Caramelised Cocoa Nib Ice-cream

8 June 2006

Since I got these cocoa nibs from my last trip to Paris, they’ve been the source of an irresistible smell in our larder – every time I opened it, I could feel them calling out ‘try me now!’ ‘eat me now!’ :) I’ve always loved the bitter, slightly smoky flavour of the beans, but this was my first time to actually make something with them – needless to say, I was very excited.

As an ice-cream lover, I knew this recipe from Chocolate Obsession would be one of my first choices – Michael Recchiuti‘s book is beautiful with gorgeous photographs (Although I must say that I had a hard time converting all the quantities of the ingredients – I wish they would at least have included metrics along with the cup measurements!)

Before I started reading the recipe for the ice-cream, I assumed that it was plain vanilla ice-cream with caramelised cocoa nibs – but the custard is actually infused with raw nibs as well. When I tasted the custard I thought it was quite strong (I think I might have added more nibs than it says in the recipe :)) and that it might work better with a lighter/sweeter custard to give more contrast – but when I tasted the final result, I just loved it – couldn’t stop eating from the tub!

Caramelising the nibs is dead easy – and you can keep them for ages in a plastic bag. You can of course use nibs just as they are but caramelising them will give more flavour and a crunchy texture. If you really can’t be bothered trying this ice-cream recipe yourself, just get some good vanilla ice-cream (or any flavour you think may work) and sprinkle the caramelised nibs on top – I’m sure it’ll satisfy your nib craving!

I’ve also tried another recipe from the book, caramelised cocoa nib white chocolate bark – I must confess that I’ve stayed away from white chocolate since I made this rather-bland-really-sweet cake – but I knew the bitter flavour of the nibs would contrast nicely with the sweetness of the chocolate and it was divine! I couldn’t resist munching even when I was taking pictures of them – I think there was less chocolate than I intended in my pics :)

For tempering chocolate, Michael suggests using a ‘seed method’ in the book, but I used a ‘mush method’ (although I didn’t exactly follow this procedure, this page gives you an idea of the difference between the two). I don’t know why but I find tempering chocolate on a marble slab quite therapeutic, but maybe I should ask him what is the best way to do this at home :)

Danielle posted a cocoa nib ice-cream recipe from Bittersweet a while ago – it doesn’t have eggs in it and I’d like to try that version too. Bittersweet actually has quite a few cocoa nib recipes, including savoury ones – they definitely seem worth a try, meanwhile please let me know if you have any favourite ideas for these delightful beans!


Caramelised cocoa nibs

10g unsalted butter
180g cocoa nibs
100g granulated sugar

Have a piece of parchment paper ready on a flat surface (such as a work top or a baking tray).

Place the nibs and sugar in a pan over high heat and stir energetically with a wooden spoon (the mixture will smoke as the sugar melts). When almost all the sugar has melted, remove from the heat and stir in the butter.

Spread the mixture thinly onto the parchment paper and leave to cool. If you are keeping any, store in a zippered plastic bag at room temperature.

Cocoa nib ice-cream with caramelised cocoa nibs

serves 3-4

200ml milk
50g plus 40g caster sugar
35g cocoa nibs
1/2 vanilla pod, seeds scrape out
3 egg yolks
150ml double cream
40-50g caramelised cocoa nibs (adjust to taste)

Place the milk, 50g of the sugar, cocoa nibs, vanilla seeds and pod in a pan. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and cover the pan, leaving to infuse for about half an hour.

Strain the milk through a fine sieve and return to the saucepan, bringing to a simmer. While the milk is warming, whisk the egg yolks and the remaining sugar in a bowl until pale and foamy.

Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring all the time, until the custard coats the back of a spoon. Pour through the fine sieve into a bowl and stir in the double cream. Cool and chill.

Churn the custard in an ice-cream machine and when it’s thick enough to scoop, fold the caramelised nibs into it by hand.

Food - Sweet        55 comments    Permalink

  • wow. wow. wow. These look so amazing!

    Posted by L | 8 June 2006 #
  • Yummy! Beautiful pictures!

    Posted by Karen | 8 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    The chocolate bark looks absolutely perfect - just like the book! I’ve made the cocoa nib ice cream from Alice Medrich’s book and I love it - it’s very light and has great flavor. I also really like the cocoa nib cookie recipe from there. Enjoy experimeting with the nibs!

    Posted by Anita | 8 June 2006 #
  • Ah, Keiko, you’ve inspired me to get around to doing something with the cocoa nibs I bought in Vienna! Thank you. Would you happen to know of a web-based retailer of those wooden spoons you’ve used? I’ve been wanting to buy those for years. The only place I know of which sells them is in Sydney and they sell them in bulk.

