Cocoa nibs: Roasted, peeled and crushed up cocoa beans. Also, my new obsession! I’ve seen these little things around for the last couple of years but never thought much about them. I love chocolate, so you would think that I would have tried them by now but as you know just because you watch TV doesn’t automatically mean you watch Mad Men (which we don’t). I don’t know exactly what spurred me to give them a try, but the accumulated exposure to them in a zillion food blogs and all over Pinterest probably brought us to this point. Well, I threw some into a batch of semifreddo a couple weeks ago and now I’m obsessed! The bitter, chocolatey/coffee flavor plus the added crunch these provide is something that I don’t know how I lived without all this time. So of course I had to make some cocoa nib macarons with them!
Each ounce of cocoa nibs contains:
3 grams of protein
10 grams of carbs
13 grams of fat (but doesn’t raise cholesterol)
Cocoa nibs are a good source of potassium, chromium, copper, calcium and zinc. Cocoa nibs are also a rich dietary source of magnesium (which many Americans lack). They are chock full of antioxidants which as you know fight off disease. The flavanols in cocoa nibs also help with emotional and cardiovascular health. It’s like eating a bunch of chocolate without getting all the sugar you don’t want. A big win in my book! They can be added to ice cream, yogurt, tossed in your cereal or just eaten in small handfuls (although by themselves they can be an acquired taste for some people).
So for my first official treat featuring cocoa nibs, I made macarons (are you surprised?) filled with a bitter espresso ganache. To add some flare and texture I topped the shells with a light sprinkle of nibs just before they went into the oven to bake. They add this crunchy chocolate coffee flavor and are just… yum. Teamed up with the ganache they help to balance the intense sweetness that macaron shells have. My desserts always have to have a balance of flavors and textures so when you eat it you are not overwhelmed by sweetness and can eat more than one. That my friends, is what I consider a mark of success. Expect to see nibs pop up a lot this summer.
The macaron shells were the same basic shell recipe I have used many times. This is what they look like with no color added. A simple, light creamy tan that is the perfect color for visual balance (more balance!) with the dark colored bitter espresso ganache and the multicolored/textured nibs.
Basic Bittersweet Espresso Ganache
The ganache is very simple (4oz+1tsp)+(4oz+1tsp) = ganache!
4 oz heavy cream
1 tsp unsalted butter
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 tsp espresso powder
In a bowl add the chocolate and espresso powder. In a small pan, bring the cream and butter up to a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir gently until the mixture is smooth and glossy. Let completely cool to room temperature before using.
Pipe it onto your shell halves and stick them together before trying to eat the whole lot. Don’t forget to be nice and share with a few people!