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Citrus and Cacao Nib Salad

Citrus and Cacao Nib Salad

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Citrust and Cacao Nib Salad

This salad has an excellent balance of crunchy, tangy, and creamy, with the orange juice and cacao nibs working to create an exciting flavor profile of chocolate and orange.


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  • 3 Tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 Teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup good-quality olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Taza Roasted Cacao Nibs
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 Cups mild salad greens, such as mesclun or red leaf lettuce
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Ounces fresh goat cheese


Calories Per Serving283

Folate equivalent (total)95µg24%

Riboflavin (B2)0.2mg12.4%

When life gives you lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits, why not let them sparkle in mouthwatering citrus-flavored desserts? We can all agree that citrus is wonderful for eating out of hand, refreshing as juice, and shines in all kinds of salads, but if you ask us, its potential for sweet applications is underrated and under-appreciated. Citrus desserts are where these fruits really dazzle, as evidenced by the Basil-Yogurt Panna Cotta with Grapefruit Gelèe that you see right here.

Both in baked goods and spoonable, scoopable treats, citrus is sublime, and the glorious dessert recipes we've gathered here feature everything from fragrant slices and fresh-squeezed splashes of juice to aromatic zest from a hit parade of varieties. That's right, varieties&mdashour recipes feature different types of citrus, and then different varieties within the same category, like Cara Cara, blood oranges, and mandarins, all of which you can find in the produce section of your local supermarket. Fill your basket up with the season's best, and then turn them into some sweet, bright sunshine with these citrus dessert recipes.

Want to start with a stunner? Our Citrus Upside-Down Cake is it. Though it looks next-level, it's actually easy to make no layers, no frosting, just a simple sour cream cake batter over the shingled rounds of citrus. When the weather turns warmer, or when you just want a blast of sunshine on your spoon, turn to our refreshing citrus sorbet recipe. It's a formula you can change over time once you master the basic recipe for grapefruit, try the variations with tangerine or blood orange. Then move on to customizing this frosty treat to your own liking: Add fresh herbs, pairing blood orange with rosemary or thyme, or take it into grown-up territory by spiking the sorbet with a little Aperol or Campari.

And don't miss out on the cutest individual dessert around: We have a recipe for a deconstructed cream pie that's a cinch to make. We like that the process of preparing these jars is less of a challenge than making and baking a graham cracker crust, and it helps that these mini desserts are much easier to serve, too.

These 25 citrus dessert recipes show the versatility of the colorful, juicy fruits. Embrace their beauty and their flavor with these must-make cookies, cake, pie, fritters, sorbet, tart, and more.

Recipes by Shira Bocar art direction by James Maikowski prop styling by Tanya Graff food styling by Judy Kim.

Citrus Cocoa-Nib Salad

Serves 6 – Antioxidant-rich cocoa nibs&mdashcrushed, roasted cocoa beans&mdashare available in natural foods stores and specialty shops. They aren't at all sweet but add a lush, flavorful note to simple salads like this one. You can also sprinkle them on granola or cereal, blend into smoothies, or use as a substitute for nuts or chocolate chips.

  • 3 tablespoons fresh organic orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh organic lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 cups mild salad greens, such as mesclun or red leaf lettuce
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
  • 1 organic avocado, sliced

1. Mix citrus juices and whisk in olive oil in a slow stream until dressing is thickened. Add salt.
2. Wash greens and place in a bowl. Pour dressing over greens. Add cocoa nibs and toss. Arrange avocado slices atop greens and serve.

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Health Benefits

Various studies have established that cacao can have beneficial effects on your health. These health benefits are related to a flavanol called epicatechin, which is found in cacao.

For this reason, dark chocolate is generally considered healthier than milk chocolate. The manufacturing process for dark chocolate allows it to retain epicatechin.

Comparatively, milk chocolate contains significantly less epicatechin. Milk chocolate tends to contain more artificial ingredients than dark chocolate.

Cacao nibs are cacao in its purest form. The only process they are subjected to is being roasted and removed from their husks.

Cacao nibs are rich in magnesium, which is a vital mineral in our bodies. Magnesium plays a key role in over 300 different types of biochemical reactions within the body.

Cacao nibs can also help reduce the symptoms of anemia such as fatigue. They contain iron, which helps in the production of red blood cells.

As cacao nibs are packed with fiber, they can help you feel more satisfied for longer. Fiber is useful for promoting regular bowel movements and avoiding constipation.

A study set out to observe the effects of regular cacao doses on constipated subjects. The subjects were given raw cacao supplements for a period of four weeks.

At the end of the study, the subjects reported improved symptoms overall. When the subjects ceased taking cacao supplements, the frequency of bowel movements declined once again.