    Posted by S | 8 June 2006 #
  • Glad you’re making good use of the nibs. See, one kilo won’t last as long as you think! ; )

    Posted by David L | 8 June 2006 #
  • Gorgeous! How did you cut the bars out so perfectly?

    Posted by Francesco | 8 June 2006 #
  • I’ve been looking for the perfect use for the cocoa nibs I bought last year! Now I know! Thanks, Keiko, for your so beautiful and inspiring blog!

    Posted by flo | 8 June 2006 #
  • Hey Keiko. Wonderful post! I have been resisting to order the ice cream attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer for a while now. Because I know that if I order, there will be a constant supply of ice cream varities in my freezer and it will take only a couple of months until I pass that fine line between ’overweight’ and ’obese’. But seeing perfect ice cream posts like this, I don’t think I will be resisting anymore.


    Posted by Cenk | 8 June 2006 #
  • hi keiko, i’ve been anticipating this post ;) simply gorgeous! it would be really interesting to do a side-by-side taste comparison between the medrich and recchiuti recipes. ps: love those chic yet cheerful cups. i have (and adore) some similarly-shaped ones in cream from habitat and have been kicking myself for not buying extra sets in more adventurous colours!

    Posted by Joycelyn | 8 June 2006 #
  • Cocoa nibs are a staple in my kitchen too! I always hesitate when I buy a full bag, but they always seems to run out so quickly. I can’t wait to try the recipe.

    Posted by LPC | 8 June 2006 #
  • And now I have to try your version, too! That bark looks really wonderful. Medrich’s recipe for current cocoa nib rugelach is absolutely a favorite of mine - I add more currants than she calls for, and I always plump my currants in hot water first, but otherwise I follow it pretty much as written. It has become one of my favorite cookie recipes of all time.

    I actually ordered a few bags of cocoa nibs from Chocolate Alchemy recently, and have been experimenting with roasting them myself. It’s almost more trouble than it’s worth, because I have to pick out all the bits of hull they didn’t get out for me, but on the other hand, single origin cocoa nibs are fascinating.

    Anyways, as always, I love your ideas and photography - yours remains one of my favorite food blogs.

    Posted by Danielle | 8 June 2006 #
  • Keiko, every time I visit your blog I feel this great excitement. it is just so wonderful. It makes life a bit more beautiful.Once again, great post and pictures.

    Posted by valentina | 8 June 2006 #
  • I have never tried anything with cocoa nibs. Do you use an ice cream maker?

    Posted by Gini | 8 June 2006 #
  • Hi, I found your blog looking for desserts made with green tea about a week ago and I was very impressed by the great pictures and of course yummy-looking desserts (especially those involving chocolate, as this one). Congrats, I’ll keep checking for more posts every day.

    Posted by Gaby | 9 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko--

    I have visited your blog several times now, and I believe that this is my first comment: I love it! Your pictures are wonderful. I’ve never had cocoa nibs (maybe I need to try harder to find them!), but everyone seems to be using them these days. Looks delicious!

    Posted by Marilyn | 9 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    That looked wonderful! Makes me want to go out and get some nibs :)

    Posted by Kat | 9 June 2006 #
  • phwoar, keiko! that ice cream looks so fantastic! i think i need an icecream maker NOW. I’m off to the half-yearly stock take sale!

    Posted by Cin | 9 June 2006 #
  • To resist so long... To realize such a temptint ice cream. So good idea. I will try your recipe.

    Thanks for such good fotos!.

    Posted by Gamelle | 10 June 2006 #
  • Yum Yum. Caramel and chocolate- what a sinfully yummy combination! Love the empty bowls shot too!

    Posted by steffles | 10 June 2006 #
  • Oh my--this looks and reads amazingly yummy. I just bought an ice cream maker and am looking for wonderful recipes...I must get some cocoa nibs.


    Posted by Jasmine | 10 June 2006 #
  • wow ive never seen anything like those white chocolate bark things! Ive always seen cocoa nibs for sale at Max Brenner’s here in Sydney but never knew what to do with them, now I do. Thanks.

    Posted by jenjen | 11 June 2006 #
  • Keiko, your artistry never fails to make me drool...Coffee AND ice cream? I can’t imagine something better for a hot summer day!

    Posted by cath | 11 June 2006 #
  • These pictures are so stunning Keiko. I am planning a trip to Paris this summer and will go to G Detou for sure.

    PS: i think you and Jocelyn (from Kuidaore) ploted to make me buy Chocolate Obsession book. Yesterday, i really felt the pressure and felt the urge to buy this book.



    Posted by fanny | 11 June 2006 #
  • Your photos never cease to amaze me. I know I gush but seriously...another great post.

    Posted by amanda | 11 June 2006 #
  • Oh’s all gone! cups are all empty ;-P Yum, yum..yum...Keiko, that’s a perfect summer temptation for sure. Lucky Michael to taste all your artworks :-) Once again, I’m drooling here...

