Friday, April 26, 2013

Using Cacao Nibs to Make Chocolate at Home

Updated August 23, 2016

Whole cacao beans are not always easy for the average consumer to find.  And when you do find them, the beans need to be shelled, which is a messy process that may leave you vacuuming your kitchen for a week. So one way to make chocolate 'from the bean' in your own kitchen is to use cacao nibs.  These are considerably easy to find compared to whole beans, and the shells have been removed, so you will have less of a mess to clean up after you have made your home-made chocolate.

I have recently used three brands of cacao nibs that are readily available in stores (and online). Giddy Yoyo (Toronto), Camino and Organic Traditions.

Giddy Yoyo sells Wild Ecuadorian Heirloom Cacao in 454 gram (1 lb) bags, which is the largest package size that I have found in stores (at HomeSense). The flavour was mild and not too acidic. Giddy Yoyo also makes and sells raw chocolate and promotes a raw food lifestyle. I made chocolate from these raw cacao nibs once, then I roasted them to taste the flavour difference.  Truthfully, I preferred the roasted flavour of my homemade chocolate best (see below for roasting instructions).

Camino sells 100 gram bags of organic and Fair Trade cacao nibs that come from Peru. Also raw, these nibs were tangy and acidic and offered a lot of bold flavour to my homemade chocolate. Once roasted, they also made for a great snack 'as is', if you can get used to the flavour of unsweetened nibs. Camino is available in many stores across Canada, like Loblaws and Superstore and these nibs can also be purchased online. I bought three cases!

Organic Traditions offers nibs in 227 gram (1/2 lb) bags. Also a little acidic, these are probably the most widely available in Ontario; I have found them at both Independent Grocer and HomeSense.  With an unspecified origin, the packaging lists these nibs as organic. They are also raw.

I have seen nibs at American grocery stores in the health food section and I am sure that a health food store in your area would carry them.  Or you can purchase nibs in both small and large quantities from Nuts.com (1 lb, 5 lb and 20 lb bags).  They also sell peeled cacao beans, although they are more expensive and basically the same thing.  Also, Nuts.com sells a Criollo variety of unpeeled cacao beans.  While you are on their website, check out the cacao butter selection.  Cacao butter is not easy to find, but you may want to add some while making chocolate to 'grease' your mixing equipment.

Where else you can buy cacao nibs online? Navitas Naturals Online sells 4 oz, 8 oz and 16 oz bags. In Canada, Upaya Naturals sells a Sunfood brand online. And for those serious about making fine flavor chocolate, make sure you visit the Chocolate Alchemy website for nibs or beans. For people on the other side of the world, Life Foods - a New Zealand website also sells cacao nibs. 

If you are starting a chocolate business and looking for a steady supplier of cocoa beans and nibs, check the more recent list that I have posted on the blog here: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2016/08/where-to-buy-cocoa-beans-nibs-and-other.html.


Roasting Instructions for Cacao Nibs

To roast cacao nibs, pre-heat your oven to 300 F.  Spread the nibs out on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (check them at 12 minutes and stir to ensure that the smallest pieces are not burning).  Take them out of the oven when they start to smell like baked brownies.


Quick Recipe for Making Chocolate at Home from Cacao Nibs (62% dark chocolate):

Click here for measurements for an 82% dark chocolate and here for a recipe that calls for coconut sugar instead of cane sugar with 76% cacao solids, and visit here for a recipe for 70% dark chocolate as well as 62% dark-milk chocolate.
  1. Grind 4 oz of roasted (or raw if you prefer) cacao nibs in a small, single blade coffee grinder.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Grind 2 ounces of dry sugar crystals (coconut or cane sugar) in the same coffee grinder.  Add the scraping of one vanilla bean if you like and grind with the sugar. Add to the bowl with the cacao beans.
  3. Pour the ground cacao beans, sugar and vanilla bean into a dry blender. Start to blend on high.  Let mix for a few minutes. 
  4. Meanwhile, melt about a 1/2 ounce of cacao butter over a double boiler or in the microwave (for 2 minutes on half power).  Add to the blender.  You will notice your chocolate becoming liquid as your blender warms up and the warm cocoa butter also begins to melt your chocolate.
  5. Ensure that your blender is not overheating.  Turn on and off if it is and try to blend for about 10 minutes in total. 

