Cocoa nibs – pure roasted cocoa beans, hulled and crushed into rough bits – are becoming a trendy and intriguing ingredient, new to most home cooks. They deliver the taste of chocolate in its purest form – unsweetened and unprocessed – and while they are hard, they’re easy to bite through, so they make a deliciously healthful addition to baked goods as well as savoury dishes. A simple sugar cookie is a perfect vehicle for them, providing sweet tenderness that contrasts well with each intense little nib.
Of course the health benefits of chocolate are provided by the flavonoid content of the cocoa bean – using just the nibs provides antioxidant power without the addition of fat and sugar. Cocoa nibs can be found at most gourmet and upscale spice shops, or order them online at Amazon.
Cocoa Nib Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar for a few minutes, until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix until you have a soft dough. Add the cocoa nibs and fold the dough over itself a few times until the nibs are contained in the dough. Divide it into two pieces, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour, or for up to 4 days.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes with a cookie cutter or glass rim and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, until pale golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
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