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Cracking the Cocoa Nib

By Cook's Illustrated Published November 2015

Everything you ever wanted to know about cocoa nibs, and how to use them.

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Cocoa nibs are the fermented, roasted, and cracked pieces of cacao beans that manufacturers process to make chocolate. They are dry and crunchy and have the bitterness of unsweetened chocolate or coffee, tempered by a slightly fruity acidity. Cocoa nibs don’t melt when heated, but their cocoa butter comes to the surface. While they can be sprinkled on oatmeal or yogurt or cooked into a chili, they are usually incorporated in baked goods. In tests, we found that they are best suited to applications like banana bread where there aren’t a lot of other competing flavors (or textures), although we did like them a lot in a granola made with dried cherries and almonds. Use 1/2 to 2/3 cup of cocoa nibs per 9-cup batch of granola, loaf of quick bread, or dozen muffins.