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