The first time I heard about cocoa nibs was August 2005 in this post. I was intrigued by the description of these roasted cocoa beans and tried to find them both in Dundee and Edinburgh but without success. Time went by, I gave up on finding them in Scotland and forgot about them again. Then this summer, making the same jam again, my interest was rekindled. I figured living in Switzerland, famous for it's chocolate, I should be able to find them. So I visited the chocolate shops, bakers, high end department stores but everybody looked at me like I'd gone mad. "Roasted cocoa beans? What on earth is wrong with a normal chocolate bar or praline??" I could see them think.
Then by fluke last saturday I found another chocolate shop, in an alley next to my favourite bakery, I figured I had nothing to lose, walked in and shyly asked if they had perhaps ever heard of roasted cocoa beans in my bestest broken German... and by a miracle, without blinking the lady said:"yes of course, we carry 2 different kinds, which one would you like?" I was so surprised that I didnt hear her description and picked the ones with the yellow label as it looked more pretty. Chuffed to bits I cycled home, I couldn't believe I'd found them and just in time for Sugar High Friday. Originally started by the Domestic Goddess, this month it was hosted by Chocolate in Context. But now to decide what to cook?! I thought about these cookies or this jam but in the end I settled on a small tart using up some chestnut jam and eggwhite to fit the wintery cold we had this weekend.
I made a simple pate brisee, lined two small tart tins with the pastry and baked them blind for about 15 min. I ground down a handful of the beans, mixed this with a few tablespoons of chestnut jam and put this on the pastry. I covered this with an eggwhite stiffly whisked with sugar. Popped it in the oven for 30 min at 150°C and let it cool to room temperature. I was really pleased with the result. The sweet gloopy chestnut jam was balanced nicely by the bitter cocoa beans and the meringue was light and fluffy on top. Next time, I think I would add a tiny bit of cornflour to the jam, to thicken it a bit as now some syrup was dripping out. But I still have lots left so I can try again and finally make all those other recipes :-)