Carob: More than a Chocolate

Chocolate has undoubtedly become the star of any Valentine’s Day celebration.  It’s become a symbol of sweetness and love all around the world.  However, what would happen if one day you were not able to express your undying love for someone through chocolate?Many people consider chocolate a vegetarian food, and in fact, it is, because it comes from a nut.  However, just like coffee, chocolate contains high levels of caffeine, a stimulant that affects your nerves and irritates the digestive system.  I myself am a self-proclaimed chocoholic, so when I had to give up chocolate, I thought my world would end! It was a long time ago and it had nothing to do with being vegetarian: I had to steer away from chocolate because of its caffeine content. But then… Carob entered my life.  Because a world without something chocolaty would be like a day without sun, wouldn’t it?  I ‘ll be honest with you – if it doesn’t taste similar or better than the real thing, I won’t eat it.  Trust me, there are good products out there like: Carob Bars, I get these bars every time we travel to NYC, and you can find them in most health food stores.  Their taste resembles bittersweet dark chocolate because of their slightly bitter aftertaste. They’re the perfect substitute to your favorite candy bar – my mom  buys them by the dozen every time we find them.

Carob Chips, I use these carob chips from Chatfield’s in my regular chocolate chip cookie recipe and I can’t tell the difference.  I also use them the same way you would use chocolate chips in recipes like my Brown Rice Krispies Treats, which you can find in this section. Carob Powder, Carob, also available in both bar and powder form, makes a very delicious caffeine-free alternative to hot chocolate.  And because carob is a bit bitter it resembles the bitter bar chocolate used to make hot chocolate from scratch.  I have also used it on cake and brownie recipes and it’s amazing. The point of this article?  That there’s no need to deprive yourself of chocolate-tasting desserts when there’s carob around.  Even if you still dream of a Hershey’s Kiss on your lips.  I know the feeling…

Read on after the cut for some delicious carob recipies!

 

BROWN RICE KRISPIES TREATS

1 cup light corn syrup with brown sugar (Karo brand)
1 cup almond butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 cups brown puffed rice krispies
1 cup carob chips

In a large saucepan over medium heat, mix together the sugar, corn syrup and almond butter until their all pretty warm, mixed together and syrupy.

Remove from heat and pour in the puffed rice cereal. Stir well until all the cereal is covered in the sticky mixture. This is where going to the gym will some in handy…

After all the mixture is combined, stir in the carob chips. They’ll melt a bit, but that’s part of the charm, in my humble opinion.

Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 glass dish. I greased using my Canola Oil Spray.

Spray your hands with the Canola Oil Spray too and press flat.

Let cool for 1 hour before cutting into squares. Don’t put in the refrigerator, it gets rock hard there. I had a tough time cutting it.

Makes 18 nicely sized squares.

 

HOT CAROB

¾ cup of evaporated milk – about ½ a container

¾ cup of water

1 tbs carob powder

2 tbs agave nectar

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the evaporated milk, water and agave nectar.  Whisk in the carob powder to avoid any lumps from forming.

Heat up the mixture enough without bringing it to a boil.  I like to keep whisking for a little while to prevent the carob powder to scorch at the bottom of the pan.

Take away from heat and cover to maintain hot for a while.

Serve hot with a side of churros…

The evaporated milk gives it a creamier consistency as if you used regular milk, but you can certainly substitute the evaporated milk and water for equal parts of just milk.

 

CHERRY CAROB COOKIES

2 1/4 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 sticks of unsalted butter

1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla powder

equivalent of 2 eggs from egg replacer

1 cup carob chips

1 cup dried cherries

1 cup toffee chips

 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl whisk together the flour and baking soda.  Set aside.

In another bowl, beat together the butter and the sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed, until light and fluffy.

Mix in the salt, vanilla and egg replacer.

Add flour mixture in 3-4 batches.  Mix until just combined.

Stir in the carob chips, cherries and toffee chips.

Drop heaping tablespoon-size balls of dough 2 inches apart in a cookie sheet lined with a silplat or unbleached parchment paper.

Bake until golden around the edges. about 10 -12 minutes.

Remove from oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.  After a few minutes, transfer warm cookies to a cooling rack to  cool completely.

Store cookies in the fridge for up to 1 week in a tightly sealed container.

But don’t worry, they will not last long.  They are eaten best with a tall cold glass of milk.

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