The carob tree is widely known and found throughout mediterranean lands. Planted and cultivated by the arabs, and furtherly maintained by future generations who cherrished the utilities of this plant and fruit.
Before the sugar cane was imported, carob flour and syrup were used as sweetners, like honey and beetroot were too.
Only recently has the carob byproducts become popular for dietetic purposes, but for many years it has been a popular potuguese dessert ingredient, and a reflection of our inherited culture.
Also known for medicinal treatments (colds, flues, intestinal issues), and also known as the best cocoa substitute because fat content is lower (more carbs and fiber, that’s why carob is sweet and cocoa is bitter), no allergens, nor stimulants. Very rich in vitamins and minerals, like A, B, niacin, calcium, magnesium, iron, etc.
The food industry has developed many desserts and sweets thanks to this ingredient’s emulsifying, thickening and flavourfull properties.
A remarkable curiositie about the carob tree is it’s ability to survive in dry hot climates, enduring long periods without water. The fruit grows into a sort of pod, where tiny carot size seeds linger (these were actually used to measure a carot of precious stones hundreds of years ago – science later on proved that the size of the seeds/beans isn’t always the same). After drying, the subproducts are obtained (the leftover pods are worthwhile for animal feed) and sold in many supermarkets and health food stores.
Portugal is the forth most productive country in the world! Horray for us!
Although I love cocoa, I’m always keen to pursue interesting and available substitutes, and carob flour goes remarkably well in a brownie recipe – even if you don’t like the ingredient, you will love it this way!
Instead of butter, I use avocado, so dairy free and no saturated fat. Just to make it even healthier, whole wheat flour and coconut sugar! Try it out, you won’t be disappointed.
The original recipe (with butter, chocolate/cocoa) is from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook (oh, my mother’s, she asked for royalties, sorry), it’s the best version of brownies I’ve ever made. I topped my recipe with some almonds and served it with nectarine slices and a plum coulie my mother made, to use up the plums that were falling desperatly off the tree. Very sour, but excellent to balance the flavors and cut the sweetness.
- 1/2 cup carob flour
- 1/2 cup cocunut sugar (or brown)
- 2 eggs
- Pulp from 1 avocado
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Just blend the wets, mix in the dry (carob and whole wheat flour) and bake in 170ºC oven for 20-25 minutes (I like my brownies very fudgy, so I always take them out ahead of time).