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Saturday, February 29, 2020

A Leap Month of Little Joys and Satisfactions: When Trying Something New, I Baby-Step My Way In -- My Carob-Chocolate Brownies


Kris touched on this a little the other day in the comments about trying to decide how much pureed pumpkin to use in a recipe as a substitute for oil/butter in a batch of pumpkin bread. She suggested to try a little bit to start and see how the final product turned out. Then, the next time, use a bit more and see what the results are like.

This is exactly how I approach this sort of situation. If I'm just baby-stepping my way with a recipe, trying a small amount of the "new" ingredient, there's less chance it will turn out horrible and a greater chance we will still like the end result. My "usual" formula is to try using 1/4 of the new ingredient to use as a substitute. 


This month when I was cleaning the baking cupboard, I came across a baggie of carob powder. I used to love carob, so when I saw it again I thought I'd enjoy it as a substitute in hot cocoa. for my own taste, it was too fruity and lacked the bitterness that I enjoy in cocoa powder. so the baggie just sat in the cupboard until I found it in my cabinetry excavations.

Yesterday, I was wanting to make some brownies, but we're very low on cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is not a necessity (I could hear several gasps through the internet just now), so it's not high on my grocery priority list. (The best price on cocoa powder is a 20-30 minute drive from my house. I'll pick some up when I'm down that way again.) Anyway, I wanted to make brownies, yet also wanted to spare some of the cocoa powder. Remembering the baggie of carob powder, I decided to substitute 1/4 of the called-for cocoa powder with carob. The brownies came out delicious and absolutely no one knew any different.

Trying just a little at a time is also a good strategy for using up less desirable foodstuffs. I occasionally will get this wild idea to buy a package of seaweed, even though I know I don't like the taste of the stuff. When I come across a lingering package of seaweed in the pantry, I use it up in tiny, tiny amounts added to something like tuna casserole, or chicken soup, or stir fry. The first time i will try a small square of the seaweed torn into tiny bits. The next time, I'll add a bit more, and so on, until it's just too flavorful for me. 

Baby steps. I risk less while trying something new.

12 comments:

  1. My mother went on health-food kick when I was growing up that involved baking with carob. However, she didn't use it a little at a time, and while the carob brownies were okay, they were a poor substitute for the real ones. However, her goal was eliminating chocolate, so I guess she achieved that.

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  2. Lili, wanted to echo what has been said regarding your daily comments this month.I have thoroughly enjoyed your info as always. It was a treat to have more of it! I'm sure the time required to do the posts even on the weekends has taken away from some of your other responsibilities and interests so we really appreciate it! Happy leap day and thanks again!

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  3. My sister doesn't eat any caffeine so she uses carob instead--like L&L, it tastes ok but I think if I've set my mind on a true chocolate experience, it is disappointing. You found a great way to make it work for you! I wonder ... since your goal isn't about reducing caffeine, would it work to add a small amount of instant coffee to your batter? I have done that with a few chocolate recipes and it really intensifies the taste of the chocolate (but then again, with watching your budget, you might not want to use your coffee granules in that way).

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  4. Lili, how is it going in your area with the virus?

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  5. We're doing a lot of substitutions in our kitchen lately. Mainly, to stretch our supplies because we are not planning to shop for awhile. I've also lowered our expectations and standards, which were pretty low to begin with. And cutting out waste, eating less. Is this how our depression era grandparents dealt with shortages?

    Lili, I hope you are doing well. I don't mean to be fear mongering, but too much is unknown about this virus. I believe the Chinese know a lot more about the virus than they are sharing, so based on their draconian measures (after initially quelling news of the outbreak) I'm planning worst case scenario. The about face from not acknowledginthat an outbreak has occurred to locking down entire cities is worrisome to me.

    YHF

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  6. Hi Live and Learn,
    I remember a couple of carob products from the 70s that were very good, but many just were not enough like chocolate. 100% carob brownies might need a little tweaking to the recipe to make them more palatable, as the carob seems to "act" like flour when I bake with it and makes brownies more cakey and less fudgy. The brownies that I made with 1/4 carob 3/4 cocoa powder were very good, though. And like Kris suggested, maybe adding instant coffee powder would also convey something of a chocolate taste.

    I do recall my own mom suddenly switching from Wonderbread to 100% whole wheat bread, and buying other health foods, like wheat germ. I think every decade has their own "health foods." Someday, my kids will recall "health foods" like kale chips, I'm sure.

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  7. Aw, thank you, Lynn! That's sweet of you to say.
    I hope you had a good weekend!

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  8. Hi Kris,
    I think adding a bit of instant coffee to carob powder would be a great way to get that chocolate-like taste. I am still watching caffeine, but I do buy instant decaf coffee. I'll try that if I increase the carob powder in the recipe or if I make hot cocoa using carob. Thank you for the idea!

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  9. Hi Cheryl,
    Thank you for asking. If you are following the news, you can understand why I might be very concerned about coronavirus. Each day brings a new set of bad news. My area has been hard hit in comparison to other US areas. But people should really know -- that is only "so far." Other areas of the US will likely also see a lot of cases, too, as people move about for business and leisure, and testing increases. It is very worrisome. Later today, I'll post some things about how it is in our area and what I am doing and not doing. "Pray and prepare" is my motto for now.
    Thank you for asking, Cheryl.

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    Replies
    1. Will be thinking about you and your family. Stay safe.

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  10. Hi YHF,
    I've been preparing for our household. I'll post more about this later today for tomorrow's post. It's very worrisome. Staying home, if you can, is about the best thing any of us can do. So, you're on the right track. If you have to shop, the best advice I've heard is to go at a time and day that stores would not be crowded. This past weekend, I hear, was crazy in the stores, which to my mind sounds like being in a cesspool of germs under the guise of preparing for a bad scenario. Again, I've got so many thoughts about coronavirus that I'll do this in a full post (or two or three). Keep yourself and hubby safe!

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