The Other Chocolate Chip: Carob Chips

Ingredient Spotlight

I have always felt alternately fascinated and frustrated by carob chips. They're advertised as a low-sugar chocolate substitute, but as any true chocolate devotee will confirm, they are definitely not chocolate. So what's up with carob chips? Do you ever bake with them?

Carob chips are made from the pod of the carob tree, a small Mediterranean shrub. The pods are dried, roasted, and ground into carob powder before being made into chips or used in other applications.

Carob is less bitter than chocolate and has a natural sweetness. The chips require little or no added sugar to make them palatable. To me, carob chips have a roasted flavor that makes them similar to chocolate, but lack chocolate's richness and melty texture.

To its low-sugar character profile, also add the fact that carob chips are low in fat, high in fiber, and contain no caffeine. They can be substituted one-for-one with chocolate chips in any recipe and used to make vegan-friendly treats.

Carob chips definitely have a lot going for them! I actually think the biggest thing to keep in mind when baking with them is that they're not chocolate. I mean this in a genuine way: don't expect carob chips to taste exactly like chocolate. They are their own ingredient with their own particular flavor and texture.

Before using them for the first time, taste a few on their own and think about what recipes they might work best in. Personally, I like them best in baked goods that have a slightly savory component, like granola bars or zucchini bread.

Do you bake with carob chips? What are your favorite recipes that use them?

Related: All-Time Favorites: 9 Scrumptious Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes

(Image: Nuts.com)