Go to any restaurant and four out of five desserts on the menu will include chocolate. Go to any outdoor picnic or get-together and the most common desserts will also contain chocolate, whether brownies, cakes or cookies. Even when you want a ready made healthy snack, many trail mixes or granola bars are loaded with some kind of chocolate chip. What torture it is for those, like my husband, who are allergic to this wonderfully intoxicating comfort food. You can, of course, substitute chocolate with carob chips and carob powder. Place the chips in a trail mix and they are tolerable. But replacing them in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, does not even come close.
The good news is that carob powder is healthier for you than cocoa powder. It has about 115 times less fat, twice as many carbohydrates and calcium and 70 times less sodium. The bad news is that you need to use one and a half to two times as much carob powder to get the taste that you crave. Unlike the chips, the powder comes closer to tasting like the real thing even to those, like me, who swear they do not like the taste of carob. Keep in mind that carobs, like cocoa, contain the same tannins that are bad for young children.
Although this first recipe takes a little time, it is still easy to do and well worth the effort. I do recommend, and finally broke down and bought, a 9-inch square pan. An 8-inch square pan keeps the dough too moist. The recipe allows for variations. Feel free to use cherry, coffee, yogurt, peanut butter, cinnamon or mint-flavored chips or dried cherries and a complementary extract (instead of the almond extract), depending upon what you like. During the summer use a toaster oven and bake this outdoors. It works just fine, although you may want to add another five minutes to the baking time.
BROWNIES Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and flour a 9 inch by 9 inch pan.
Mix and set aside:
1/2 cup all purpose flour,
1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
Beat and set aside:
3 oz. cream cheese (softened) and
1/4 cup sugar.
Add to the cream cheese mixture:
1/2 tsp vanilla extract and
1/2 tsp almond (or other) extract and stir in
1/3 cup of your favorite flavored chips or dried cherries.
1/2 cup of carob powder and
1/2 cup melted margarine or butter.
1 cup sugar,
2 eggs (beaten) and
1/2 tsp vanilla.
Add the flour mixture to the above and pour half the carob mixture into the bottom of the floured pan. Pour the cream cheese filling over this and then the remaining carob mixture on top. Use a spoon to swirl the colors together and bake 35-40 minutes or until a knife in the center comes out clean. Cut into squares.
NO BAKE COOKIES This should already be on your list of summer recipes. Makes about 24-30.
Mix and cook on a stove top:
3/4 cup sugar,
1/4 cup carob powder,
1/4 cup milk and
1/4 cup butter or margarine.
Cook a minute after it boils. Then add:
1/2 tsp vanilla,
1/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 cups oatmeal and
Stir well, drop by teaspoonfuls on wax paper and chill till firm. A cookie scoop works perfectly for this. There are many substitutions you can try, including smooth peanut butter and sunflower seeds or coconut flakes. I have even used cereal crumbs from the bottom of the boxes, which I save for emergencies or when I run low on oatmeal.
My husband no longer has to deny himself the rich, yummy and addictive flavor of chocolate. And now, neither do you.
Copyright 2007 by Linda Murdock. Linda Murdock is the best-selling author of A Busy Cook's Guide to Spices, How to Introduce New Flavors to Everyday Meals. Unlike most spice books, which are organized by spice, here you can turn to a particular food, whether meat, vegetable or starch, and find a list of spices that go well with that food. Recipes are included. Not only is your well-written book an excellent resource for the novice in the kitchen, it is a quick reference for the food professional.--The Ingredient Store To learn more go to http://bellwetherbooks.com
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