Cacao Brownies

My beautiful friend Mo spent two years in the Peace Corps working with the Nagabe people in Bocas, Panama .

Cacao Pods, Photo by Medicaster.

One of their main exports is Cacao [kuh-kah-oh], or chocolate. Its one of nature’s superfoods, very high in antioxidants and vitamins. Can you believe that chocolate comes from such a funny looking plant? The beans and pulp are removed from their pods, and are set out so that the pulp ferments and falls away. The resulting beans are left to dry in the sun. They are then cracked into pieces, or nibs, roasted, sort of like coffee, and finally ground up into a paste. As they are ground the oil in the nibs is released and they are formed into these solid little hunks of cacao.  They smell heavenly! Rich and earthy and oh-so-chocolate-y. I just want to stay all day sniffing in the wonderful aroma. Mo says that I can shave the cacao into a fine powder, mix it into hot milk and have Aztec hot cocoa, just like Moctezuma! Awesome! I’m saving that treat for a cold late fall evening. Possibly when I head up to see Florrie at the Croakery for the Sheep and Wool festival next month.

So, Miss Mo came to visit me a few weeks ago and she brought me a lovely gift of cacao. She also gave me a recipe for brownies using the cacao. Yum!

My other friend Javi sent me a text asking me to make him some brownies, and it was the perfect opportunity! I couldn’t pass it up.  I wanted to make them before now, but that many brownies in the house would have derailed even the most stalwart dieter! I cut Murray and myself teeny squares for a treat and Javi gets the rest. :O)

I used my fine microplane grate to shave the cacao, and melted it in hot butter. Mixed the rest of the ingredients together and popped it into the oven.

I always like to sprinkle a little extra sugar on top of the batter for a lovely sugary crust. They came out ooey-gooey-good!  Its such a shame that I have to give them away! 

I’ll let you know how the hot cacao comes out, though I can’t believe that it could possibly be bad! Thanks Mo-mo! -m

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