Carob is made from the roasted and ground pods of the evergreen carob tree, native to the Middle East. The pods look similar to broad beans until they ripen from green to brown. They contain a very sweet pulp and hard, brown seeds. In the Middle East, the sweet pods are chewed raw and are also used as animal feed. Carob is often seen as a 'healthier' alternative to chocolate because carob bars taste like chocolate but are free from caffeine and other stimulants and ground carob seeds contain only half the fat of cocoa. However, carob seeds still contain a lot of sugars and therefore calories, so, unfortunately, carob is not the chocolate lovers' fat-free option. Carob is often used in vegan recipes to replace chocolate, but good-quality cocoa powder and most 70% cocoa solids dark chocolates are suitable for vegans too.
Carob is available in powder form, bars, drops and confectionery from health food shops and larger supermarkets.
The flavour is sweet and treacly, so is excellent in baking. Carob powder can be substituted for cocoa powder in any recipe.
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