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Cocoa Nibs Are The Secret Ingredient For Unbeatable Chocolate Ice Cream

Dark chocolate ice cream on wood surface
Dark chocolate ice cream on wood surface - Viktorija Jermolajeva/Getty Images

It may be impossible to imagine anything more indulgent, satisfying, and dreamy than deep, rich chocolate ice cream. As kids, we often crave the milk chocolate version -- it's light and sweet, and easy to love for so many reasons. But for many, the discovery of darker chocolate is a game changer. After that, chocolate ice cream can fall a little flat. It is by nature made milky by the addition of cream and sugar in the ice cream formula, which means it's difficult to achieve the depth one seeks in the throes of a chocolate craving. But it turns out, there is a secret that makes this possible. Enter the small but mighty cocoa nibs.

Cocoa nibs, also known as cacao nibs, come in pebble-like bits, and may appear too small to be significant. But they boast the complexity of chocolate in all the best ways. They bring the bitterness that dark chocolate lovers appreciate, along with nuanced flavors that can range from fruity notes to hints of roasted coffee. And in your next chocolate ice cream experiment, they're sure to give the boost you've been missing.

Read more: The Ultimate Ice Cream Brands, Ranked

Making Your Cacao Nib Infused Ice Cream

Bowl of cacao nibs
Bowl of cacao nibs - Rocky89/Getty Images

Cocoa nibs are a powerhouse ingredient. Not only are they rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, they also bring texture to a dish, and tons of flavor. When combined with the dark chocolate and cocoa powder in your ice cream recipe, these little bits bring the depth that's so often missing from the final product. For making chocolate ice cream, they're also extremely easy to work with. You don't have to crush or cut or manipulate them in any way: Simply open the bag and you're ready to go.

Because fat is an ultimate flavor carrier, the milk in ice cream is ripe for infusions. You can do this with herbs like mint, grains like oats or rice, and even popcorn. For this process, you'll want to take the milk you plan to use for your recipe and combine it with cocoa nibs in a saucepot (a few tablespoons for a 1-quart ice cream recipe should do the trick).

Bring this to a simmer over medium-high, then remove from the heat and put a lid on your pot. Set this aside for a couple of hours so the nibs can continue to impart their flavor. When you're ready, just strain the nibs out of the cream (give them a good press in your fine mesh strainer to make sure you get all the milk possible), proceed with your standard ice cream method — and prepare for mind-blowing results.

Serving Your Supremely Chocolatey Scoops

Chocolate ice cream with almonds and coca nibs in bowl
Chocolate ice cream with almonds and coca nibs in bowl - Inoptia/Shutterstock

Once you have this ideal dark chocolate ice cream, you can experiment with how you serve it. For even more chocolate oomph, plus some crunch for texture, one easy option is to simply mix fresh nibs into your ice cream. Alternately, you can transform the nibs into a brittle to crush up and mix in, too -- or even just set on top as an impressive garnish. In either case, add these elements to the ice cream machine toward the end of the churning process to ensure they're distributed evenly throughout.

To top your scoops you can also use a similar infusion method, using extra cacao nibs to create a chocolate-tinged vanilla whipped cream (in this case, simmering and steeping the nibs in your heavy cream instead of milk). If you're a peanut butter fan, you can even whip up a homemade version of your favorite creamy stuff incorporating cocoa nibs, and then swirl that through your chocolate ice cream. Unlocking the dark chocolate flavor of cocoa nibs is sure to open up a world of ice cream possibilities.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.