ABC News reported in 2005 that the average American consumes 11.5 pounds of chocolate each year. That would likely be chocolate bars and various types of chocolate candy, which are mostly sugar and fat. Chocolate consumption represents one percent of the American diet, yet most Americans have never tasted "real" chocolate - natural cocoa or the cacao bean in its raw form.
You could sprinkle crushed cocoa beans or cocoa nibs onto whipped cream, ice cream, puddings, or other desserts for a natural chocolate flavor from these original "chocolate chips". The crushed raw cocoa beans or nibs look a lot like coarse-ground coffee beans and taste like unsweetened dark chocolate, so they can be bitter.
Acquiring a taste for cacao is worth the effort. Think of all the health benefits of chocolate rolled up into a tiny satisfying package. All you need is a little creativity. My first attempt with cacao nibs was to make these Russian Tea Cakes, but instead of filling them with nuts I used these crunchy nibs. I realize this is no health food, but with dessert you try to do what you can. You can make these with whole wheat flour (I do) and you can include some nuts or leave out completely.
Next I went for a little less fat, but I sweetened the deal with a Mint Cacao Nib Meringue. These tasty treats are chewy and crunchy and are the perfect cure for those mint chocolate cravings. Girls, you know what I’m talking about!
Finally, I went all out chocolate for a truly grown up cookie that will definitely bring you over to the dark side, of chocolate that is. Dark Chocolate Cookies with Cacao Nibs and Sea Salt. I also used whole wheat flour for these cookies and there is something about that coarse salt with the sweet cookie that is impossible to resist.