Although the rich bittersweet taste of chocolate is hard to beat, carob is gaining much popularity as an excellent alternative to our beloved chocolate. However, the biggest concern of vegans and lactose intolerant folks is finding the right dairy-free replacements for chocolate.
So this is what we’ll be looking at today, so read on.
Is carob vegan ?
Carob is vegan, and you can substitute it 1 to 1 for chocolate without any issue. If you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, then you’ll be happy to know that carob in itself is absolutely dairy free and vegan.
That being said, be sure to read the label for any ingredients that might not sit well with you.
The role of carob is to replace the cocoa powder in chocolate and baking and all the sweets possible. However some manufacturers may choose to include powdered milk in their recipe, so be sure to read the label.
Apart from being a plant-based material, carob is naturally sweet which makes it a good treat for diabetics people and the ones who are watching their sugar intake.
However you should be sure to look for the carob products that do not have any added sugar or artificial sweeteners. Apart from that, you can find it in the form of sweet chips, raw and roasted powder that can be used in a million vegan recipes.
What is carob, exactly ?
Any hardcore chocolate lover can tell you that the silky, bittersweet yet intense bite of a chocolate is hard to beat. So, replacing chocolate is not even an option. Why would someone want to replace this deliciousness ?
We completely agree on this fact but sometimes, the plant-based foodies find it difficult to satisfy their taste buds as most of the dishes or treats contain either dairy, gluten or added sugar.
While there are certain vegan-friendly alternatives, they surely don’t taste similar to the original recipes.
To such people, carob is a great food item. Carob comes from a tree of the same name which is mostly found in the Mediterranean. It’s obtained from the carob pods in the same way cocoa is obtained from the cocoa pods.
The sweet pulp of the carob pods is extracted, dried and then processed into a fine powder which is sold as it is, and is used for manufacturing the delicious carob chips.
Usually, a mature carob tree is capable 9f producing about 200-400 dark brown 12-inch pods annually. The pods are full of seeds and pulp that is processed into gum.
Further, the skin of the pods is roasted and ground into a rich powder which is then mixed with other ingredients like oil, sugar etc. to make vegan carob chips.
You can find these carob chips in both regular and dairy-free versions.
Carob chips explained
One of the two forms you’ll find carob is powdered, and chips.
Powdered carob is just that, roasted and powdered carob beans that will definitely look and smell similar to cocoa, but are a different food item.
They do taste similar, but a true cocoa lover will taste the difference.
Carib chips are like chocolate chips, only with carob instead of cocoa. You need the powdered carob, a sweetener, and a fat or oil to hold everything together.
In chocolate chips, this is done with cocoa butter. In carob chips, this can be some a number of ways by replacing the butter or oil with one that will be solid at room temperature.
Palm and coconut oil come to mind as the most common versions, so this is most likely what you will find in carob chips if you look on the back.
So while carob chips are entirely vegan, you may also find chocolate chips that are entirely vegan. Those will be dark chocolate chips, the extra-dark 85% and over kind of chips.
Still, you should always be sure to read the ingredients before buying something that claims to be vegan or dairy-free.
What carob tastes like
If you’re expecting carob to taste like chocolate, you’ll be surprised. Carob tastes like watered down cocoa, with an earthy and vanilla tone, but definitely sweet compared to bitter cocoa.
Although carob doesn’t taste close to chocolate, it has its own unique flavor and an inviting taste.
Due to it being sweet on its own, you’ll notice carob sweets don’t have as much sugar or sweeteners added as regular chocolate.
If you’ve tasted carob and simply can’t get over the taste difference, we recommend trying dark chocolate. The darkest you can find, 85% cocoa or more.
It will be bitter but you will taste the chocolate goodness, if carob simply is too light for you.
Can I replace chocolate with carob in vegan recipes ?
Yes, you can replace chocolate with carob in vegan recipes and you can use a 1 to 1 ratio. Carob will behave in mostly the same way as chocolate, except for one thing.
Chocolate is made with cocoa butter, which melts quickly. Carob is made with coconut or palm oil, which melt a little slower than chocolate so be warned.
You can use carob in many different ways. It’s a delicious plants based item that can make amazing desserts and treats.
However, when you go for buying carob chips or powders, look for the ones that are labeled as “dairy-free” because they are sometimes mixed with other regular ingredients that may not suit your diet.
Tips for swapping chocolate for carob
As you can see, you can easily swap chocolate with carob. You can swap the powder and chips one-to-one. However, if you haven’t tasted carob before and are using it for the first time, taste a few chips to get a feel for the taste, see if you’d like it.
Then you can try slowly replacing chocolate with carob.
For example, if your recipe calls for one cup of choco chips, go for a half cup of carob chips and a half cup of chocolate chips to see if you’re getting desired results or not.
And because carob chips are naturally sweet, you should use less sugar in your recipes. You can eliminate about a third of the amount of original sugar that is needed in the recipe with chocolate chips.
Moreover, the carob chips don’t melt that easily like regular chocolate chips. The cooking time and techniques can differ, so pay special attention to it.
In short, you can use carob chips and powder as you would use chocolate chips and cocoa powder. They are a big different, but for vegan and dairy free recipes you’ll definitely get very similar results.
So go ahead and try out carob, you might just discover a raw favorite ingredient.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.