If you have a thermometer and your chocolate is about 88 degrees F, then pour it into a chocolate mold (or a small square pan or plastic container if you do not have molds) - you may get lucky and it will be in temper! If your chocolate is a bit white-ish or streaky once cooled, you will need to temper it. Since you are making your own chocolate from scratch, you will not be able to use the 'seed' method to temper it. Here are my detailed instructions for tempering chocolate in three ways: http://ultimatechocolateblog.blogspot.ca/2014/04/there-is-more-than-one-method-to-temper.html.

For choosing moulds, I find the thinner the pieces, the better the taste since your chocolate will be a little gritty still (you need to upgrade your equipment and spend about $300 on a 'chocolate refiner', also called a melangeur, if you want to make smooth chocolate at home. To buy one, search 'Santha'  or 'Premier Chocolate Refiner' in Google).

Contact me at info at ultimatelychocolate.com if you have any concerns with your homemade chocolate project or this recipe. Good luck!

Below are some pics of the chocolate that I have made in my blender and Ninja smoothie attachment (which works better than the three-blade larger blender attachment), and although some can look perfectly smooth in photos, don't be fooled, blender chocolate still has a little unrefined grittiness to it.  But the pride of making it yourself ensures it always tastes great :-) .


Homemade bean-to-bar chocolate made with Peruvian cacao beans
purchased from Jedwards Int.
Milk and dark chocolate made in the Ninja Smoothie
attachment on the Ninja Blender.



Brazil origin chocolate made from cacao sent to me by an organic cacao farm -
rustic-style dark-milk chocolate has a little crunch and tastes delicious!


Brazil Origin dark chocolate with a smooth look but a rustic crunch.


Ground chocolate ready for tempering.
This was my smoothest 'blender chocolate' batch yet.


From bean-to-fish! I poured my tempered homemade
dark chocolate into fish-shaped ice cube moulds to get this fun shape.

30 comments:

  1. I'm going to try this. I tried melting cacao nibs....stood over a double boiler for an hour and nothing. then i took them off and tried grinding them in a coffee maker. I went back to the double boiler added some coconut oil. it melted a bit. Got fed up and added coconut milk, xylitol, salt and put into a molding pan. Sitting in fridge. Hope it comes out ok. I'll try the blender next. Hope that works.

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    Replies
    1. If you add any liquid with even a small percent of water, you no longer have chocolate. You have ganache. You probably figured that out with the coconut milk. :)

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  2. Sounds amazing! What type of blender do you use for grinding? Thank you!

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    1. Hi! Right now I am using a Ninja with triple the blades. I have used others that were less expensive. You can use any blender - just needs to have sharp blades and a decent motor. You can also use a food processor or even better, a Champion Juicer for smoother chocolate.

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    2. Hi Lisabeth,
      How do you use the champion juicer for this method?

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  3. What fun! Putting this on my list of things to do with my homeschooled kids. They will think it's so much fun!!

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  4. I like hot choc can the nibs melt in heated almond milk? Nancy

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  5. Tried making this after I found a recipe for 1 ingredient ice cream (banana) and wanted chocolate and all we had was cacao nibs. It came out as this fantastic, smooth, sweeter dark chocolate! We used coconut oil instead of cacao butter with no issues. Second attempt we added cayenne pepper for a spicy dark chocolate that was then blended into the banana ice cream.. out of this world! Thanks so much for the recipe!! Definitely a keeper. Used in my nutri-bullet with no problems.

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  6. What percentage does this make? I like mine dark, around 70%-80%. If it is a lower percentage, how can I make it darker?

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  7. Cacao nibs don't "melt" as they aren't a paste, they are bits of a grain.. They need to be milled or ground.

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    1. So true, but once they are ground long enough, they do melt into liquid chocolate. It's tough to do in the blender without added cacao butter, but is possible. They just can't be melted before they are ground, as some of the readers have asked about above. Thanks for your comment!

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  8. My wife and I import cacao beans from the Dominican Republic and sell them in order to support a school and build homes in the D.R.. We have @ 700 lbs. of mild roast and 700 lbs. of medium roast nibs. These are organic and direct trade La Red beans. We have some great recipes as well. Check us out. www.Cacaogood.com.

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  9. Cacao Nibs to Make Chocolate at Home
    If you have a thermometer and your chocolate is about 88 degrees F, then pour it into a chocolate or choosing molds, I find the thinner the pieces, the better the taste since your chocolate will be a little gritty still.(This chocolate is very smooth, sweeter dark and healthey)See more...

