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Trader Joe’s Roasted Cacao Nibs, reviewed

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Trader Joe's Roasted Cacao Nibs, reviewed

Cacao nibs are one of my favorite “secret ingredients” to add to baked goods like chocolate chip cookies and brownies. Cacao nibs are pieces of roasted cocoa bean. The chocolate making process involves grinding up the roasted nibs into a paste, then adding additional ingredients – such as sugar, milk, etc – if needed to produce the finished chocolate product. The nibs themselves have a fruity, dark chocolate flavor and a substantial crunch, though they tend to be very small in size. I like adding them to recipes for the added texture, as well as for the way they enhance other chocolate flavors.

I was excited to see that Trader Joe’s recently began offering Roasted Cacao Nibs (they previously sold chocolate covered nibs near the register as a snack item – very tasty!) because I typically get my nibs from specialty baking stores or buy them in bulk online (Valrhona brand). Pouring out the nibs, I immediately noticed some differences between them and the sort I usually buy. They are in larger and more irregular pieces; some chunks were almost as large as almonds, while they’re typically much smaller and more uniform in size. It also seemed like there were pieces of husk still attached to the nibs, which means that they feel a little more like crunching on roasted coffee beans, rather than toasted nuts. The husks detracted a bit from the overall flavor of the nibs, as they don’t have that chocolaty-ness that you want in a nib, but they were still tasty, crunchy and snackable overall. I used them in  a batch of cookies and still enjoyed the flavor and texture that they added. That said, I prefer the kind I usually buy and will probably stick with those in the future instead of coming back for another bag of these.

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  • tiffany
    August 30, 2017

    are they supposed to be super bitter? I don’t taste any fruity or even a hint of sweetness in it. It is not “tasty”… I’m just afraid I got a bad batch, can you please clarify is this what is supposed to taste like? Thank you!

  • Nicole
    August 30, 2017

    Hi Tiffany, They definitely are on the bitter side, as well, since there is no sugar in them (unless you get the chocolate-coated kind). They’re basically what gets ground down into cocoa powder, which is quite bitter itself. Unlike cocoa powder, however, you will be able to pick out the fruity notes as you “practice” tasting them – just like you can with very dark chocolate or red wines. That said, they’re not usually meant to be eaten alone and are a great way to amp up the dark chocolate flavor (and add texture) to other foods, like chocolate chip cookies and granola. Even if you don’t like them on their own, I think you’ll really enjoy trying them in a batch of brownies or chocolate chip cookies. Start by mixing 1-2 tbsp into the batter and going from there. Have fun experimenting with them, as they can be a great addition to your pantry!

  • Amy
    September 1, 2017

    I was thrilled to find them when I recently stopped in to a store in Atlanta – there’s not one where I live. 🙁
    I haven’t tried them yet, but for $1.99/bag, I’m hoping I can’t go wrong.

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