Part way through the chocolate making process, after the beans are roasted, cracked and then winnowed to remove the shells, you’ve got nibs. Nibs are the meat of the bean and normally ground to make cocoa liqueur which continues on to become chocolate. You could eat nibs alone at this point and enjoy a fresh, minimally-processed food that’s high in antioxidants, but they would be too bitter for most of us (except as a topping on other foods). Coat them with chocolate, and voila – the best of both worlds – a fresh, raw center contrasting with a smooth, sweeter shell.
Pacari Chocolate produces an amazing array of bars and coated product from single-origin organic chocolate from Ecuador.
Although I’ve already reviewed some bars with nibs added, this is the first review of straight chocolate-covered nibs. Since nibs can’t really be compared to bars, I’m not going to offer a rating, but just keep it light and offer some impressions.
WHAT: Pacari Organic Dark Chocolate Covered Nibs. Cocoa origin: Ecuador from Arriba National cacao. 2oz (57g) Price range: $$$
WHEN: 7 August, 2009
AROMA: Inviting vanilla, toast, tobacco.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS: Apple, pear, citrus, honey.
MIDDLE TASTE: Blueberry, strawberry, fresh melon, almond, tea.
FINISH: Pistachio, cedar, burlap, tobacco. There is a period where all the sweetness and fruit disappears and you have some astringency and bitterness, but it was surprisingly mild and not unpleasant.
TEXTURE: Not as crunchy as you might expect. Remember cocoa beans are fermented, roasted, and ground making them softer and developing flavors along the way. Towards the finish there is a somewhat fibrous sensation for a while, but this goes away pretty fast and the nibs completely disappear. Nothing unpleasant.
LAST BITE: I’m not going to assign a numerical rating, but would highly recommend that you try these nibs. The intensity of the fruit notes rivaled any bar that I’ve tasted. You won’t have the kind of balance of creaminess, sweetness, fruitiness that you’ll find in a bar and certainly there is nothing smooth about the texture, but you will find a very interesting, assertive flavor profile that brings you closer to the raw bean.
You might also want to take a look at this more recent review on some of Pacari’s bars.
Disclosures: I paid for this chocolate myself.