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  10. To roast cacao nibs, pre-heat your oven to 300 F. Spread the nibs out on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (check them at 12 minutes and stir to ensure that the smallest pieces are not burning). Take them out of the oven when they start to smell like baked brownies. (This cooies are best food )See more...

    ReplyDelete
  11. To roast cacao nibs, pre-heat your oven to 300 F. Spread the nibs out on a cookie sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes (check them at 12 minutes and stir to ensure that the smallest pieces are not burning). Take them out of the oven when they start to smell like baked brownies. (This cooies are best food )See more...

    ReplyDelete
  12. i prepared some chocolate at home today. I only added some sugar to it but it tastes very bitter. what would be the reason??
    Any suggestions to make it taste good

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi! Chocolate made at home in this way can be very bitter. The beans are a big part of it, likely. Some of the off-the-shelf store brands are very acidic, and without the equipment to conche the chocolate (i.e. a Santha melangeur, or some other equipment that let's you grind and refine the chocolate for 24 to 72 hours to reduce acidity and develop the flavours) it is going to be more acidic and bitter tasting than the smooth chocolate that you are used to. You can add more sugar if you like, you can also add milk powder, or coconut milk powder. But particularly vanilla bean (not extract as you cannot include liquid in chocolate) can go a long way to sweeten the chocolate and make the chocolate taste a little more like what you are used to. You can also add peanut butter or hazelnut for a softer texture and alternate flavour. Play around with it until you are satisfied with your results. You may be surprised with how quickly you can become used to the flavour of minimally processed, homemade chocolate and you will start to like it without additions. Oh, and coconut sugar is a nice flavour change compared to cane sugar - try that also and toss in shaved coconut. I hope these suggestions help!

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  13. Thank you friend.. I have a grinder at home, but it is not industrial made. so I guess I can do the grinding process. But it will take time for me why because I made chocolate from a single coco pod. Two more pods (beans) are under drying process. So I will make all together, that would be better.

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  14. I have used natural cocoa nibs (which nonalkalized), conch the paste around 3-4hr. But the final product is too acidic. What should I do to reduce acidity ?

    Thks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, I am so sorry, I missed this comment for some reason and am just seeing it now! Unfortunately, you need to refine in a refiner (like the Premier Chocolate Refiner) for 48 hours or longer to reduce that acidity. You can also try heating and cooling the chocolate several times in a kitchenaid mixer to agitate it and go back to a double boiler to heat and cool over and over for a make-shift 'conche' which can burn off some of the acidity (but not while burning the chocolate, you should really keep it 130 degrees F). But the motor may not handle those long hauls. That may help.

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  15. Do you have any suggestions for how to make coffee chocolate from fresh ground beans?

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  16. Saw a bunch of guys in the Czech republic making chocolate by just continuously grinding the nibs for 24 hours. Nothing else was added.

    https://www.jordis.cz/en/

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  17. Its really a delicious recipe. Made chocolate at home it's amazing and so much fun. Do you have any recipe made by cacao nibs?

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  18. My name is MEXICATEL(www.mexicatel.com)
    I have to congratulate you on your blog on chocolate making.
    I would like to interest you in my farms cocoa.We call it X-premium because the nibs are naturally sweet and when used to make chocolates, there is no need for sweetners or flavours.contact me iquaibom@mexicatel.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'll check out your website. I am creating a list of cocoa bean suppliers to put up on this blog - I will include yo

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  19. I was trying to make chocolate using cocoa nibs, butter and palm sugar but i couldn't get dry consistency. pls help

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    Replies
    1. Hi! I need a bit more detail about how you were making it, or what stage you were at. Did you melt the cocoa butter first, then grind it together? If it all came together, and melted, then you'll need to temper it to get the chocolate to harden after. Just let me know what part you're stuck on and I can try to help.

      Thanks!

      Lisabeth

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  20. What you're making here is the most expensive, gritty chocolate paste you'll ever taste. If you want it to be anything close to smooth chocolate, you'll need to run it in a wet grinder for 24 hours. And no, it will never be in temper when you finish grinding.

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  21. I love chocolate. I'm sure most here are. I bought a bag of cacao nibs. Can't eat them. The smell makes me gag. This disappoints me I want to use them for health reasons. I heard if you process the cacao nibs using heat you loose 75% of the health effects compared to dark chocolate.

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