What is more American than homemade chocolate chip cookies? An easy thing I could make in our French kitchen for the people I wanted to thank before returning to the US. In general I avoid trying to make anything too “American” in a French kitchen, especially when it comes to baking. So many differences in the simplest of recipes– ingredients, measurements, equipment, temperature – turns any small project into an all-day or multiday affair. Cookies turned out to be just as problematic. Thankfully I had brought baking powder, baking soda, and US measuring spoons and cups from home. But still that left the problem of finding brown sugar and chocolate chips. For the sugar I substituted a granulated cane sugar for both the brown and the white. It didn’t dissolve as nicely into the butter as a finer sugar would, but only a true cookie connoisseur would really notice the difference. The chocolate chip issue turned out to be a point of discovery, namely Lindt baking chocolate. I coarsely chopped a 200 gram bar and voila I had melt in your mouth chocolate morsels that are now my “chocolate chip” of choice.
Baking sheets, surprisingly, were nowhere to be found. Not in the house where we were staying nor at the Carrefour (a sort of French Wal-Mart, but with way better food). I ended up using a rotation of every baking dish I could find in the house, baking just 8-12 cookies at a time. Since in my mania I had also decided to bake a batch of peanut butter cookies (luckily I found peanut butter in the international section of the Carrefour) the baking process was about 4 times longer than it should have been. I therefore froze half the cookie dough and finished baking rest of the cookies on a subsequent evening. Cooling racks were also mysteriously missing. Don’t these people bake? In a pinch a refrigerator shelf makes a descent substitute.
In the end, problems resolved, the resulting cookies tasted American and made a great gift.