What are cacao powder and cacao nibs?
Basically, chocolate. But in its simplest, healthiest and most nutritious form. It’s raw and unprocessed, making it better for you than cocoa powder.
Cacao or cocoa trees (Theobroma cacao), generally grow in South America. They fruit throughout the year. Each cacao pod contains between 30 and 50 large seeds. The pods grow directly from the trunk or on large branches of the tree and are harvested by hand several times a week using a long-handled knife. The pods are split with a machete to remove the pulp and seeds. These are then piled in heaps, placed in bins or laid out on grates to sweat for several days before being fermented and dried, often in the sun. Finally, the seeds are trodden and shuffled with bare feet and packed into jute sacks. At this point, they’re known as cacao beans.
Cacao powder is made by grinding cacao beans and extracting the cocoa butter (the fat element of the bean). It can be created from either fermented or non-fermented cacao beans. Most have been fermented as this reduces the bean’s natural bitterness and enhances the chocolate flavour.
Cacao nibs are simply peeled and chopped cacao beans.
Cacao powder is perfect for adding to smoothies, cakes, dips, spreads and for making your own chocolate. Use cacao nibs in cakes, muffins, granola and muesli and add to ice cream, puddings or porridge for extra crunch.
Always try to replace the cocoa powder with cacao powder in recipes, but don’t replace with cacao nibs as they have a completely different texture.