Carob powder comes from the seed pod of the carob tree that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is dark brown in color and often used as a substitute for chocolate. Carob was enjoyed in ancient Egypt, and was once an important sweetener before sugar cane and sugar beets became available. Dried carob fruit is traditionally eaten on the Jewish festival of Tu Bishvat.
Carob can be purchased raw or toasted. I like it toasted because it lends a beautiful dark rich color to recipes. Unlike chocolate, carob is mildly sweet, it contains no caffeine, and has no theobromine which is toxic to dogs. I often substitute carob powder for cacao powder, or use half carob, half cacao in order to reduce the caffeine impact for sensitive people, children, and for desserts eaten in the evening before bedtime