CAROB, CHERRY BROWNIES

Carob, cherry brownies
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CAROB, CHERRY BROWNIES

This is the most popular dish that I make. Who doesn’t love cherries? Nobody! Who doesn’t love carob? Admittedly, pretty much nobody likes it and most folks don’t know what it is. Yet! Since the discovery of chocolate’s health benefits, carob has been pretty much abandoned as a flavoring which is a dang shame, however, these brownies will amuse the most die-hard chocolate lover. (Ooh, gotta try ‘em on sister-in-law who ate a whole container of chocolate left over from a cruise ship fountain!)

CHERRIES’ HEALTH BENEFITS

We all know the health benefits of cherries, but here’s a gentle recap.

You know I’m a girl who loves to feed her gut so I’m enthusiastic about the fact that cherries are high in fiber which helps you digest and poop and aids in weight control. A cup of these cute little guys brings 10% of your needed fiber intake for the day.

Cherries contain 16% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C which you need to build bones, blood, muscle and blood vessels and it also helps in the absorption of iron.

Potassium is a mineral that you need for your heart, your kidneys and nervous system as well as your muscles and digestion. Per cup, the level of cherries is 260 milligrams, or 10 percent of the daily recommended intake. Eating processed foods can elevate your sodium and potassium can help balance that. (But ditch the processed stuff anyway.)

This fruit is a good one when it comes to maintaining blood sugar levels, again, beneficial in weight management.

WHAT’S CAROB?

OK. Now to the less popular ingredient- carob. Back in my hippy days, Ben & Jerry’s made a carob ice cream that was rich and delicious. Only my women friends liked it. All the men turned up their noses at the idea of “health food,” “fake chocolate.” I considered it to be itself- another flavor to love. And,  mooshed up in all that sugary cream, a health food?

Carob is made from the ripe, dried, and sometimes toasted pod of the carob tree, a flowering evergreen tree or shrub in the pea family.  Naturally sweet tasting and a little nutty, it contains a nice amount of my favorite-fiber, as well as anti-oxidants and, happily, it contains no caffeine. I have occasional bouts of a fib, so I use no caffeine at all and carob really hits the spot for me in baked goods and hot drinks. (Hm-m-m, I think I’ll create some hot carob drink recipes!)

THE LOWLY OAT

Then we have oats. Oats are pretty much a miracle food. Gluten free, they are super high fiber and help in weight loss, lowering blood sugar levels and reducing heart disease. The other miracle is how yummy they are on their own (think steel-cut oats for breakfast) or in baking. They are great combiners, lacking an overwhelming flavor when mixed with other ingredients, absorb those individual tastes and marrying them into delightful tongue pleasers.

ZIP AND NUTS

Now for the zinger- ginger. Ginger is a spice that has also been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties-reducing cholesterol, lowering blood sugar, reducing the risk of blood clots, etc. I drink ginger tea when I have a tummy ache when I am just feeling icky or tired and it never fails to soothe. Mixing ginger tea with coconut water and lime sparkling water is very refreshing on a hot day. Oops. Off the track here.

I love this seasoning and find that I use it frequently, probably too frequently.  I have to choose my preferred dishes so as not to overginger. If there’s such a word. This brownie recipe is a crowd pleaser that I take with me to parties and ailing friends and neighbors so I ginger it up!

Walnuts provide fat more flavor and fiber in our brownies, as well as nutrients found in no other commonly eaten foods. Please eat the thin skin which does have a bit of a bitter flavor because it contains a majority of the nutrients but that’s why I cook and eat- for the nutrients, then I jazz it up to please the palate and get my husband to eat it! Incidentally, he was one of the carob ice cream scoffers, back in the day. Pull a batch of these cherry brownies out of the oven, and he’s burning his fingers to get them out of the pan!

GINGER, CHERRY CAROB BROWNIES RECIPE:

6 cups frozen, pitted cherries

3 cups walnuts

3 cups rolled oats (I use gluten free.)

1 cup water

½ cup cherry concentrate

4 rounded tablespoons carob powder

4 teaspoons ground, dried ginger

1.    About an hour ahead, set your cherries out in a bowl to thaw. You’re going to want to use the water that comes out of them for your batter. If you don’t have this hour, set their bowl in a larger one of warm/hot water, or defrost for a short amount of time in the defrost setting of your microwave.

2.    In your food processor, whir together your oats, walnuts, carob and ginger until well mixed and the walnuts are powdered

3.    Using a flattish wooden spoon, chop your cherries so that they are broken, not necessarily in pieces, just not whole.

4.    Add the 1 cup water to your dry ingredients. Drain your broken cherries and add the juice to the batter.

5.    Whir together. Your batter will be very thick. If your food processor just won’t do it. Add ¼ cup more water.

6.    Oil a medium size baking pan and scoop your batter into the pan. I’m not calling it dough because it’s not elastic. It’s more like thick mud, actually! You spread it into the pan, pushing it to form a smooth, even surface.

7.    Mix cherry concentrate with the cherries. Pour on top of your mud in an even layer.

8.    Bake at 350 for about 1 hour. I use ceramic pans so I do not preheat. You want the cherries to bubble and the sides to pull away from the pan. They will be soft when you take them out and will set up when they cool.

9.    Cut into bars.

I like to freeze mine. I live in Florida and just remove them from the freezer and much them icy cold.