Cacao nibs are almost surely on the shelves at your local store, and you’re presumably aware that they have some link to chocolate. Yet a cocoa nib doesn’t seem to have anything in common with a chocolate bar from the shop, so you’re left wondering where the link is. Nevertheless the connection is extremely real, since those cocoa nibs are transformed into chocolate with the addition of sugar and maybe milk.
This is because cacao nibs are just crushed cocoa beans, which are the sole legal component in chocolate. In the eyes of the law, it doesn’t matter whether you call it baking chocolate, cacao paste, or cacao nibs. So, what is it that has taken so long for the concept of raw cacao nibs as a superfood to catch on? During the past several years, many people have gone out to sample nibs, expecting them to taste just like chocolate, and then discarding them when they don’t.
So, what exactly are cacao nibs, and how can you take advantage of their many health benefits? In this post, we’ll go over just that, as well as how to tell whether you’re getting high-quality nibs.
What Exactly Are Cacao Nibs?
Cacao nibs are bits of cacao beans, the raw ingredient used to make chocolate. These beans are really the seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, a tropical plant native to South America with fruits that grow directly on the tree’s trunk and branches. When mature, the outsides of the pods change color and contain a few hundred seeds.
Breaking open a cacao pod directly from the tree reveals a thick white pulp around the seeds, all of which are a vibrant purple when split in half. The purple hue is due to the high antioxidant content in these unfermented seeds, but it also makes them bitter and disagreeable. Before being processed into cacao nibs, the seeds are taken from the pods and put in heaps to ferment for 2-6 days.
This fermentation not only produces the rich, fudgy taste associated with chocolate, but it also kills the germs, the component of each seed that would grow into the root system, preventing each seed from becoming even more bitter. After fermented, cacao beans (as they are now known) must be dried, packed, delivered, cleaned, roasted, and individually broken open to expose the cacao bean fragments.
You can observe how a cocoa bean is naturally prone to split into little pieces if you gently peel it without breaking it. This natural crack pattern would have ultimately evolved into the branches of a cocoa tree, as well as the leaves and fruits it would produce.
Consider nibs to be the espresso beans of the chocolate world, in that they provide a robust crunch of the taste you know and love but are often too intense for the casual consumer.
Chocolate vs. Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs have a nuttier, deeper, earthier, and frequently bitterer flavor than dark chocolate. There is no milk or sugar to make cocoa nibs taste smoother and more balanced, so they strike your tongue more severely. Many businesses nowadays just get cacao from a huge provider, tick a box to purchase organic or not, and then repackage the nibs with their own label.
Theoretically, you get what you pay for, but poor grade cacao nibs may taste harsh, acidic, and flat, without the nuance of a good quality nib. Cacao nibs, on the other hand, vary from chocolate in more ways than simply the sugar and dairy content.
As cacao nibs are ground into chocolate, they release a variety of volatile acids that were generated during the fermentation process. These acids contributed significantly to the flavor of cacao, but if they are not allowed to leave, they may cause the chocolate to taste sour or acidic. Cacao nibs retain these volatile taste components, which contribute to their overall significantly stronger flavor when compared to chocolate, even 100% chocolate.
Cacao Nibs’ Health Benefits
Cacao nibs’ nutritional benefits could, and have, filled whole volumes. Cacao is generally healthful since it contains a lot of dietary fiber, heart-healthy fats, antioxidants, and trace elements. Cacao, in particular, includes a kind of plant-derived antioxidant known as flavonoids. Flavanols and cocoa polyphenols are two flavonoid kinds present in chocolate, as well as red wine and green tea, that combat aging at the cellular level.
Epicatechin is the most frequent kind of cocoa flavanol, and it is an antioxidant that is now extensively used as a supplement in bodybuilding since it enhances blood flow to the muscles and may even reduce blood pressure. Raw cacao nibs may have more antioxidants than roasted cacao nibs, but if they are genuinely raw (unroasted and unfermented), they will taste harsh and less like chocolate. Raw cacao nibs indeed taste like acidic soil.
Hundreds of cacao varietal trials have shown me that this is a universal truth (for the time being), and I just do not think that healthy meals should taste awful. Unsweetened dark chocolate, for example, contains trace minerals that your body needs to operate, such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Since these minerals and antioxidants are contained in cocoa solids rather than cocoa butter, neither blonde, ruby, or white chocolate will provide this advantage. But don’t dismiss the chocolates made with butter just yet; cocoa butter isn’t terrible for you in moderation. In truth, cocoa butter is primarily composed of four different kinds of fatty acids, the combined power of which has been found to have an overall neutral impact on the heart.
What Can You Do With Cocoa Nibs?
Cacao nibs have a variety of applications, but how you eat them is entirely up to you. Organic cacao nibs are normally the best option at the store, but the quality is usually superior if you can get cacao nibs or even full cocoa beans from a local chocolate maker. Although cacao nibs may be used to create chocolate, your kitchen blender is unlikely to produce the smooth texture youd expect from chocolate, which takes an average of 48 hours to refine.
Cacao nibs may be used to replace a part of the nuts or chocolate chips in certain recipes, however each recipe must be altered separately. Cocoa nibs, unlike cocoa powder, still contain around 50% fat (in the form of cacao butter), thus they give considerably more bulk to meals like smoothies or ice cream, as well as more nutrient-dense calories. They may be added to baked products or trail mix to provide the chocolate taste you desire, but with a little more nutritional fiber and absolutely no effect on blood sugar levels.
Adding cocoa nibs to your diet may be as easy as determining how you want to consume them. If you like sweeter chocolates, try combining them with fruits in a smoothie or sprinkling them over nondairy ice cream. If you appreciate the bitter complexity, you may eat them by the handful with raw almonds or pecans, as a midday snack, or on top of your favorite yogurt for a crunchy texture.
FAQ about Cacao Nibs
Cacao nibs have an earthy, somewhat acidic, intensely chocolatey flavor, and are typically bitter. Nevertheless, whether cacao nibs taste nice depends on your bitterness sensitivity and the quality of the cacao, with better grade nibs often being less bitter and acidic.
Cacao nibs are a less processed yet noticeably sweeter alternative to dark chocolate. Cocoa nibs will taste harsher and less palatable than their alluring perfume suggests because they lack sugar, which both sweetens and softens the effect of cacao’s flavor.
No. Cacao nibs cannot be melted because the structural distribution of fats and solids is such that the solids would begin to burn before the fat could ever melt, leaving the nibs to slowly smolder into ash.
The word cacao is pronounced kah-kow.
Cocoa is pronounced koh-koh, with the last a completely silent.
After consuming a lot of high % dark chocolate every day for over a decade, the maximum limit was g. g of cadmium, significantly below the 1.5ug limit Because of recent research on cadmium in chocolate, cacao nibs have been linked to cancer. Nonetheless, acute cadmium levels in chocolate are not a reason for worry unless you have a disease that enables you to retain every single molecule of metal that passes through your body; you will not acquire cancer by eating chocolate. For one thing, if you smoke, you are exposed to substantially greater quantities of cadmium in tobacco, as well as in common foods cultivated in cadmium-rich soil, such as rice or legumes. On a more scientific side, I had a triggered specimen test just last month that chelated any heavy metals that had been accumulated in my body over the years. The test then discharged them in order to assess their stored amounts in my body; I only have.38ug.