Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Cacao Nibs

I am a Chocolate Geek. There are no other words for it.

While doing some of my Christmas shopping online, I was browsing the Peter's of Kensington site. This is a great place to get kitchenware, but I was poking around in their general brand list when I came across the Dagoba listing. I've seen Dagoba chocolate bars in my local organic shops and they've gotten some good press recently but I've never really been tempted. Until now. You see, I've always had a hankering to get my hands on some cacao nibs and David Lebovitz says to try these. So really, it's all just serendiptious and out of my hands.

$15 for 170g seems a little outrageous, but hey, this is a culinary experiment, right? I finished my shopping and added in a bag of nibs. Giftwrapped (to me). I love being able to open a little parcel, covered in gold paper and wrapped in ribbon. Particularly as I am just about to embark on our annual Christmas extravaganza. Like many women, I feel that this falls to me, due to the fact that Figman pretends to have the wrapping skills of a five year old. Without opposable thumbs. I think that this must be a charade, in order to spend more time in front of the Test Match, because I refuse to believe that a man who can assemble a barbeque cannot use sticky tape. Anyhow.

I came home from a minor grocery expedition in 32C heat to find a pile of parcels at the front door. A Christmas present from overseas, a giant box containing the Plumbaby's loot and a small Peter's box addressed to me. I opened the box (and tried to crush my guilt at all the packing and insulation for this one tiny package). I slowly unwrapped it and then stopped. Quick! To Bittersweet. Alice Medrich has a section on cacao nibs here and I simply must read her words before I open this long awaited (well two days really) packet.

I scan the pages impatiently but I do learn a couple of key things. Don't expect this to have the sweetness of processed chocolate. Taste the essence of chocolate. Think of the first time you took expresso. I pause, I ponder, I rip the packet open. One small pinch and UGH! How bitter!

I immediately shove a handful of Callebaut into my mouth to get rid of the taste, shuddering as I go. What the hell am I going to do with 167g of this? But an hour or so later sees me back at the counter turning the packet over again. One small pinch and ah ha! I taste it, I get it. It's not in the slightest bit sweet and lacks the rich indulgence of processed chocolate, but this really is chocolate. Alice Medrich has a range of recipes and if I can find my ice cream maker, I'd like to make the Double Cocoa Nib Ice Cream, but I'm really keen to experiment with the more savoury dishes.

The side of the packet reads as follows:
These nibs are sourced from a group of small-scale farmers located in southern Ecuador. Together with DAGOBA, these farmers are working to bring back the rare heirloom varietal known as Arriba Nacional. These nibs offer flavors of tangerine and red berry with a dark chocolate finish. A slight lavender floral bouquet gives sign to the Arriba Nacional bean.
It's not as sweet or immediately satisfying as a chocolate bar, but with time, I think it could be more suprising and sophisticated. We'll have to wait and see! Now where did I put that ice cream maker?


At 4:03 AM, Blogger cin said...

LOL about Figman's wrapping skills - all the wrapping falls to me too!

I've never tried cocoa nibs, but sounds interesting. I'll be dropping by for the icecream as soon as I get home :-P

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Niki said...

If they have a such an intensity, possibly it's not so awful that that were so expensive. Sounds like a little will go a long way.
I've been intrigued by cocoa nibs as well. I had some chocolate discs from Max Brenner with cocoa nibs throughout them and it was a great taste experience.
I seem to remember Clothilde making up something that included cocoa nibs a few months ago??


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