Chocolate is of the highest esteem where tradable goods are concerned, but is carob a form of chocolate?

No, carob is not a product of the cocoa bean from the theobroma cacao plant. Carob is an entirely separate plant from a different species of tree and indigenous to a different region. 

  • The Carob tree, or ceratonia siliqua, is in the class of Rosids, a flowering plant; in the order of Fabales; in the bean family of Fabaceae.
  • Carob is native to the Mediterranean region, hence it’s multitude of occurrence in The Bible.
  • The the fruit of the Carob tree is a legume.
  • The Carob pod can be dried and processed into a powder, chip or syrup form for baking and cooking.
  • Carob has an earthy, faint, caramel-ish sweetness. In powder form or as a drink the flavor lingers longer than cocoa or coffee, but without bitterness. Carob has a cocoa like flavor, but has more mellow tones than the rich intensity of the cacao bean.

Like chocolate, carob chips and powder are becoming more prevalent in recipes. This is quite likely because of the rise in popularity of organic and clean natural eating, such as when carob met it’s first wave of acclaim in the US among the hippies of the 1970’s.

Carob vs Cocoa

Is Carob better for you than Chocolate?

There is no definitive answer of yes or no but here are the facts.

  • Carob does not contain caffeine, cocoa does.
    • Caffeine is a stimulant affecting the central nervous system.
      • Caffeine can be beneficial in many ways.
  • Carob does not contain theobromine, cocoa does.
    • Theobromine elevates mood in humans.
    • Theobromine is a stimulant affecting the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.
      • Theobromine increases the production of urine, causes blood vessels to dilate, and helps high blood pressure. It is also a cough suppressant because of its effect of dilating the bronchial tubes.
        • 1 oz of milk chocolate contains approximately 60 mg of theobromine & 1 oz of dark chocolate contains about 200 mg. 
    • Caffeine and theobromine may cause sleeplessness, tremors, restlessness, and anxiety. In extreme cases it may also cause loss of appetitenauseavomiting, and withdrawal headaches.
  • Carob powder is naturally sweeter and contains less fat than cocoa powder.

Additional notes on carob.

The seeds inside the pods were traditionally used in the Middle East to weigh diamonds, this is where we get the terminology carat weight from.

Nonfat milk powder or palm oil are sometimes used to enhance the natural sweetness of unsweetened carob chips. Carob chips are available in sweetened form from sugar or and other sweeteners such as barley malt and karo syrup.

Carob is commonly used to flavor “chocolate” animal treats.

Carob is easiest to find in health food stores such as Whole Foods.

Carob bean gum contains no gluten and can be used as a thickening agent in baking and cooking.

Carob was once used as a sweetener when sugar and sugar beets were not available.

Have you tried carob yet? Does it make a proper baking substitute? Do you have any suggestions for new carob users?

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