Carob: An Acquired Taste

Carob pods growing on the tree in Greece 
Carob (Ceratonia siliqua) is a flowering evergreen tree or shrub It is widely cultivated for its edible pods, and as an ornamental tree in gardens and landscapes. The carob tree is native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East where the trees can still be found growing wild. The trees can grow up to 15 m tall, the fruit is a legume (also known commonly, but less accurately, as a pod), that is elongated, compressed, straight, or curved.

The ripe, dried, and sometimes toasted pods are naturally sweet, not bitter, and contain no theobromite or caffeine. The pods are often ground into carob powder, “which is sometimes used to replace cocoa powder”. Carob bars and carob chips are often available in health food stores.

Carob is also known as "St John's bread" and "locust tree".
The unit “carat “used in the Middle East for weighing precious metals and stones, came from the practice of weighing gold and gemstones against the seeds of the carob tree.
The system was eventually standardized, and one carat was fixed at 0.2 grams.
In late Roman times, the pure gold coin known as the solidus weighed 24 carat seeds “about 4.5 grams”. As a result, the carat also became a measure of purity for gold. Thus, 24-carat gold means 100% pure, 12-carat gold means the alloy contains 50% gold.

Carob spread.

Carob spread makes a great nut and chocolate Nutella substitute

230g sunflower seeds
160g raw hemp seeds
50g carob powder
1dl liquid sweetener, Maple syrup/Algarve syrup/molasses
60g coconut oil, melted
1dl food oil

Mix/grind the seeds to a fine powder in a blender or similar, add the carob powder and mix well.
Add the liquids and mix until the carob spread is all the same color.

Raw Vegan Carob Brownie

The brownies are made from nuts, dates and carob powder, free from eggs, milk, flour and white sugar.

8 portions

70g hazelnuts
60g walnuts
8 ea. fresh dates, seeds removed
15g carob powder
0,25 maple syrup

1 ea. “ca 140g” avocado, ripe
20ml maple syrup
15g carob powder
5ml vanilla extract
50g coconut fat
1 pinch of salt

Mix the hazelnuts and walnuts in a food processer. Add the dates and carob powder and mix to a rough paste.
Press the nut paste into a prepared form.
Melt the coconut fat, mix together the other topping ingredients to a smooth cream, add the coconut fat and mix together, spread the mix evenly over the brownie, stand overnight in the fridge, cut into portions.
Serve chilled with strawberries.

Carob Cake

a rich cake that needs a bit of love and garnish
100g butter
100g brown sugar
4 eggs separated
1/2tsp vanilla essence
1/2tsp almond essence
50g carob powder
40g self-raising flour
40g ground almonds

80g icing sugar
25g carob powder
40g butter
2tbs boiling water

Set oven at 180 Celsius.
Grease and line a 20 cm spring form cake tin.
Cream butter and sugar.
Beat in egg yolks and essences.
Combine carob powder, flour and ground almonds.
Stiffly whisk the egg whites, fold into the dry ingredients.
Using a rubber spatula tip the mixture into the prepared cake tin.
Bake 18-20 minutes, allow to cool on a wire rack.

For the icing:
Mix the carob, icing sugar, butter and water until well combined.
Sandwich the cake and spread with the icing, glaze the cake with the rest of the icing.  

Carob powder is made from carob beans "pods" which contain vitamins and minerals they are perfect to use in healthy baking, carob is a little milder than cacao and can be used as a compliment or replacement to cacao. Growing up there was carob powder in our pantry, it always stood next to the bottle of chicory essence, both probably evidence of earlier days and memories of rationing chocolate and coffee. Now days Carob is becoming more widespread outside its culturally cultivation areas as an alternative ingredient within the health food and allergy friendly food sectors.
Carob a bit of an acquired taste, don't dismiss it at first bite.


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