The entire pulpy and elongated pod is edible and has always managed to find a culinary use. It’s picked in October and November when it turns dark brown. The whole pod can be ground to make flour, which has a wide use. The seed used to be utilised as coffee supplement beverages, while they can also be eaten. Carob’s unique aroma is felt only when you break the pod, while the intense, somewhat pungent flavour may be toned down by combining it with other ingredients such as fruit or nuts.
Carob flour is used to prepare pies, sponge cakes, crepes, biscuits, while it goes great with apples, pears and walnuts. Today carob flour or powder is often used as flour, cocoa or chocolate substitute. When compared to them, it has a lower sugar proportion, which means that carob cakes are definitely a healthier version of your favourite desserts.
The charming, well designed and very trendy restaurant She Bio bistro & bar is located at the very heart of downtown Šibenik. It offers Dalmatian dishes prepared using only local ingredients. Their work has been recognised by the French guide Gault&Millau. The menu at She Bio bistro & bar includes excellent vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and other dishes that have managed to land the leading role in this gastronomic tale through neglected ingredients of the Adriatic and the hinterland. Carob is one of those ingredients. Head chef Toni Radovčić let us in on the secret of preparing the star dish of the dessert list, namely, chocolate and carob mousse with carob being specially obtained from a family farm on the island of Vis.
“This is a vegan, gluten-free dessert. As far as ingredients needed for the mousse go, I use: sweet potato, carob powder, coconut oil, honey, cocoa powder, organic lemon zest, home-grown orange juice and aquafaba, i.e. chickpea water I use instead of egg whites. First I boil the sweet potatoes. When they’re done, I blend them together with the dry ingredients. I whisk the aquafaba using a mixer and add it to sweet potatoes, citrus fruit and other ingredients. Then I put the mixture in the refrigerator. The mouse is served with chocolate chunks or a slice of orange.”
The guide Gault & Millau has included Bol’s restaurant Mali Raj in the romantic restaurant category. In addition to the design typical of island gardens and houses, you’ll be just as mesmerised by the menu where desserts take up a special place. Head chef Marko Marinović prepared a carob crumble and a mini cheese pie for us.
“Carob falls under the category in ingredients used as far as four thousand year ago and was prepared by Romans and Egyptians. When talking about culinary history, we know that John the Baptist used carob bread, while we consider carob to be a staple ingredient as we also have a carob tree in the restaurant’s garden. We use carob to make a biscuit that’ll be used later on in the crumble, a crunchy bed served with cheese pie cream. We need the following ingredients to make the biscuit: powdered sugar, carob flour, vanilla sugar, three eggs, coarse flour, butter and salt. We prepare the carob flour ourselves. First we boil the pods, dehydrate them and then grind them. Once we made a mixture using all the ingredients, we put the sponge cake in the oven at 180 to 200 °C for twenty minutes. Once the sponge cake is ready, it should be crunchy as a biscuit. Then we need to grind it and put it at the cup bottom. In order to prepare the cream we use cow cottage cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest, a bag of gelatine and six tablespoons of sugar. We compose the dessert by putting the crumble first, the cream and then we pour it over with wild berries or serve meringue, whipped egg white cream with lavender flowers.”
If you want to spend autumn days surrounded by the picturesque Dubrovnik hinterland and the fertile fields of Konavle, family farm and restaurant Kameni Dvori will blow you away with its authentic vibe where you’ll get a chance to enjoy local specialties typical of southern Croatia. Co-owner Katarina Mujo uses the carob growing in her yard to prepare desserts and liqueurs.
“When we plant carob, we usually say that our grandchildren will get to harvest it. Carob is picked now in October or November when its fruits turn brown. It can also be eaten raw, you just have to break it. What’s interesting about carob is that all of its seed are the same size. We prepare a very simple carob and semolina cake and you don’t need a mixer for. When it comes to ingredients, we use, carob flour, plain wheat flour, semolina, baking powder, oil, sugar and yogurt. When we stir all the ingredients, we put it in an oven at 150 °C for forty minutes. When it’s ready, we cover it with a chocolate glazing. “
Carob liqueur is also served with cakes.
“Homemade grape brandy served as the liqueur’s base. We add a bit of sugar, lemon, a vanilla pod, carob pods we tear into smaller chunks and we leave it all to stand for about two to three months in a darker room. Once the liqueur is ready, we filtrate it and it’s ready to be served.”
Although somewhat forgotten, carob trees grow almost spontaneously. They’re very rewarding because almost all of their parts are usable, whereas their culinary application is rather large. In addition to harking back to childhood desserts, carob flour is an ingredient that meets all of modern culinary needs and is ideal for a vegan, diabetic and gluten-free diet.