    Posted by Maya | 11 June 2006 #
  • In a word, "yum".

    Posted by s'kat | 11 June 2006 #
  • awww ... simply love those cacao nibs for their bitter, crispy textures. hmm ... gotta check if Max brenner (SG) here sells them,

    Well best thing i could find was Lindt - Cocoa Nibs or Swiss Delice Cafe & Cacao, hmmm deciding which should i enjoy first :)

    Posted by slurp! | 11 June 2006 #
  • Looks delicious!!! All those empty pots? You eating them? ;-)

    Posted by Bea at La Tartine Gourmande | 12 June 2006 #
  • OOOH such beautiful pictures! I could lick my screen right now! Love your blog, it’s terribly exotic fr me, I live in India, and the food looks yummy!

    Posted by Soo | 12 June 2006 #
  • Hi there, thank you so much for all your kind notes.

    Anita - I guess the ice-cream has a lighter flavour as it doesn’t have eggs in it - I can’t wait to try the cookies too, thanks for letting me know.

    S - I actually didn’t buy the wooden cutlery - I’ve seen them sold loose at some interior shops in London, let me know if you’d like any, I could get some for you.

    Francesco - it’s easier than cutting cakes as it’s fairly thin. You just need to cut it before it completely sets.

    Cenk - isn’t that great if you can get a constant supply of yummy home-made ice-cream? :) I use my machine all the time, maybe more than the kitchenaid in the summer! Let me know when you get it, I’m sure you’ll never regret it.

    Joycelyn - I got those cups for picnic/bbq, I’m not normally adventurous when it comes to choosing crockery, but we can’t resist when we see so many ’cheerful’ colours, can we? ;)

    Danielle - it must smell great when you roast them, I look forward to reading your post about it. Thanks again for the inspiration.

    Gini - yes, I do - and although you can try this recipe without a machine (whisking often during the freezing process), it’d be quite different especially the texture. I definitely recommend getting one if you like ice-cream - I use one with a freezer built-in (so you don’t have to keep the bowl in the freezer) but there are many small, inexpensive ones around and they do a great job.

    Gaby - thank you for your kind words, I’m hoping to post more matcha recipes soon.

    Marilyn - I can’t get them very easily in the UK either, but I’m sure you’ll find some people selling them online.

    Cin - have you got one yet? :)

    Jasmin - congrats on your purchase again ;)

    Fanny - have you bought it yet? :)

    Maya - actually, Matthew didn’t like this ice-cream!

    Slurp - try them all and let me know what you think :)

    Soo - Indian cuisine is very exotic for me :) and I’d like to know more about it.

    Posted by keiko | 12 June 2006 #
  • Leave it to you to improve upon a good thing - caramelised cocoa nibs! As always, here is another inspiring and appetising post!

    Posted by Kevin | 12 June 2006 #
  • oh yum, yum, yum... keiko, where in paris did you get those nibs? i may be popping over in september, fingers crossed! :)

    Posted by Lil | 12 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko, i’ve just ordered it from amazon and i hope to receive it by the end of the week.

    I first ordered it from but then i saw on the confirmation mail ’item will be dispached on the 11th of august’. And i was like NO WAY, I WANT IT NOW.

    So i finally bought it from the UK amazon website!



    Posted by fanny | 13 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko

    Thanks for stopping by Lobstersquad. I think this blog is incredibly amazing, mindblowing photos.

    Posted by lobstersquad | 13 June 2006 #
  • Hi, coca nibs are awesome! They work so well in ice cream. We use them successfully in lots of savory things as well...crusted onto AMerican Bison Loin with Morels and Caramelized Garlic, A smokey icy granite and "boisson" for intermezzo, a succulent bread with caramelized sweet onions. Check out my blog when you can at cuisinierskitchen. any poointers you can offer would be greatly appreciated. awesome photos. how did you get the side bar? cuisinier.

    Posted by cuisinier | 13 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    un grand merci pour ta visite.

    J’adore ton blob, everything is so perfect and beautiful : pics, recipes... it’s like a dream. See you soon.

    Posted by Camille | 13 June 2006 #
  • Oh this looks AMAZING! Just beautiful, wish I could have some now!

    Posted by Dianka | 13 June 2006 #
  • Awesome blog! Amazing pics! Congratulations! You have such a good taste ......

    Posted by Guru | 13 June 2006 #
  • Did you save a scoop for me? :)

    Cacao nibs are wonderfully haunting. Your ice cream makes me think of this delicious dessert I had in a small town restaurant (believe it). It was a luscious butterscotch panna cotta, perfect texture, pure butterscotch flavor, sitting in a pool of "cocoa consommé." I thought it would be a fancy term for chocolate sauce, but the chef had actually had simmered roasted nibs and clarified the subsequent broth in the traditional method. The liquid was golden, kind of tannic, and such a nice contrast to the milky sweetness above.

