as a crust on chicken.
Add them to chili.
Grind them up and use in your barbecue rub.
Add them to mole´.
Roll chocolate ganache truffles in chopped nibs in place of cocoa or nuts.
Add them to pancake batter.
Add them to granola or bake them into granola bars.
Mix into Greek yogurt (I add a little honey, too)
Throw them on your oatmeal.
Add them to smoothies.
Use them as sprinkles on cupcakes
Use them as sprinkles on ice cream.
Add them to brittle instead of nuts.
Use them instead of nuts or chocolate chips in Chocolate Chip Cookies. (see recipe below)
Add them instead of nuts in brownies.
Candy them with a caramel glaze.
Dip them in chocolate for another great snack.
Add some to your coffee grinder for a special blend.
Eat some plain.
And here's a surprising use: Chew some as a Breath Freshener.
And, if all else fails, have some around and just smell them. The aroma is quite heady!
Chocolate Chip Cocoa Nib Cookies
a variation on the traditional Toll House Cookie recipe
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate chunks)
3/4 cup chopped cocoa nibs
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and cocoa nibs. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.