Cacao contains numerous antioxidants, particularly in its rawest form (cacao nibs). These antioxidants can contribute towards lowered risk of stroke and heart disease.

A study examined the effect of beverages and foods derived from plants on coronary health. The results revealed unprocessed cacao can have the following effects:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce insulin levels
  • Improve vascular function
  • Improve blood platelet function

Aside from physical health, cacao nibs can help to boost your mood. Cacao nibs can stimulate the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

The neurotransmitters that are affected by cacao include dopamine, which can cause euphoria. Cacao nibs may also promote better focus and awareness.

Cacao contains the lipid anandamide, also known as the so-called “bliss molecule”. Anandamide has a molecular shape similar to THC, which is found in marijuana. (Source)

6 of the Best Uses for Cacao Nibs

If you don’t already have a stash of cacao nibs in your pantry, it’s high time you invested in these little chocolatey wonders.

Cacao nibs are crushed pieces of cocoa bean that have gone through a process of fermenting, drying, and roasting. They’re jam-packed with chocolatey flavor (sans any added sugars) and boast a crunchy texture that’s similar to nuts. They’re also loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients including fiber, iron, and magnesium.

Their taste and nutritional properties help explain why cacao nibs are skyrocketing in popularity in restaurants and superfood aisles across the country. But you don’t have to go out to enjoy these little treats. Here are six stellar ways to put cacao nibs to good use at home.

Incorporate them into all kinds of baked goods .

Cacao nibs offer the perfect opportunity to add texture, chocolatey flavor, and a unique twist to a huge variety of baked goods. Use nibs instead of nuts in cookie recipes stir a spoonful into cake batter sprinkle them on top of brownie batter before popping it in the oven add them to pancake mix or try out these recipes for Banana Coffee Muffins with Cacao Nibs and Oatmeal or Cacao Nibs Brownie Bites .

Mix them into condiments .

A number of condiments are well-suited to a cacao nib infusion. Need convincing? Look no further than these recipes for Chocolate-Hazelnut Spread (think of this as homemade Nutella), Cocoa Nib and Spiced Lamb Sausage Pizza (which incorporates cacao nibs into the pizza sauce), or Nibby Pesto (which combines cacao nibs, olive oil, Niçoise olives, and basil leaves into a surprisingly delicious blend).

Whip up some hot chocolate .

If Alton Brown created it, you know it’s gotta be good. This recipe for Cocoa Nib Hot Chocolate is surprisingly easy to make, but it still packs the quality and refinement that have made Brown a household name. The secret? Steeping ground cacao nibs, sugar, water, and salt in a French press for 30 minutes before heating, straining, and combining with milk.

Add them to smoothies .

If you want to add some chocolatey flavor (and a healthy dose of antioxidants) to your breakfast or afternoon smoothie, look no further than cacao nibs. Toss in a few tablespoons to your smoothie recipe of choice, or give this recipe for a Cacao Coffee Banana Smoothie a try.

Turn them into candy .

Looking to create a crunchy, flavorful treat? Then whip up this recipe for Candied Cacao Nibs . Eat the candied nibs out of hand or break them into pieces to use as an impressive topping on cupcakes, cakes, and so on. For a similar take on candied cacao nibs, check out this recipe for C hocolate Honey Brittle with Cacao Nibs .

Sprinkle them over sweet and savory meals .

Cacao nibs can be used as a topping on virtually any meal you can think of—including savory ones. Sprinkle them over salads, roasted veggies, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, or trail mix. Or, if you’d prefer the sweet route, use cacao nibs to top a bowl of ice cream, pudding, granola, or fruit salad.

From condiments and salads to pastries and candy, cacao nibs complement virtually any type of dish. Incorporating these crunchy little bites into your daily cooking routines can add flavor, texture, and nutrients to satisfy any palate.

How to cook with cocoa nibs

Cacao nibs or cocoa nibs are shards of cocoa bean most often associated with the chocolate-making process — though more and more they are being used as an ingredient in their own right.

The primal ingredient has pure and bitter cacao flavours, meaning that they work in both sweet and savoury dishes. It's the nibs' texture which is particularly distinctive though. The shards have a lot of bite. They're harder than most nuts, almost like crystallised sugar —certainly more comparable to a Brazil nut rather than a softer almond or pecan.

Cacao nibs are created as part of the chocolate-making process. The cacao beans are roasted and then 'cracked' — separating the husks from the nibs. A technique called 'winnowing' blows the husks away, removing 25% of the original weight, and leaving the cocoa nibs behind.

