Sunday, March 18, 2007

Why Eat Carob? For the Love of Chocolate—without Caffeine

Have you ever tasted carob? It's like chocolate, only not quite. If you are allergic to chocolate, cannot eat chocolate because of the caffeine, or simply want the fun of a slightly different twist on the chocolate brownie, I present to you, the carob brownie. Chewy and delectable and in every way as yummy as a chocolate brownie except you won't feel hyper after eating a few.

I served it to my three year old last night, and she assumed it was that taboo food group, "chocolate"—therefore she was thrilled to bits to be allowed to eat it! (Chocolate makes my skinny little girl cranky—and then it keeps her from taking her nap! Anything to avoid that outcome.) So, in honor of my little Jaclyn, a carob brownie that even a preschooler could love.

Note: this is not a vegan recipe—it contains butter and eggs. I prefer butter and eggs in my baked goods. You can find vegan carob brownie recipes easily, though, using any search engine.

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
13/4 cups turbinado sugar
1 1/4 cups carob powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
cup unsalted, chopped nuts, your choice

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
  3. In a medium sized microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter on low heat, then add the sugar and stir to combine.
  4. Microwave briefly, just until it's hot but not bubbling. It will become shiny looking as you stir it. Heating the buter and sugar a second time will dissolve more of the sugar, which will yield a shiny top crust on your brownies.
  5. Transfer the mix to a mixing bowl.
  6. Stir in the carob, salt, baking powder, and vanilla.
  7. Add the eggs, beating till smooth; then add the flour and nuts. Stir until well combined.
  8. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake the brownies for 30 to 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set both around the edges and in the center.
  10. Remove from the oven, and after 5 minutes loosen the edges with a table knife, this will help preven the brownies from sinking in the center as they cool. Cool completely before cutting and serving.