Double Chocolate Brownies

Real chocolate is actually cocoa paste made from the seeds of the cacao tree, an evergreen that is native to and cultivated in Central and South America. It is grown as a crop in the East Indies, West Africa and Hawaii. The cacao tree needs a warm, humid climate with shade and regular rainfall. It can grow to 40 feet in the wild, but only to 25 feet when cultivated.

The fruit of the tree, the cacao pod, grows to 12 inches long and contains 30 to 40 seeds. In the cocoa-making process, the seeds are fermented to reduce bitterness and then dried, cleaned, roasted and shelled. Shelling reveals the nib, or cacao kernel. The nibs are ground to produce a dark brown (alcohol-free) paste called liquor, which is the base for all chocolate products. It takes 25 cacao pods to make 2 pounds of cocoa.

Double Chocolate Brownies

1-1/4 cup purchased chocolate syrup
2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temperature
1 large egg
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Chocolate Batter
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter,
room temperature
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For filling:
Combine syrup and 2 ounces chopped chocolate in heavy small saucepan. Stir over low heat until chocolate melts; cool. Beat cream cheese and egg in medium bowl. Stir in chocolate mixture. Blend in 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips and flour. Set aside.

For batter:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 9-inch square baking pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with waxed paper. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Stir flour, cocoa and baking powder into medium bowl. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture.

Spoon half of chocolate batter into prepared pan. Top with filling. Spread remaining batter on top. Bake brownies until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 5 minutes. Run small sharp knife around edges of pan to loosen. Cool completely in pan.

For glaze:
Melt 6 ounces chocolate with oil in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly.

Cut cooled brownies into 16 2-inch squares. Transfer to rack. Spoon warm glaze over brownies. Let stand until glaze sets.

Makes 16.