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Cocoa Nibs Lightly Roasted

Humanity has had a long relationship with the cacao plant or Theobroma Cacao on which the cacao beans grow that chocolate is made from. The plant is a large, evergreen tree native to the Amazon basin in South America where it prefers to grow at lower elevations and under a heavy rainforest canopy. The seeds are known as cacao beans and 20 to 60 of them grow encased in large pods. Nutritionally, the raw cacao bean initially contains a high amount of fat, plus a caffeine-like compound called theobromine that is also found in tea. Nevertheless, once picked, the beans are fermented to destroy the seed germ and then the beans are roasted, dried and ground to remove the nibs that contain most of the cocoa butter. The resulting thick paste or chocolate liquor is then refined by drying and grinding to yield cacao or cocoa powder that is then used to make hot cocoa and chocolate. Cacao or cocoa powder is medium brown in colour and has a notably bitter taste that requires sweetening to be palatable. Cacao powder can be used in baking, icing or candy making to bring that wonderful, rich chocolate flavour to a special desert or treat.

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