Oh man, why couldn’t Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Nibs have been good? As I’ve made clear before, dark chocolate is the only kind of chocolate I can purchase. Regular milk chocolate bars tend to disappears down my throat in a way that worries medical professionals and my insurance provider. In the world of confections, milk chocolate is your good-time buddy who just wants to party – always on the scene with a six pack and the crazy plan. “Don’t worry man!” milk chocolate boisterously shouts, “Diets are stupid, let’s get nuts!”
Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is a stern Scandinavian quartermaster. “Haven’t you had enough of me now,” dark chocolate asks you solemnly, after one tiny bite, “Don’t you think it would be a good idea to go back to work?”
Milk chocolate was fine in college, but as an adult it’s time to knuckle down and get serious. Hence my constant search for new, interesting forms of dark chocolate. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Nibs seemed like they might deliver – dark chocolate, after all is best enjoyed in tiny bites. So why not save some time and sticky fingers by going straight for the nibs?
As a rule of thumb, I steer clear of vaguely defined nouns in my food (lumps, chunks, gobs, etc) on the grounds that usually someone is trying to pull a fast one. In this case, I figured I was alright to bend my normally adamant rule. Not because I think Trader Joe’s is above marketing flim-flam, but because I was actually seeking the unpalatable.
A quick review of the ingredients reveals that the true identity of our anonymous nibs is the much less endearingly termed “cocoa mass”. Now, cocoa mass is just the name for ground up cocoa bean prior to being processed into unsweetened chocolate, so I figured this was right on the money. “Nibs” might just be a way for the irrepressible ad wizards at TJ’s to market their excess, extruded cocoa mass, but I didn’t come here for their tastiness – I came to find a safe outlet for my otherwise uncontrollable sweet tooth.
If dark chocolate is a stern quartermaster, surely dark chocolate on nibs of cocoa mass is even more severe – like a stone-faced mortician with cold unblinking eyes. Two nibs and I’d be set, I reasoned. The perfect post-dinner way to get in, satisfy my chocolate craving, and get out with minimal damage done.
It seemed quite unlikely to me that I’d end up finishing the wee decorative tin of these nibs in anything close to the suggested two servings. And that turned out to be true – it’s just too bad the nibs are crap.
The main problem is that the nibs are too hard and small to enjoy properly. Once the scanty coating of dark chocolate has melted away in your mouth, you’re left with a tiny, brittle nugget of roasted cocoa bean in your teeth. You can bite it, break it up, and you’re done. A single nib is far from satisfying, and even a small handful of the nibs left me wanting. They nibs don’t dissolve on your tongue in a pleasing way, they just crunch up into bitter fragments.
When compared to the pleasures of a dark chocolate bar, the nibs simply don’t stand up. A small bite of a dark chocolate bar renders the pleasure of numerous complex flavors that slowly unravel over the tongue before ending in a bitter punch – the nibs don’t pack enough chocolate to give you this delectable pleasure, and leave you with an inert bit of cocoa mass as your reward.
At the price you pay for the tin, you might as well just buy the dark chocolate bar in the first place.
Would I recommend them: Yes, if you need a tiny, decorative tin. No to everyone else.
Would I buy them again: Give me a bar of dark chocolate bar over these any day.
Final Synopsis: Nibs suck.