At this point, the nibs are most commonly ground into a chocolate liquor, and then mixed with milk, sugar and emulsifier to make chocolate. But more often than ever, nibs are removed and packaged, and sent to restaurant kitchens round the world, to star in dishes as an ingredient in their own right.

Cacao nibs are renowned for their high levels of anti-oxidants. They are also a good way of introducing chocolate flavours to diets which wouldn't otherwise allow it, like veganism. Increasingly, cacao nibs are found in high street health shops, as well as speciality online food shops. As with purchasing chocolate, it's advisable to look for organic, and ethically-sourced products.

7 Ways To Use Cocoa Nibs

Love chocolate? Well then say hello to cocoa nibs, crushed bits of the cocoa bean that have been fermented, dried, and roasted. Nicknamed "nature's natural chocolate chips," cocoa nibs can add that chocolatey flavor to so many dishes—without all the sugar that usually comes with it.

Most cocoa nibs are ground, processed, and transformed into chocolate, but it's becoming more and more common—thanks to enthusiastic pastry chefs and health nuts alike—to find them as is. The nibs have a very firm, crunchy texture a roasted, bitter chocolate flavor and provide many nutrients and antioxidants including magnesium, iron, and fiber. And while you can certainly snack on plain cocoa nibs, they're also great tossed into everything from your cereal and salad bowl to trail mix and cookies. So pick up a bag—you can find them at specialty stores, quality grocers, and online—and start sprinkling them on anything and everything. Need more cocoa nib inspiration? Here are our seven favorite ways to cook with cocoa nibs:

Stir a spoonful of cocoa nibs into homemade (or softened store-bought) ice cream or gelato for a boost of rich, dark chocolately flavor, and the iconic speckled look of stracciatella.


Give cookies a chocolatey crunch by swapping cocoa nibs for nuts (or adding them in addition to nuts). Or give a pretty finishing touch to glazed and chocolate-dipped cookies by sprinkling crushed cocoa nibs on top before the glaze or chocolate sets.

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

The great thing about using cocoa nibs instead of chocolate is that it provides both chocolate flavor and crunch to a cake. When I'm making pound and bundt cakes, I love to stir in a spoonful of cocoa nibs into the batter before baking.

Cocoa nibs can add a touch of sweetness without adding extra sugar. Sprinkle them on top of yogurt for a little sweet crunch in your breakfast bowl or on top of a creamy dip to give it a sweeter bite. Or add them into the blender for a chocolate twist on your morning smoothie.

Almond Butter-Banana Dip with Cocoa Nibs

For a pop of chocolate flavor and crunch in your granola, swap cocoa nibs in for a portion of the nuts in your favorite granola mix. And for even more chocolate flavor, add in a spoonful of cocoa powder.


Making caramelized nuts or praline to sprinkle on top of your dessert? This is the perfect place to add some cocoa nibs. Their deep dark color can pop against a light caramel and they add a rich, roasted bitterness that helps balance out sweetness. Cocoa nibs are also great mixed into roasted nut combos try them mixed into this updated pecan pie that combines plenty of nuts and seeds.

Dark Chocolate Pie with Cocoa Nib Praline

Love caramelized nuts in your salad? This savory granola combines spices and seeds to add perfectly seasoned crunch to hearty greens and roasted veggies. Try sprinkling a few cocoa nibs into the mix for instant sweet-savory flavor.


  1. For Meringues:
    1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line bottoms of two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides with parchment paper spray parchment with nonstick spray. Sift powdered sugar and cornstarch into medium bowl whisk in ground cocoa nibs and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl until thick and foamy. Adding 1 tablespoon sugar at a time, beat until stiff but not dry. Fold in cocoa nib mixture. Divide meringue between prepared pans, spreading evenly.
    2. Bake meringues 1 hour. Turn off heat. Keeping oven door closed, leave meringues in oven overnight to dry (meringues will deflate slightly).
    1. Preheat oven to 325&DegF. Line bottom of 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides with parchment paper spray parchment with nonstick spray. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and next 5 ingredients in medium bowl whisk to blend.
    2. Whisk 1/3 cup oil, egg yolks, and 2 tablespoons water in large bowl to blend. Stir in dry ingredients. Beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into yolk mixture. Transfer batter to prepared pan.
    3. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan 15 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack peel off parchment. Cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil store at room temperature.
    1. Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Beat just until mixture holds soft peaks (do not overbeat or mixture will curdle). Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.
    1. Place chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl. Combine heavy whipping cream, 3 tablespoons water, unsweetened cocoa powder, and light corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until blended and just beginning to boil. Pour mixture over chopped chocolate let stand 1 minute, then stir until smooth. Whisk in butter. Let glaze stand until thick enough to spread, 15 to 20 minutes.
    2. Place 1 meringue on platter, flat side down spread 1/2 cup glaze over. Refrigerate until chocolate is firmly set, about 30 minutes. Spread half of mascarpone cream (about 1 1/2 cups) over chilled chocolate. Refrigerate 10 minutes. Place cake layer on work surface spread with 1/2 cup marmalade, then remaining mascarpone cream. Carefully place cake layer atop meringue on platter. Top assembled cake with second meringue, flat side up. Spread 1/3 of glaze over top and sides of cake in thin even layer. Refrigerate until coating sets, about 30 minutes.
    3. Heat remaining glaze in microwave just until pourable but not hot, 5 to 10 seconds. Carefully pour glaze over cake, spreading to coat evenly. Chill cake until glaze sets, at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Cake can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with cake dome and keep refrigerated.
    4. Cut cold cake into wedges. Serve with blood orange segments.
      • Bits of shell-roasted cocoa beans available at many specialty foods stores and from
    1. ** An Italian cream cheese sold at many supermarkets and at Italian markets.

