What is carob?

When recently on holiday there was carob cake as a dessert option. It looked like very dark, rich chocolate cake.

Initially I thought I wouldn’t try it, as although it looked like chocolate cake, I knew it isn’t chocolate, so I wasn’t going to bother with something that’s not “the real deal”. But, it got me thinking… “What is carob?”

Well carob is a flowering evergreen shrub, native to Europe and Northern Africa. It produces pods, which are dried and then ground to carob powder. This carob powder is used as an alternative to cocoa powder as it doesn’t contain theobromine or caffeine, like chocolate. It is therefore considered as a more healthy option.

It is mainly used in cooking, as a substitute for chocolate, usually in powdered form, or as chips or even syrup. It is used to make cakes or cookies, but can also be found as a bar. It is also used in drinks and in

Malta it is made into a medicine, used for coughs and sore throats. As carob doesn’t contain theobromine, which is harmful to some mammals, it is used to make chocolate flavoured treats for dogs.

I decided I would try the chocolate cake, and I was quite pleasantly surprised! The carob cake was very similar in taste to chocolate cake, in fact if you didn’t know it was carob and not chocolate cake you wouldn’t guess. This then got me wondering what actual carob tastes like. So I then went

to search the shops for a bar of carob. In fact I couldn’t find such a thing, but I did find some carob coated raisins (in Holland and Barrett).

They look like they are coated in very dark chocolate. The taste test was “OK”, the carob does have a chocolatey taste, but in my opinion it tastes of poor quality chocolate.

So my conclusion is that whilst carob has it’s place as a healthier alternative to chocolate, it fairs only “OK” on taste. Personally, I would therefore prefer real chocolate, and preferably lovely high quality

Belgian chocolate.