One of the fun things about traveling far from my NYC foraging grounds is that I get to learn new-to-me wild edible plants and play with them in the kitchen. That’s how these carob ginger snap cookies came to be.
Here in Jerusalem, at the outskirts of the Ramot forest, every day I walked past a pile of pods that lay beneath the tree (Ceratonia siliqua) that they had fallen from. One day the forager’s identification lightbulb illuminated, and I realized that I’d been passing by carob pods.
By the way, you don’t have to be in the Middle East to find carob trees growing. My friends in the western states of the U.S. should be able to find them as well.
The smell brought back memories from my childhood: the hippie adults I was surrounded by thought carob was healthier than chocolate and therefore substituted it in many recipes. Actually, if you use carob as a chocolate substitute, it is disappointing. But if you appreciate that carob has its own unique and excellent scent and taste, then it is a first rate ingredient.
But before I could make the carob ginger snaps, I had to make carob powder. With carob, it’s not the seeds you use but the pod that surrounds the seeds.
These pods can be quite tough, especially if you collect them long after they’ve fallen from the tree, as I did.
It helps if you soften them. I did this by first rinsing the pods clean and then covering them with water in a large pot. I brought the water to a boil and then turned off the heat and let the pods soak for a few hours.
Well, it was supposed to be just a few hours, but I fell asleep so it ended up being overnight.
The next day I split the now softened pods open with a paring knife and discarded the seeds.
After that, I pulverized the pods in batches in a blender (really missing my food processor back in Brooklyn, which would have made this job much easier). I wasn’t after a perfectly smooth grind, just a coarse pulp that I could spread out on a baking sheet and dry in a low (200F) oven.
Once dried, I ground the carob in an electric coffee grinder, et voila! Carob powder, ready to be made into these delicious cookies. I made a vegan version because we are going to visit my bf’s vegan son and fiancee, but you could substitute butter for the coconut oil if that’s not an issue.
Carob Ginger Snap Cookies
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Whisk together these dry ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup carob powder
1/2 cup sugar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup date syrup (molasses or a dark honey would work, too)
1/3 cup coconut oil (or butter if you prefer)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients. On a plate, mix together:
1/4 cup carob powder
2 tablespoons sugar
- Form 1 or 1 1/2-inch balls out of the dough and roll them in the carob-sugar mixture. Flatten each ball slightly between the heels of your hands. Place them on a cookie sheet with a little space in between each one and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. They will get crunchy as they cool.
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