    Zucchini Citrus Salad


    • 2 medium zucchini
    • Kosher salt
    • 1 grapefruit
    • 1 orange
    • Juice from 1 lime
    • 1 small carrot peeled and sliced into thin rounds
    • Freshly ground black pepper
    • 1/4 cup pistachios
    • 1/4 cup croutons


    Ingredient discussion:

    There are hundreds of varieties of zucchini squash ours happened to be Goldmine squash, but any variety will work. As it happened, our oranges were Valencia and very sweet, which worked well with the slightly bitter grapefruit and tart lime. Finally, we make our own croutons to order: cube bread, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes turn oven off and let croutons dry in the oven an additional 10 minutes. It’s simple enough that we can have them done about the time the salad is ready, and we do recommend it, especially if you scratch out your own bread.

    Procedure in detail:

    Sprinkling with a bit of salt will draw out moisture and remove some bitterness.

    Dice squash and drain. Here’s how we dice zucchini. First, cut off the stem and flower ends, then cut the zucchini lengthwise into 3-5 “planks,” depending on the size. Cut each plank into 3-5 long sticks, align the sticks, and cut into cubes. Once cubed, place the zucchini in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with a bit of kosher salt. Toss and sprinkle a bit more. Use about 1/4 teaspoon of salt altogether. Let the squash drain for about 30 minutes. Salting and draining will eliminate some of the excess moisture and counteract the slight bitterness in zucchini.

    It’s actually pretty easy to remove the segments of citrus quickly. It does take a little practice, however.

    Supreme citrus. Meanwhile, supreme the grapefruit and orange, dividing the segments between two large bowls. Supreming citrus is simply cutting out the fruit segments, and it’s not that difficult. Cut off the top and bottom of the citrus, cutting just far enough to expose the fruit. Stand the fruit on a cut end and use a chef’s knife to cut off the peel, exposing the fruit all around. As you cut, you’ll feel the boundary between the fruit and the peel, so this is easier than you may think. Now, simply pick up the fruit and use a chef’s knife to cut down along each membrane, releasing the segments of fruit. Once all the segments are cut free, squeeze out the juice into the bowls.

    Add zucchini and lime juice. Add the zucchini to the citrus and toss to coat. Drizzle the lime juice over the top and toss again. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

    Add a few carrot pieces for color and texture, and a bit of pepper for flavor, and your salad is nearly done.

    Marinade. Place the bowls in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the juices to soak into the zucchini. If you wish, give everything a good toss every 10 minutes or so, but, if you get busy with something else, it’ll be okay.

    Finish and serve. Top with pistachios and croutons before serving.

    This is a pretty good, and different, way to eat zucchini. Now, we won’t suggest that you head on out and buy zucchini just for this salad, but, if a neighbor happens to place a bagful on your stoop in the middle of the night, well, this recipe might help. It does have a nice citrus flavor, sort of sweet-sour, but, as with most dishes that involve zucchini, the squash, itself, is just there. Oh, and, we really do recommend using pistachios they add a nice creamy taste, though pecans would be a good substitute. Four stars.

    Worth the trouble?


    Edible natural vegetable fat of the cacao bean. It is one of the most stable fats known, containing natural antioxidants that prevent rancidity and give it a storage life of two to five years.

    Our Cocoa butter is extracted from the cacao bean via cold-pressing and can be used to make chocolate, cocoa powder, ointments, and toiletries. It has has a mild chocolate flavor, sweet fragrance, and emollient properties.

    Add a piece of this divine butter to your favorite smoothie, dessert, ice cream or chocolate creation! (USDA Certified Organic, Kosher, Non-GMO, Gluten-free)