A month ago I organized an excursion to the small chocolate factory owned by a French couple in Saigon. It took us two hours to get there, and it is considered extremely long by local standards. However, it really was worth the trouble. From this time on, cacao nibs are a must-have in our kitchen.
You can see cacao nibs in the picture of my brownie. The harvested and dried cocoa beans are then roasted and cracked. After that, cocoa butter is produced using the hydraulic press. Cocoa butter is the most valuable product in chocolate production process. The extraction process also produces cocoa powder, which is not as costly as cocoa butter, but is quite healthy too. To produce a chocolate bar, cocoa powder is mixed again with cocoa butter. Then sugar is added for sweetness. The sort of chocolate depends on other ingredients added to basic ones. Milk chocolate contains much milk; aerated chocolate consists of much air. By the way, white chocolate actually has no chocolate. There is no cocoa powder in it and cocoa butter is replaced by palm oil. Basically, if you study chocolate bar labels in detail, you will find out that of chocolate there is only color left in them, the rest is sugar, palm oil and emulsifiers.
Still, even the most expensive and darkest chocolate bars have not as much chocolate as we would like (French chocolate factory in Saigon is an exception, as chocolate there is hand-made and of premium quality). My boyfriend is an avid sweet tooth. After the chocolate factory excursion he went to the supermarket and studied all the chocolate bar labels possible. From now on, he is going to eat nothing but my homemade sweets.
And here is the recipe of my first brownie. You can easily substitute cacao nibs by cocoa powder. The result will be the same!
- 2 bananas
- 80g cacao nibs/ cocoa powder (grind cocoa beans in blender or coffee mill)
- 4 tablespoons rice flour
- 3 tablespoons buckwheat flour
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds (grind them in blender or coffee mill)
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (it’s up to you, I like to add it to my pastry)
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 200ml coconut milk (can be replaced by any kind of milk)
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar for sweetness (can be replaced by honey or dates)
- Walnut – optional.
Whisk bananas, cacao nibs and agave nectar or dates. In a separate bowl beat eggs, cinnamon, coconut oil, coconut milk and baking soda. Blend in both mixtures, whisk and add flour. Then stir in ground walnuts. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Pour mixture into a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.
I have baked brownies twice recently. And our family council has concluded that cooled down brownies taste better and tend to reveal a more vivid chocolate flavor.
I recommend you to prepare fresh ginger and lemon tea to your brownie. Just put some ginger and a little of lemon juice into a teapot, add hot water and in 10 minutes your flavored tea is ready!