I get so excited to show anyone where the most delicious thing on the planet comes from! I have company coming so I ran down to the farmers market last week and found a farmer with a great deal on cocoa pods and quickly snapped up two of them for demo purposes. Since company rarely stays more than two weeks, it's a project that I have to start early on so we can roast it up halfway through their visit. It's kinda sad, as the most amazing part is that this luscious food comes from these strange looking pale slimy things. They remind me of corn a little bit, although its contained within a pod, and there isn't a core.
It takes two weeks at the minimum for the cocoa to ferment and turn into the dark colored bean for roasting. I open them up, pull out the corn cob looking group of beans and spread them out on a banana leaf. You then wrap them up really good in more banana leaves, alternating which way the leaf goes so you get a nice sealed up package of beans. I use at least four leaves. Then you find a nice sunny spot to set them in where they will transform into cocoa ready to dry and roast.
Now the waiting begins! I'll post more pictures when I unwrap them, and when they are ready to roast.
I missed getting a picture when they came out of the banana leaf. I'll try to get another one for you the next time I process some. They aren't very pretty at that stage. You rinse them off really well, and dry them in the oven overnight at 170°. You then put them in a very hot pan and flip them around constantly for an even roast. Here is a picture of another batch I roasted. You then just peel off the outer thin shell and you have a delicious chocolate nib.