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A few weeks ago I bought a $13 chocolate bar for a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, then sort of forgot to give it to her. Over the course of several nights, I ended up accidentally eating it myself.
The bar was heavy, dark, and studded throughout with decidedly bitter cacao nibs—partially ground, irregularly-shaped cacao bean nuggets. These crunchy little nubbins make you sit up and take notice when you mash them between your teeth. They’ve got no sweetness, and their flavor is intense, but somehow the nibs make the perfect textural counterpoint to everything from cookies to banana bread to ice cream. I’ve even tossed cacao nibs in salads. It’s fun to watch friends’ eyes pop out of their heads when they first crunch down on one —they generally can’t pinpoint what they’re eating.
Cacao nibs are antioxidant-rich and high in fiber, and they’re becoming increasingly easy to find in larger supermarkets and health food stores. (You can also order them online.) Seek out those that are certified organic, if you can, and store them, once opened, in the freezer to preserve freshness.
If you come to my house, I’ll even let you try some. Unless, of course, I forget.