I hope you’re sitting down . . .
Because whoa, this is huge. You know the way it feels when you bite into a warm fudgy brownie, or sip from a mug filled with marshmallows and hot cocoa? Well, it can be better. Yes, BETTER.
Awhile ago I read on David Lebovitz’s blog that cacao beans lose the “top notes” of their flavor when they are processed into chocolate. To get those precious top notes back, explains Lebovits, you just add pure chocolate extract made from raw cacao nibs into your sweet treats.
I don’t make desserts all that often, but obviously I had to give this a try. I searched around and found that I can buy it, but because I am a total DIYer I had to find out how to make chocolate extract myself. Folks, this stuff is so easy to make and so delicious it almost feels wrong. Almost. We’re talking the very essence of chocolate – its soul even – all bottled up like a genie ready to grant wishes for chocolate coated bliss. So, you’re probably thinking . . .
Sounds good, but what can I actually do with chocolate extract?
Great question. You can use it to replace vanilla in baked goods – or better yet use them both! I love adding it to flourless brownies, silky chocolate creme pie, homemade “magic shell,” pudding, mousse, cookies, chocolate ganache, and homemade hot chocolate.
Have I mentioned pancakes, banana bread, and homemade “Nutella”? There are so many possibilities, and we haven’t even talked about blending it with coffee or mint extract yet. Have fun and experiment – it’s pretty hard to go wrong with chocolate anything.
How To Make Chocolate Extract
- ½ cup crushed raw cacao nibs
- 8 oz vodka (or substitute bourbon or rum)
- Gently crush cacao nibs to help them release their flavor. This step is optional, but I find it speeds up the ripening process of the extract. I just press mine a smidge with a mallet.
- Pour vodka/bourbon/rum over the nibs. Seal jar tightly and give the jar a good shake.
- Store in a dark cabinet for at least three months, shaking occasionally.
- When the extract has reached the depth of flavor you prefer – a process that can take up to six months depending on your preference – strain out the cacao beans.
- In a freezer-safe container, place extract in the freezer overnight. Remove extract the next morning and scrape off any fat that has risen to the top.
- Store in either a dark container/dark cabinet.
Read My Comment Policy
Kate from Extreme Health Radio
I’ve been off chocolate recently but I love it. This looks amazing. I’m sure there’s a million uses for this. I can add chocolate to anything!
I was wondering if anyone had ever tried to make chocolate extract using Hershey’s cocoa powder?
You would want to use the nibs for a healthier version as nibs have not been processed and are likely to contain less lead, cadmium, etc. The best place to purchase nibs is from the Health Ranger store where the nibs, and everything else they sell, have been independently lab tested for heavy metals. You will be able to see the score on the site.
Definitely have to try this. I think this would be perfect in a cup of coffee too!
This is the perfect compliment to the vanilla extract I gave as Christmas gifts last year! I better start making it soon. Thanks for sharing!
Realy worth trying.
Oh, that’s a tough one. Do I give up my coveted nibs, that I love so much on chia pudding, for extract? Hummmm… I think yes! :O Wondering if I could use it in soap making???? glorious day to learn something new! thank you!
There’s no particular reason you couldn’t go ahead and still eat/use the bourbon-soaked nibs after extracting from them. They will have had a lot of goodness removed, but not all of the cacao’s constituents are soluble in alcohol or water, so there will still be good stuff in there.
Do you throw away the fat you scrape off? Or can it be used in some way?
I wondered the very same thing after i read this recipe. Hope someone comments back with an answer, even if we’re a few years late to the party lol
This looks irresistible. I had read your vanilla article with interest when you first published it but had to look again for the non-GMO choices. Thank you for doing the hard research work for us!
What a great Christmas gift! I’m going to have to get moving on this and hope it’s ready in 3 months 🙂
Can I use roasted cacao nibs instead of raw, or will that not produce the right flavor?
Yes, you can. I prefer raw cacao nibs, but others prefer this extract made with roasted 🙂
Could I substitute Kahlua for the vodka? I love to use Kahlua in place of vanilla in my recipes.
Heather ~ Mommypotamus
Yes, you could 🙂
Does the Kahlua make it more coffee tasting chocolate or doea it taste the same?
Hmmm,, I developed a slight allergy to chocolate and I wonder if having it this way would make some difference. Cool to know anyway.
Any tips on what the fat could maybe be used for? Does bourbon give a fuller chocolate flavor than vodka?
Yes, the bourbon would give it a fuller flavor. I use a dark rum when I make my vanilla extract just for that reason. I will probably make this with rum as well.
Roz I Real Food Family
Are you kidding me??? This is incredible. I think what it is perfect for is when your raw milk goes a little weird- just weird enough to not taste great on its own. I love it!
Does it make a difference what type of jar it’s put in? Can I use an acrylic jar or does it have to be glass? I’m so excited to try this out!
Try doing it more quickly and potently in the Magical butter machine. It can infuse almost any “plant” into almost any “liquid”. This is delicious!
I always have a bottle of regular vanilla extract and a bottle of vanilla with raw cacao nibs extract going at all times 🙂
Hi – I’m a little confused. Do you use the fat portion as the extract or the remaining alcohol portion? What do you do with the other portion? Thanks.
loved your comments. I am getting some cocoa nibs soon. I’d like to use the extract in soap making also. Can you tell me, could I infuse the cocoa nibs in olive oil as well? Also, I thought of grinding up the nibs, could I then add them to my soap?
I heard you also have to do the freezer thing for any nut extract to get the oil and fat off… Glad I found out about that so I can do it with how ever much I use to put into my wine. Now to create the chocolate extract to go with the pecan (for a wine) and vanilla bean I’ve made. 🙂 Thank you!
Hi, I recently started to make my own extracts. Beeing from Germany our recips usually don’t ask for them but at this point I already could’t imagine doing it without them. Unfortunately this also means that I can hardly ask someone about them here. To top it of it was quite a challenge to find a recip for a chocolat extract with nibs instead of powder. But lucky me I found your blog 😉
Unfortunatly after 3 weeks I just realized that there are this strange ‘clouds’ above the nibs that somehow looks like mold in applejuice. However since I use not just any alkohol but 96% (around 190 proof) it shouldn’t really be possible for mold to form so i was wondering if you could maybe help me. Could it be possible that the alkohol filtered some stuff from the nibs and it is somehow a normal development or if I should start from anew. Did you ever observe something similar?
Thanks for your help and your inspiation in the first place. love your blog
Same thing is happening to me. I tried taking the film off the top and that seemed to help but it was back within a few days. I’m thinking it’s some sort of spoilage because the smell is off and the second batch I made isn’t having this issue. I’m guessing I’ll have to toss it. Any one else know what this is?
After making the extract, do we throw the nibs out? Can anything be done with them?
With vanilla extract, when using 190 proof, it has to be diluted with distilled water by 50%. I’m guessing it’s too high of alcohol content??
Is this the butter fat risen to the top? Carefully skim it out and see.
I grow cacao/chokolad in the garden. Can I use the beans fresh or do I need to dry them first ?
no, you need to get the seeds (cacao seeds), let them ferment, then let them dry, after that, you need to roast them, after that you can use them.
This looks great, I just ordered the bits I need for this Chocolate extract and the Vanilla.
Thank you for sharing.
Made my first batch and will check it the end of September. Thanks for the recipe.
I have seen recipes for vanilla extract using the instant pot. Could you do that with chocolate too?
Thank you for sharing. What happens if you don’t freeze it? Will the fat sit on top of the extract? Just curious, because I made a chocolate elixir and there’s this weird film on top. Wondering if it’s the fat.
I’d separate the fat for keto recipes!
Can some one tell me what the cloudy film is and will it still work in recipes
A while back I started my chocolate extract … I did a small jar with vodka, one with rum, one with Kahlua and one with bourbon to see if I could tell the difference … Time sure does fly! I shook the jars several times during the three months but forgot what I wanted to use it for, so I let them sit a while longer. I pulled them out today and looked at the date on top of the jar and it’s been an entire year! I’m thinking all of the flavor should have been pulled out of my nibs by now! My concern is, I thought that this extract would not have such an alcohol flavor… and I can taste the chocolate notes , but each of them taste very much like alcohol… is this typical? I’m assuming it would bake off if you were using it for baked goods, but I don’t bake much I remembered I really wanted to use it for cold brew coffee drinks.
Hi Mindy, mine tastes very much like liquid chocolate but it does have an alcohol flavor similar to plain vanilla extract. If you place it in very hot coffee a good portion of the alcohol will burn off.
I discovered a vodka made from grapes. It comes from France.
It’s called Cîroc. It comes in different flavors and one with no flavor.
I am soaking cacao nibs in rum for Christmas morning coffee…how can I use the leftover soaked nibs in other cooking/baking? All suggestions welcome!
Janis P. in Oregon
I am soaking cacao nibs in rum for Christmas morning coffee…how can I use the leftover soaked nibs in other cooking/baking? All suggestions welcome
I was given the link to your chocolate extract recipe. I would like to have a recommendation regarding what brands of cocoa/cacao nibs produce a good result. I have researched reviews but the reviewers are using the nibs in smoothies or foods and aren’t specific to making extract. There is a huge difference in pricing as well which makes it even harder to know what is best to use. Thank you so much for any assistance you can offer to help me get started.
Hi Debbie, I made this recipe using Navitas Organics Cacao Nibs. I think it turned out well! Sorry I didn’t see your comment until now.
I have cacao powder, do you think I could use this? I don’t use it in my regular baking. I would assume I’d need to use a coffee filter when it was done.
What can be done with the nibs and fat that you remove from the extract. Really excited to try this.
Can you use the butter for stuff as well?
With vanilla extraction, you can make single/double/triple fold depending on the bean-to-alcohol ration. Have you tried a similar ‘multiplier’ on your extract to see if it develops a richer flavor?
Also, with vanilla extract you need to stick to 40-50% (80-100 proof) as too low can mold and too hold will destroy the vanillin. Is there a similar issue with cacao extract?
going to give this a try crushed my cacao nibs with a glass mortar and pestle. looking forward to this treat