Is carob a decent substitute for chocolate?
Carob is a brown powder made from the pulverized fruit of a Mediterranean evergreen. Some consider carob an adequate substitute for chocolate because it has similar nutrients (calcium and phosphorus), and because it can, when combined with vegetable fat and sugar, be made to approximate the color and consistency of chocolate. Of course, the same arguments can as persuasively be made in favor of dirt. :)
Perhaps the primary benefit of carob as a chocolate substitute is that, unlike cocoa, carob contains no caffeine or theobromine. Both of these chemicals (which belong to a family of substances called methylxanthines) are stimulants; while caffeine works primarily on the central nervous system, theobromine stimulates the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. That is why carob is definitely is frequently used as a chocolate substitute in treats for our four-legged friends.
However, on us bipedal humans, many of us enjoy the benefits of caffeine and theobromine - they are part of what gives chocolate its energy-inducing kick. And then there's the issue of taste. In our humble, biased opinion there simply is no substitute for real artisanal chocolate
. Nothing has the texture, flavor, and versatility that cacao brings to the cooking table.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Stop by our shop in downtown St Paul and sample some of our incredible chocolate confections. I'll wager that you'll end up with some chocolate of your own - and not carob.