    I need to use my ice cream machine (finally) and try this recipe. Thanks for hte inspiration!

    Posted by vanessa | 14 June 2006 #
  • hi keiko,

    they look wonderful and delicious,ı’m writting from turkey(my english is bad ı’m sorry)your website is fantastic .

    Posted by gokcem | 14 June 2006 #
  • What a beautiful ice cream and with the nibs,it’s a great idea!I preciously keep this recipe an dwith this hot weather it’s the time to try it!Keiko thank you so much for visiting my blog,you have big talent and you stay very nice,thanks!

    Posted by Moony | 14 June 2006 #
  • Just came across your site and had to comment on this yummy looking recipe!!!

    Looks sooooo gooooood!!!!

    Posted by Pamela | 15 June 2006 #
  • Hi Keiko,

    I just discovered your website this morning and I totally lost myself in it! Such an amazing talent!! Brilliant photos and great great great recipes. I really find it hard to write something to express how I loved your site! I have a web site of my own as well (I share traditional Turkish food in my native language) but yours is marvellous, fabulous, great :D

    I just adored all your recipes but the ones from Hidemi Sunigo’s book are excellent. I desperately desperately want to get that book, is it available in English? Please tell me it is, and you know where I can get it from :) Waiting to hear from you!

    Take care

    Posted by Seda | 15 June 2006 #
  • those pics of the white chocolate pieces topped with cocoa nibs are fantastic.. love the way they are stacked!

    Posted by eatzycath | 16 June 2006 #
  • I came across your blog and I am completely mesmerized by these amazing pictures and recipes.

    Posted by Krithika | 16 June 2006 #
  • Wow!!! The pix are... well, the best I’ve seen. What’s the word?.. Orgasmic!

    Tip my hat to you. Awesome talent!

    Posted by Dmitry. Chicago | 16 June 2006 #
  • Looks unfairly delicious

    Posted by Gabriella | 17 June 2006 #
  • hello I have just discovered your blog and I do not have that a thing has to say CHEER for its smoothness and its quality.


    Posted by stephane | 19 June 2006 #
  • Hi there, thanks so much for all your kind notes and sorry for being late getting back.

    Lil - I got them at G Detou, fingers crossed :)

    Fanny - looking forward to seeing your beautiful creations from it.

    Cuicinier - everything sounds fabulous!

    Vanessa - you made me drool :) Have you tried your machine yet?

    Gokcem - oh your English is perfect :)

    Seda - I’d like to learn more about Turkish cuisine :) re: Sugino book - it’s only available in Japanese, but he has another book called Dessert Book which has brief English translations along with the Japanese text - I don’t have it but have seen it - it has simpler dessert type recipes as opposed to the one I have, which mainly has cake recipes. Hope that helps.

    Posted by keiko | 23 June 2006 #
  • I buy cacao nibs at my local health food store here in Oklahoma, US. (They come in 8 oz bags for under $10 USD.) This sounds very yummy... I might have to borrow somebody’s ice cream machine sometime! The photos are breathtaking as well.

    Posted by Steph | 25 June 2006 #
  • Hi Steph - thank you for your note - sounds like you can get nibs very easily, hope you enjoy them fully.

    Posted by keiko | 4 July 2006 #
  • This is an old post—but, it has provided me with the perfect recipe for the cocoa nibs I purchased. It will be my first time to cook with them (or maybe even taste them?). Thanks much for this absolutely decadent inspiration and of course for the awe-inspiring photos. Hi to Matthew.

    Posted by Kevin | 17 February 2007 #
  • Very late post, but the white chocolate bark looks delicious! I just tried another bark recipe from Michael Recchiuti‘s book… I don’t have white chocolate now so I’ll shelf this recipe for later! Yes! Nibs are wondrous…and would imagine they go so well in ice-cream! I still have a whole bag full (they cam in a 1 kg bag), and after your post, I think i’ll be getting the ice cream attachment with the kitchenaid mixer!!!

    Posted by karen y | 19 June 2007 #
  • Wow Keiko, I’ve just come across your Blog whilst searching for coca nibs – it’s fantastic!

    Were the cocoa nibs you used for the caramelised nibs, raw or roasted? And is there any chance you can share with us the recipe which doesn’t use egg yolks? I’m fascinated!

    Thans for your wonderful Blog – I look forward to being a regular visitor.

    Best wishes, Jo.

    Posted by Jo @ Lovespoon | 9 May 2010 #
  • This recipe is very interesting. For how long have caramelized cocoa nibs been used in recipe? Is this a modern trend or is it more than 15 years old?
    Your comments will be highly appreciated.
    Thank you,

    Posted by Jessica | 1 September 2010 #

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