Friday, December 30, 2011

Carob truffles

December 29, 2011
The end of 2011 brings with it the end of one where's the beef? tradition. This here is our final calendar recipe! Michael's mum gave us some beautiful Japanese-style crockery for Christmas in lieu of material for a "Robyn's Recipe Calendar 2012" tag.

I'll confess to some trepidation ahead of making this recipe. I haven't eaten carob in about 15 years - back then carob buds were 40 cents a packet at the school tuckshop and thus one of the more popular sweets. Now with more disposable income and a weakness for dark chocolate, I've not sought out carob in a long time. It seems fewer and fewer other people are seeking it out either: the sales assistant at Brunswick's Organic Wholefoods drew a blank and theorised that with dark chocolate now sold as an antioxidant-rich health food, there mightn't be much market for carob. Michael had more luck in Smith St's sister store.

That's if you ever want to consider sugar-free soya carob lucky. It's a pretty joyless product, earthy and floury and nearly 30% palm oil. I was not feeling any more optimistic after my test nibble at the corner. But determined to see this tradition through to the bitter, chocolate-free end, I persevered with the recipe. The carob melted to a silky puddle and combined smoothly with the other more truffle-like ingredients. I added an extra dash of maple syrup to ensure a bit of sweetness, rolled them out, popped them in the fridge and... they were alright. Not chocolate, of course, but pretty good. As if my carob anxieties weren't enough, I'd been sceptical about mixing sultanas and peppermint but that totally worked. You could even increase the quantities of each, I reckon!

I ate several of these at my desk the following afternoon and they sustained me through a few hectic hours. I really, actively enjoyed them; I did not expect that. I'm still not sure that I want to buy sugar-free carob again, though. Are there any carob fanciers out there? Do you have any serving suggestions for us uncreative chocolate lovers?

Carob truffles

2/3 cup hazelnuts
1 1/2 tablespoons cream or 1 tablespoon soy milk
2 tablespoons sultanas
1 tablespoon maple syrup
100g milk or soy carob
peppermint essence

Grind one-third of the hazelnuts to a coarse meal, and roughly chop the remainder. In a bowl, stir together the ground hazelnuts, cream/milk, sultanas and maple syrup. Gently melt the carob and add that to the sultana mixture. Add peppermint essence to taste, and mix well. Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes.

Roll the mixture into balls with your hands, and press in the chopped hazelnuts to coat the balls. Refrigerate the balls further before eating.


  1. love the crockery but am less sure about carob - have tried it recently and it can sort of work if I don't compare it to chocolate - there is an unfair contest when I do compare the two - but I can sort of appreciate its caramel flavours

    interestingly there are those I see on the blogosphere who choose it over chocolate for health reasons so I was surprised to hear that it is less popular - I have bought bars of it in the supermarket but they were pretty awful

  2. I've never had carob before, in fact I had to google it to see what it was :P It sounds fantastic with truffles!
    Happy New Year!

  3. Hmm, the first time I heard of this was over at Hannah's (wayfaring) blog... I'm still not too sure about them :P Have an awesome new year!!

  4. I love carob - but don't usually love the commercial, palm oil packed varieties. So this recipe is a very welcome one! Thank you :)

  5. Oh, fascinating! I actually do like the unique flavour of carob so long as it's entered into with the firm understanding that it isn't chocolate-y, but all the recipes on my blog use carob powder, not carob blocks. I've stayed away from that on account of the milk solids that are 99% always involved and the dreaded palm oil. I do miss the dairy-free carob chips made with better oils that I bought in America though!

  6. Johanna - I agree that it's an unfair contest when pitted against chocolate! But it's difficult to avoid when it's packaged like this.

    Welcome, Akika, and happy new year!

    msihua - happy new year to you too! Yep, I remember Hannah posting about carob too; thanks for the tip.

    Kari - what sort of carob do you buy, and where from?

    Hannah - boy, am I glad to see you here! I actually bought some carob powder along the way to eventually finding the block, so I'll refer to your recipes when I'm ready to open it. :-)

  7. i've never been a fan of carob bars/fake chocolate but i've always loved carob pods - my grandma used to have tree (they're massive) and she would feed us and the goats the pods - you don't eat the seeds. I like carob brownies made with carob powder and date puree though - although one time I made them they ended up tasting like chocolate brownies - which wasn't actually what I was originally aiming for!

    1. Welcome, Rosyapple! Those pods sound really interesting, and I can imagine the brownies making a nice snack in their own non-chocolatey right. :-)