Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lovely Little Nibs

Mmm...I'm in love with my nibs. You know what they are, right? Yep-cocoa nibs. These are the roasted, cracked, and shelled cocoa beans. Eventually nibs are ground into a paste and processed into the chocolate we all know and love. But, the nibs themselves, something of a new revelation for consumers, are a crunchy, smoky, nutty like snack that you either love or hate. If you are like me and the darkest chocolate imaginable is your favorite, you'll love nibs. If you eat chocolate for the sweet and favor milk vs. dark, I am guessing you'll agree with my husband and say the nibs 'taste like dirt'. Whatever!

Rob and Debra brought me a bag of chocolate coated caramelized nibs over Christmas. I couldn't stop eating them! Not too sweet, crunchy like a nut, and caramelized for a perfect balance of flavors. They came from a place in NY called Pure Dark, I've mentioned them here before. Their website doesn't tell you much-no mail order or product catalog. I've even emailed in hopes of getting more info but, no reply.

I came home today to a refill. Debra, my soon-to-be sister in law, sent me a box with roasted nibs and caramelized nibs. I hadn't tried the plain, roasted nibs so I opened them first. I loved them too-no sweet note like their caramelized cousins but, still smoky with the chocolate background.

I felt like they'd be perfect IN something. Granola would be great but, I needed a quick fix so I made cookies. Simple butter cookies, not as crunchy as a shortbread but, small domed cookies dotted with the nibs. I didn't cook the first batch long enough but after adding a few minutes to the second batch I was very happy. It was a buttery, not too sweet, cookie with the added crunch from those cocoa nibs. I'm going to keep playing around-more cookies, definitely granola, and who knows what else.

In the meantime, enjoy!

Butter Cookies with Cocoa Nibs

1 stick butter, room temp
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup roasted cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar,
and salt together until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. Add
the flour and cocoa nibs and mix on low speed until the mixture begins to form large clumps and holds together when you squeeze it gently. Roll the dough into 1-inch balls (I like mine small but you can certainly make them a bit larger). Place the cookies about 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the bottoms are golden and the tops are just lightly browned, about 18 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 3-4 minute then transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 2 dozen+ cookies

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