April 30, 2013

Bread of Saint John the Baptist

Carob
Carob tree and pods



Recent increase in carob popularity, made me investigate further about this relatively unknown food.

Now is known that Bread of Saint John the Baptist or Carob is the tree that grows mostly in Mediterranean and Middle East area. They say that while John the Baptist was going through the desert, these pods kept him alive.

Carob is mentioned in almost all religious and ancient books. It became popular now as a chocolate replacement and also because its health benefits, in many regions is considered as a remedy for variety of health problems.
In Malta, they make syrup out of carob pods. It’s considered medicine for coughs and sore throat. It's great for digestion, cholesterol, and some say it can even fight e-coli bacteria.





Carob consumed by humans is the dried (and sometimes roasted) pod, and not the 'nuts' or seeds. Carob is mildly sweet and is used in powdered, chip, or syrup form as an ingredient in cakes and cookies, and as mentioned earlier as a substitute for chocolate because it's naturally sweet.



ground carob

Crushed pods may be used to make a beverage; compote, liqueur, and syrup are made from carob in Turkey, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sicily.





Interesting fact is that ancient Greeks determined that every carob pod, regardless its size has weight of 0.18 g. That is later used as a measurement for gold – carat, reason is unclear.



There are many great and sweet recipes where you can use carob or carob chips and here are some that I found interesting:



Carob power bars

Ingredients:
2 cups carob chips
3 tbsp cocoa powder
½ to 2/3 cup coconut milk

Mix of dry fruits and toasted nuts:
3 tbsp chopped toasted walnuts
3 tbsp chopped toasted almonds
3 tbsp ground roasted hazelnuts
3 tbsp chopped dry figs
3 tbsp chopped toasted large coconut flakes
2 tbsp dry candid orange peel          1 tbsp lemon zest




Melt carob in a pan and add cocoa and coconut milk. If the mass is too hard, add one or two teaspoons of water. Mix well. Cool it down a bit and add other ingredients.




On flat surface, take out the mixture and with your hands press down and shape the mixture into large rectangle thick 1/2 inch or 1 cm. Wrap it in aluminum or plastic foil and refrigerate for couple of hours. Cut in squares or bars and serve.

Tip:Use dry fruits and nuts to your taste.

It’s great as a healthy energy replenisher because of it’s natural occurring sweetness in carob.

 



Sweet Carob walnut pasta
Dessert or main course - you decide, but it's a great dish!


Ingredients:
Freshly made egg pasta-1 lb/ 0.5 kg cut in strips*  1 cup (125g) roasted walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon
10g melted unsalted butter
125 g (1 cup) ground carob



Prepare and cook pasta.
In a separate bowl mix other ingredients
and trow just cooked pasta into the mix. Blend all together and serve hot.
If you want more sweet add some sugar or cinnamon sugar at the top or sprinkle with orange juice.

*(see my blog how to make fresh pasta)



Apple carob "lazy" pie:


Dough:

2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup corn flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup apple juice

Middle fill:

2-3 pealed and chopped apples
2 grated apples
¼ cup ground almonds
1 cup raisins
1 cup water
2 tbsp carob ground
1 tbsp ground cinnamon


Prepare the dough by mixing all the ingredients together. Dough should be very soft.

On a stove, cook for about ten minutes, apples and other fill ingredients until the mass is half soft.

Put first layer of dough (1/2 of the mix prepared) in oiled square pan and add Apple filing over. Cover with another layer of prepared dough.

Bake for about half an hour on 250F/180C. Cut in little squares and serve.


Hot carob drink




50 gr ground carob                 
Sugar to taste
o,5 l water
o,5 l milk
whipped cream

Cook carob, water on the stove for five minutes add milk and heat more. Strain it trough a fine strainer and serve with whipped cream at a top.






Marzipan, Pear and Carob cake  





Dough:
6 eggs
80 g sugar
3 dl olive oil
170 g unbleached flour
150 g ground carob
150 g dry prunes
6 pears peeled and sliced
2 tbsp baking powder

Marzipan “cover”:
150 g soft marzipan (thin layer rolled out)

Glaze:
100 g dark cooking chocolate
50 g butter
2 tbsp milk
50 g chopped almonds for decoration

Gluten and sugar free version*:

6 eggs
3 dl olive oil
150 g ground carob
150 g ground almond or hazelnut meal (finely ground roasted nuts)
150 g dry prunes (soaked in brandy for one hour, drained)
6 pears peeled sliced
grated lemon peel
2 tbsp baking powder

Glaze:
100 g melted carob chips
50 g ground and chopped roasted almonds
few spoons of water

Whip sugar and yolks, add oil, flour, carob and baking powder. Add prunes, pears and whipped egg whites. In oiled round pan add this mix and bake in 250 F/180C preheated oven about 30 minutes, covered with a foil. At the end of baking, bake uncovered.

Take out and while is still hot, cover with thin layer of marzipan and glaze it with prepared chocolate glaze with chopped almonds at a top.

*For gluten free version, method is same, just leave out sugar and flour and prepare glaze by melting carob chips with water and adding almonds at the end.

Black and white Carob cookies

Dark layer:

1 cup coconut flour
½ cup carob flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup melted chocolate
3 tbsp coconut or cow milk
½ tsp ground cinnamon, all spice etc..


Light layer:

½ cup coconut milk
1 cup ground coconut
¼ cup lemon juice
3 tsp gelatin


For dark layer:
melt chocolate and milk and add other ingredients to get hard mass.

For light layer warm the milk and add the gelatin according to the instructions and add coconut, lemon. Mix until it starts to get harder and create like gelatin, pudding consistency. Use six cylinders or other cups to shape these cookies. First fill these cups with gelatin light mass almost to the top. Then create dark layer circles in the size of the cups and cover openings of the cups and refrigerate. Before serving take them out of cups by turning them upside down and serving on a plate.

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