I love to bake.
I could spend, and often do spend, hours in my kitchen making cakes, muffins, waffles…anything that involves sugar and the oven. One of my all time favorite things to bake is cookies. All kinds, of course, but my favorite is the basic chocolate chip.
And that’s a problem in Belgium. On so many levels.
Because here are the steps to make a good, American chocolate chip cookie…. in Belgium.
1. Shop for ingredients.
Flour. There are approximately 125432513654 different kinds of flour available at your average grocery store and they are categorized for what they are used for. Patisserie, sauces, thickener, pain gris, pain blanc, pain complet… All purpose isn’t a thing here.
- White sugar is sold by crystal size. What?
- Brown sugar doesn’t pack. It’s all loosey-goosey like white sugar.
- Baking soda comes in a shaker can. Not handy for proper measuring.
- Baking powder. Comes in tiny little envelopes, though it used to only be available at the pharmacy, so at least that’s changed.
- Vanilla doesn’t come as an extract but as “vanilla sugar”. How that translates I have yet to discover.
- Butter doesn’t come in 8 tablespoon sticks but as one huge hunk. Ingredients here are generally weighed instead of measured by mass. It’s actually a more precise way of measuring. Unless your kitchen scale is as bad as mine.
- Eggs. Are kept on the shelf. Not in the fridge. That one you just have to get over.
- Chocolate chips? Nope, not here. Buy your chocolate in baking bars and chop it yourself. Don’t complain, though. It’s Belgian chocolate, after all.
- Sour cream? Doesn’t exist. Yogurt is the next best thing, or so I’m told.
- Salt? No change. How about that?
2. While you’re at the grocery store, consider buying “American Brownies” instead and forget all the other weird ingredients (like shelf eggs).
3. When you’re home with your ingredients, (shelf eggs and all) and ready to bake, first grab the transformer, plug it in, plug your mixer into the transformer and try to not trip over all the cords snaking around the kitchen.
4. Consult your Fahrenheit to Celsius guide (350F = 180C)
5. Now! Follow the recipe.
6. When you’re done, wash everything by hand. Your dishwasher is too small for anything but the measuring spoons.
7. Discover that the trash bag is full. Pull out the last new one from the roll that cost ten Euro. Feel guilty. Forget to ask the man behind the register for new ones the next time you’re at the store.
8. Freeze extra dough, but not before moving around everything in your teeny-tiny freezer to make enough space.
9. Clean up remaining ingredients, including putting shelf eggs in the refrigerator. Where. They. Belong.
I have lots of chocolate chip cookie recipes. I mean, lots. But here is the one I make most often, as it’s Ben’s favorite. Keep in mind this recipe is made for American ingredients. I’ve never actually substituted yogurt for the sour cream, or used Belgian brown sugar for anything other than sprinkling on crepes. Yay for the American commissary! If you do try it the Belgian way, let me know how it goes. (I have used shelf eggs, though. I just try not to think about it.)
Cakey Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temp
1/4 white sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1 egg (shelf or otherwise)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp sour cream
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugars together until pale and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with sour cream, and beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and freeze at least ten minutes.
2. Drop dough by tablespoons onto lined baking sheets, about two inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake about 11 minutes.
(Remember the Friends where they tried to figure out Phoebe’s grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe? Or is that just me?)