Ever heard of carob chips. You may have seen them in passing on your search for chocolate chips.
In fact, carob chips are nearly identical to chocolate chips in appearance, making it easy to confuse the two. However, carob chips and cholate chips are not the same. To understand the difference between carob and chocolate chips, you must know what carob is.
What Is Carob?
Carob is derived from the carob tree. The ripened carob pods house a sweet pulp that’s dehydrated, roasted, and ground into a flour-like powder known as carob powder.
Carob powder is sold in powder form or processed into carob chips. Carob powder resembles cocoa powder in color. While the color of carob chips is similar to chocolate chips, carob’s flavor is unique.
Carob is not as bitter as chocolate and does not include any caffeine. In addition to this, carob chips are not manufactured with additional sugar as roasting the pulp enhances the naturally sweet flavor.
Typically carob is available in powder, chip, extract, dietary pill, and syrup form. Nevertheless, you can also consume fresh or dried carob if desired.
History Of Carob
Belonging to the Leguminosae species, carob, scientifically known as Ceratonia siliqua L., is an evergreen tree that’s indigenous to the Mediterranean. Most people believe its original home is the Middle East, as it has been cultivated there for 4000 years.
In addition to this, ancient Greeks also planted carob in Greece and Italy. The carob tree bears fruit that resembles a brown pea pod that houses the pulp and seeds.
Carob is commonly known as St. John‘s bread or locust bean as the tree is thought to have been the locust bible character John the Baptist consumed during his journey in the wilderness. However, this idea was dismissed as John the Baptist ate migratory locust.
In addition to this, British generals in Spain and Palestine consumed Carob pods during World War I. Carob then made its way to Mexico and Southern California by way of Spanish missionaries.
In 1854 8,000 carob seedlings were introduced to the southern U.S. Additionally, carob trees flourish in areas where citrus is cultivated. However, a dry climate that has over 30 centimeters of rainfall is best, which is why it thrives in the Meditteranean region.
How To Use Carob
The flavor of carob chips is not identical to chocolate. For example, carob chips do not have the same melting quality as chocolate chips.
If you are making truffles, it may be best to stick with chocolate chips. In contrast, if you are baking chocolate chip banana bread, carob chips are an excellent stand-in for chocolate chips.
Carob has a nutty, earthy flavor. You can substitute carob powder or chips in any recipe that uses chocolate or cocoa powder.
However, it is best to replace a quarter or half of the cocoa powder or chocolate chips with carob so you can get accustomed to the flavor of carob chips or powder. After you have become used to the flavor of carob chips or powder, you can use it as a stand-in for cocoa powder or chocolate chips.
Tips For Working With Carob
Even though substituting carob for chocolate seems simple, there are a few tips you should be aware of.
- Carob burns. If you are using carob chips or powder in a recipe, program the oven’s temperature 25 degrees lower than the recommended temperature to prevent the carob from burning.
- Carob chips work best in chocolate chip cookies, muffins, bars, or candies.
- Unsweetened carob chips are available on the market if you subscribe to a sugar-free lifestyle.
- You can still bake with carob chips if you are a fat-free baker. Simply use applesauce, mashed bananas or pears, or a fruit puree instead of oil or butter.
- If you are substituting carob for baking chocolate, combine 3 tablespoons of carob powder with 1-2 tablespoons of milk.
- You can also add a tablespoon of carob powder to bread dough to give it a deep dark color and an extra dose of flavor.
- Store carob powder in an air-tight container in a cool, dry pantry.
- Store your carob chips in the fridge, if you live in a hot climate to prevent them from melting.
- If your carob powder clumps up, sift it before adding it to your recipe.
Health Benefits Of Carob
The pods, bark, and leaves of the carob tree were used in ancient medicine as an antidiarrheal and diuretic. In addition to this, due to its electrolyte-rich juice, carob juice is also used to treat diarrhea.
Carob juice also contains zinc, sodium, copper, potassium, manganese, and iron. Carob is also used as an antitussive to inhibit coughs and protect against warts.
The health benefits of carob are attributed to their high phenolic content, specifically their condensed tannins. Most research has found carob to have benefits such as lowering cholesterol, regulating blood glucose levels, antimicrobial effects, and high antioxidant potentials.
Other animal studies report carob has in vitro anticancer, anti-proliferative effects on mouse hepatocellular carcinoma, HT29 colon adenocarcinoma cells, and LT97 colon adenoma cells. Furthermore, the bioactive compounds of the carob fruit, as well as its derivatives, help regulate several health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and gastrointestinal disorders due to their anti-hyperglycemic, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory potential.
Carob is similar to chocolate, but it deserves its own category. With a unique earthy flavor and a range of health benefits, carob is definitely a great addition to your diet. Best of all, whether you use carob powder or carob chips, they will be a delicious addition to any recipe.