Muffin Monday: Making a Mockolate out of a Muffin
“Oh come on it tastes just like chocolate.” Liar.
“You won’t know the difference.” Liar.
“I like it better than chocolate.” Liar and/or crazy.
These were the things I heard and then thought about Carob as a kid. Ever had the stuff? I remember growing up and Carob being touted as the vegan and superior alternative to chocolate. Lower in fat, dairy free and so much better for you! I also remember the level of disappointment I had when I first tried it and how heavy my heart felt at the betrayal of seeing something that looked just like chocolate and tasted like…like…well, NOT chocolate. I probably looked at my mother as the confectionery equivalent of Judas for letting me even put the blasted thing in my mouth. Everything that Whole Foods (actually at the time it was still called Fresh Fields) promised me was lies and even my mother, sainted mother, told me she thought carob tasted delicious. I thought it tasted like a practical joke. Chocolate?! More like Mocklate. ****TRIVIA TIME: Mockolate was a Chocolate substitute on which show—tell me who, what,where, when, why and win a prize****
Forget the cake, the CAROB was a lie and I didn’t eat it again for years. Then sometime in high school I suppose idle curiosity got the better of me. I was exploring food as my palate opened up in adulthood and thought I’d give it another try. Nope. Nope. Nope. Still tasted nothing like chocolate BUT it didn’t taste like betrayal anymore so that was… something. It was interesting and different and flavor, now unfettered by the criminally offensive lies of my youthful exposure, was worth at least finishing the bar. That is how you begin to acquire a taste for something.
I realize I’m not exactly working to sell you on Carob here but I’m just trying to make it very clear for those of you who’ve never tried it: it is NOT chocolate. If you go into this recipe with that expectation I’m afraid you’ll be turned off and miss out on the carob train like I did for a solid decade. Carob has a very distinct, original taste. It’s milder that chocolate, sweeter with a higher volume of sucrose and what makes it really attractive—it has a slew of health benefits. I’ll be comparing it to chocolate here, not because it tastes similar, but because you can use carob like you would use chocolate. You’re not going to get the same result but something new and potentially (or in the case of my muffins definitely) delicious. Carob comes in chips, syrups and powdered form which make it really versatile in recipes where you might otherwise use chocolate or corn syrups. You might find yourself inclined to use it more too when you find out about all the good it can do for you!
Caffeine Free: chocolate has naturally occurring caffeine which can be a problem for people sensitive to the stuff. Carob won’t give you that caffeine buzz and it also as another benefit is free of Theobromine. That’s the stuff in chocolate that makes it incredibly dangerous and deadly to your four-legged friends. Carob is safe for making dog treats or, in the case of some devious dogs, is safe for when a cake disappears from the dining table.
Rich in Calcium: forget the chocolate milk—carob has THREE TIMES as much calcium as milk.
Soluble Fiber: yup Jamie Lee Curtis would be proud to tell you that carob is good at keeping you nice and regular. Locust Bean Gum is made from carob and used often as a thickening agent for this reason. So if you even read that ingredient and wondered what the fuck locust beans are, don’t worry, they aren’t beans and they are made from locusts. Just KIDDING. They aren’t made from locusts. I repeat they are not….
Tannins: carob is unique, from what I’ve read, in that the types of tannins it promotes are highly astringent in the digestive tract. This makes it a double whammy, both good at keeping you regular but also good at killing off bad bugs and has been traditional an alternative medical treatment for bacterial diarrhea in children.
And with that I’m totally making you hungry right?
Why does my blog invariably seem to mention bowel movements and recipes within moments of each other???
Oh well. Onto the muffins!
Carob Walnut Muffins
An Olivia Original – (Vegan & Soy Free)
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ¼ cup carob flour (i.e. ground carob powder)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup flax milk
- ¼ cup almond or coconut yogurt
- ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
- ½ cup carob chips
- ½ cup toasted walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350F (Carob can burn so I like to go a little lower than the usual 375 for muffins here)
Prep two muffin tins—this will make approximately 15 muffins.
In a large bowl sift together the dry goods: flour, carob flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Set aside.
In another bowl whish the milk, yogurt and oil. Pour over the dry goods and stir JUST until blended and flour is fully incorporated. Mix in the carob chips and walnuts.
Scoop into your muffin tins so they are about ¾ of the way full to the top and bake for about 16-18 minutes—checking to make sure they don’t overcook.
Remove and place the tray on a cooling rack. After a minute be sure to move the muffins out of the pan and let come to room temperature.