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Carob Chips: The Chocolate Alternative


For dog owners, carob chips might be a known commodity, deemed safe by the ASPCA. But did you know humans can also savor these delicious morsels? They present a palatable substitute to traditional chocolate chips, and their resemblance is so striking that one could easily mistake one for the other.

Origin and Composition

Unlike chocolate chips, which are sourced from cocoa beans, carob chips come from the pods of the carob tree. These pods lack the caffeine content of cocoa and are inherently sweet. This natural sweetness distinguishes carob from the cacao beans, which need added sugar. Furthermore, carob possesses a distinct nutty and roasted taste.

Historical Context

The carob tree finds its roots in the eastern Mediterranean. In Italy, during times of war and scarcity, carob became the “poor man’s chocolate.” Its ready availability made it a popular substitute, finding its way into iconic desserts like gelato and cassata, a traditional Sicilian cake.

Nutritional Benefits

Carob isn’t just a simple substitute. Research published in “Foods” highlighted the health benefits associated with carob. It’s rich in insoluble fiber, beneficial for metabolic health. Moreover, compared to cocoa, it has double the calcium content and is packed with other essential vitamins and minerals.

Carob gained momentum in the food industry during the 1970s, amidst the rise of the organic food movement. While the initial excitement has waned a bit, carob maintains its niche, especially among vegans who prefer it over traditional chocolates containing milk.

How to Use Carob

For those interested in exploring the world of carob desserts, most natural food grocery stores, including Whole Foods, stock carob chips. Online platforms like Amazon also offer them.

When baking, while carob chips can be directly substituted for chocolate chips, one might need to adjust for sweetness, as carob isn’t as sugary as chocolate. Nevertheless, a simple one-to-one substitution often works well.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can recreate desserts from the carob era of the 1970s. The New Yorker mentions delights such as carob pudding and carob-based sweets. If chips aren’t your preference, carob powder is another versatile alternative. It can easily replace cocoa powder in various recipes, whether you’re making a warm cup of hot chocolate, a delectable chocolate cake, or gooey brownies.

In conclusion, carob chips offer not just a substitute for chocolate but bring with them a unique taste and a range of health benefits. Whether you’re looking to try something different or seeking a nutritious alternative, carob chips might just be the answer.

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