Big News from The Continent

…where reader RS has taken a giant step forward in perfecting the Franco-American chocolate chip cookie. If you’ve ever seen an American baked goods section in, say a Parisian pastry shop, you may remember the very sad, flat looking chocolate chip cookies that typically appear in them. Recently in a post on European butters I suggested that that the sharper melt point of many higher-fat Euro butters (a tendency to go from solid to liquid faster when exposed to heat) probably causes them to spread more in the oven.

Reader RS, an American currently living in France, wrote to say he was experiencing that very problem. We put our heads together to consider what we could do about it, and decided on adding acid (a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or a little tartaric acid) to the mix. The object: to cause the egg white proteins in the batter to coagulate a little during mixing. The hope was that an American-style cookie could then be achieved without sacrificing fat or flavor.

Well, RS reported today that it worked like a charm. He produced a batch of perfect American-style chocolate chip cookies from his host family using only French ingredients. RS has not weighed back in to report exactly how much acid went into the standard Wakefield recipe, I presume all that will come out in the press conference that’s no doubt underway. But chocolate chip cookie lovers of France take heart. A thick, rich, easy-to-make chocolate chip cookie may be within your grasp!

12 thoughts on “Big News from The Continent”

    1. In fact they do! Some Europeans consider sweet cream butter to be superior to cultured if you can believe it! They are few, but they’re out there. 😉


      – Joe

  1. The reference to “weighed back in”…that wasn’t due to the overwhelming urge to eat all those great cookies and make more and more and more???

    That’s awesome. American ingenuity…with European ingredients.

    1. I appreciate your confidence, Dani. I need you to testify on my behalf to Mrs. Pastry.

      – Joe

      1. I’ll pass any interesting pastry element I come across your way. Are you familiar with the so called fairy floss- the artisanal pulled sugar from the Orient?

  2. It’s nice to hear that someone in France thinks our sweet cream butter is worthy of importation! I love sweet cream butter and have almost felt embarrassed by my preference for it because those who like French cultured butter make it sound like the other is so…watered down and bland and we who like it so…unsophisticated. I guess I’ve not had good cultured butter because what I have tried tastes so tangy, almost like cheese but greasy. Not what I expected at all. It’s so expensive that I have been reluctent to buy another brand to see if what I tried was bad or typical of the flavor profile.

  3. I found that the biggest issue in France was finding an equivalent of brown sugar. Many French people seem to think that “cassonade” (our turbinado) is the same but it’s not. That said, you can find brown sugar, under the name “vergeoise” in some large supermarkets.

  4. Hey Joe,

    Updates on the cookie-making: I used one teaspoon of lemon juice added to a halved recipe of Leite’s consummate chocolate cookie recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I added the acid after mixing the eggs into the creamed butter and sugar. I let the dough rest in the fridge for a few hours before baking, and kept it chilled between batches–the oven is small and only fits one tray at a time. I also used parchment paper which might have helped some, since the baking sheet is black and shiny and I feel like an excessively smooth baking surface was probably working against me too. I slightly underbaked the first tray for a chewy cookie and made the second tray crunchier–in both cases, they were exactly how they would have turned out at home! Success!

    Re: Charlotte and brown sugar, I’ve been using “sucre complet de canne,” which I find regularly with the other sugars at Carrefour under the brand name Ethiquable. It’s probably closer to dark brown sugar than light brown sugar, but it’s got the moisture I’m used to in American brown sugars, unlike cassonade which is generally more like granulated sugar.


    PS- I’m actually a girl with a French boy’s name–believe me, I’m used to the confusion, especially over here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *