Probably like a lot of older bloggers, one of the first, perhaps the first, food blog that I became aware of was Chocolate & Zucchini, when I heard about it on NPR. Clotilde's blog was (and is) a wonderful potpourri of fresh recipes and ideas presented by a charming personality who had a distinct voice.
One of the recipes that struck me was for a pear jam made with cacao nibs. When I made a cherry jam for Steph Chows first Jam Exchange last year, I decided to try to incorporate some cacao nibs into one of the jams I made. Following Clotilde's lead, I was conservative in the amount of nibs I used in the recipe. While the lesser amount probably was the right balance for a jam made from pears, I felt the cacao nibs were overpowered by the cherries.
I was slow at getting around to making the jam for this year's exchange, so I only made some strawberry and lemongrass jam in time for the exchange. While neither my wife nor I generally eat much jam, once I'm making some I figure I might as well make some more.
Strawberries and chocolate are a combination I enjoy, so I decided to incorporate the cacao nibs into a strawberry jam. Not wanting to repeat last year's mistake of being too timid with the nibs, I increased the amount to a full cup for the five half-pint jars the recipe makes. I also replaced six ounces of the strawberries with some raspberries I had in the house. As much as I like the strawberry lemongrass jam, I like this combination even more. The cacao nibs provide a depth of flavor to the jam, muting its sweetness. This is a jam to savor with croissants or crackers, one that could even be enjoyed with a glass of port.
Strawberry Jam with Cacao Nibs
2 1/2 pounds strawberries (I substituted 6 oz of raspberries for 6 oz of strawberries)
3 3/4 cups sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup raw cacao nibs
Give the strawberries a quick rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels and hull them. Place the strawberries in a glass or ceramic bowl and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to macerate overnight in the refrigerator.
Pour the berry mixture into a deep saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove about two cups of the berries, then briefly use an immersion blender to get a rough puree of the berries in the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook to around 220º F, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Return the reserved whole berries and the cacao nibs. Bring back to a boil on high heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Pour the jam into jars and seal following standard canning procedures. This recipe makes 5 half-pint jars of jam.