Do you know what are chocolate chips? Do you know what are cocoa nibs? They are both considered chips. As you know, chips come in many sizes, shapes and forms. I thought I had tried them all until I started taking the Chocolate University Online course. Maybe you haven’t heard of the nibs either but when chopped they are an unprocessed form of chips. Unlike regular chips, these have a bitter taste.
My Nib Crusted Chicken Breast
When asked what are chocolate chips I never knew to include anything like cocoa nibs. The chocolate facts of my course awoke me to the cocoa nib. It is the cocoa bean (or the seed from the cocoa tree) after the shell is removed. The nib is very high in antioxidants. Nibs are ground into products like chocolate liqueur, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. You can purchase these already shelled in some health food stores. I received some from Ecuador with the shells on so I did the shelling by hand. It was an experience! My fingers were sore for days.
You may remember me telling you about this course before. I thought I knew all there was to know but I found some interesting things that got my attention, especially when talking about what are chocolate chips or I should say what are cocoa nibs. I could immediately envision recipes I wanted to try using these nibs like a chocolate chip cookie recipe ,a breaded chicken breast recipe or a chocolate cookie recipe but I still cannot call it a “chocolate chip crusted chicken breast”.
My first try at this recipe needed improvement for two basic reasons. One the bitterness of the nibs came across too much. Second, I put too much of the crust mixture on each chicken breast to where it overwhelmed the flavor of the chicken. My next try was greatly improved. I added a little sugar to counteract the bitterness of the nibs. Instead of making one whole chicken breast, I spread the mixture more lightly and made two whole breasts. I chose sage as a flavor because the course says sage goes with chocolate and I like sage. The recipe is below.
BREADED CHICKEN BREAST RECIPE (made with cocoa nibs)
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.
Oil a baking pan or baking dish with a little olive oil.
Each whole chicken breast makes two filets. Pound the breast out just to make overall even. Do not make them thin.
In a blender, blend cocoa nibs until fine. Add bread crumbs, pepper flakes, sage, garlic and salt. Blend another minute to mix. Dump mixture into a small bowl and scrape all from bottom of the blender; stir to mix well. Add melted butter and blend in. Divide mixture in half and put half in another bowl.
Lay chicken breasts out on a board. Take the mixture in one of the bowls and divide evenly over the four chicken filets. Pat it into the chicken. Carefully flip each chicken fillet over onto the oiled baking pan, having the crust side down on the pan. With the second bowl of crumb mixture, divide evenly on top of the four chicken fillets. Spread out evenly and pat into the chicken.
Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn each chicken breast over. Return to the oven for 15 minutes longer or until chicken is done.
Since learning truly what are chocolate chips or (what are cocoa nibs) I decided to try them in my coconut oatmeal cookie recipe and in making eggless brownies. I really do like them in dessert recipes; maybe it is a mental thing. I chopped the nibs more coarsely for the desserts. In all my recipes, my goal was to get the taste and texture of the nibs. Being a seed, they are not as crunchy as nuts but do add much texture which chocolate chips do not. They blend quite well in dessert recipes because the recipe already has the sugar which counteracts the bitterness of the nibs.
As I learned what are chocolate chips and what are cocoa nibs, you could actually use both in one recipe and get to different flavors; the creamy chocolate and the crunchy nut like flavors. Some products of the cocoa nibs are chocolate liqueur and cocoa powder. In this recipe for eggless brownies I used Hershey’s cocoa powder for a basic chocolate flavor, then gave it extra chocolate “punch” with “Godiva” chocolate liqueur and then I added crunch with the cocoa nibs.
Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
Grease and lightly flour a 9x13 inch baking pan.Measure in a mixing bowl the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt and soda. Add the oil, vanilla, vinegar, 2 tablespoons chocolate liqueur and sour cream. Mix until blended and smooth. Add the cocoa nibs and blend in well.
Dump mixture into prepared pan and smooth out evenly. Bake for 25 minutes or until brownies test done. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Prick top of brownies with a fork. Spoon the 1/3 Cup of chocolate liqueur over the top letting it run into the fork holes. When cold you can sprinkle with sifted powdered sugar or frost with the following.
Combine all ingredients except milk. Gradually add enough milk to make desired spreading consistency.
The very first sweet recipe that I tried when I learned what are chocolate chips or nibs was a combination of oatmeal and coconut. They were delicious but if you did not know that nibs were in them you might think they were just nuts. The coconut and oatmeal seemed to overpower the flavor of the nibs. Try the following recipe.
COCONUT OATMEAL COOKIE RECIPE
Cream together the butter and sugars, adding the egg and vanilla while beating. Add the flour cinnamon, soda, coconut, oats and nibs. Mix thoroughly until well blended. Chill for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Spray cookie sheet with oil.
Roll cookie dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. With a fork, dip in sugar and flatten cookies. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cookies are set.