We knew about carob powder, of course, used sometimes as a substitute for cocoa. It's more nutritious and doesn't contain caffeine.. but it doesn't taste so good, either. I've used it occasionally in baking, but am not a huge fan.
However, eating a meal with some friends a couple of years ago, we were offered a bottle of carob syrup as a topping for chocolate mousse. And it was very good.
I then started looking out for carob syrup in the shops. Occasionally this brand - shown on the right - is on offer at Metro.
More often, however, I buy this variety in a larger bottle, at our favourite Achna froutaria.
What is carob syrup?Carob syrup is a totally natural sweetener extracted from the pods of carob trees which grow all over Cyprus. All right, so it's boiled and heavily processed, but still - it doesn't contain any chemical additives. Carob syrup is considered a health product: it contains a surprising number of vitamins, can aid digestion, stabilise blood sugar and cholesterol, and even act as a natural antibiotic.
How do we use carob syrup?We don't personally use it as much as we could, because we don't eat many sweet or baked products at all. Richard uses it in coffee if he has it black, and usually has a teaspoonful of carob syrup in frappés in the summer, as he likes them sweetened and it's obviously better for him than sugar.
I also use carob syrup instead of honey (or mixed with half honey) in the granola I make for my breakfast. It's a thick, viscous liquid with consistency quite similar to clear honey, so it could theoretically be substituted for honey - or molasses/treacle - in most recipes, so long as it would be appropriate to have a mild chocolate-like flavour. I may well use it instead of golden syrup the next time I make gingerbread, now that Autumnal weather is slowly easing in.