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Chocolate FAQs

chocolate

My chocolate has gray streaks. It is okay to use?

That’s called bloom and it happens when the chocolate melts or gets warm, and then cools again without being tempered. When you buy chocolate, it is already tempered. However if it’s exposed to heat or melted, it can fall out of temper and lose its emulsification. (You can read my instructions for how to temper chocolate.)

Those streaks that you see are harmless swirls of cocoa fat rising to the surface because when the chocolate was warmed, it lost its emulsion (like chicken stock or vinaigrette, which separates when heated, then cooled). Similarly, if there are crystal-like formations on the surface, those indicate ‘sugar bloom’ and the chocolate is safe to use. In either case, the chocolate can be melted and used as normal. If there is green mold, or anything furry, that means the chocolate got damp. In that case, it should be tossed.

How long does chocolate last?

Contrary to what you may hear, dark chocolate lasts around five years. That’s in part due to the high amount of antioxidants, as well as the sugar, which is a preservative. Milk chocolate and white chocolate contain milk solids and should be used within a year.

What’s the difference between bittersweet and semisweet chocolate?

Technically nothing. Both chocolates must contain a minimum of 35% cacao solids in the US. Some manufacturers that make both will often call their sweeter chocolate “semisweet”, although it’s totally arbitrary and they can be used interchangeably in recipes.

What’s the difference between bitter and bittersweet chocolate?

Bitter chocolate contains no sugar, and is often called “unsweetened” or “baking” chocolate. In some countries it’s called 100% cacao since it’s composed only of ground up cocoa bean mass. Because bitter chocolate has no sugar and no added fat (cocoa beans are about half fat), it is more stubborn to melt and may be slightly grainy in custard and ice cream recipes. Often that can be mitigated by whirling the mixture in an electric mixer before cooking or churning it.

There is so substitution of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate for the other, although if you don’t have unsweetened chocolate, you can replicate it by mixing 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or melted butter to equal 1 ounce of unsweetened (bitter) chocolate. Mix them together as a paste and you can use that for unsweetened chocolate in recipes.

Why does chocolate and liquid melted together sometimes become grainy?

Chocolate is an emulsion, which means when you add something to it, and heat it, you break that emulsion. When melting chocolate, make sure you have at least 1 part liquid to 4 parts chocolate. So if you have 1 ounce of water and melt it with 8 ounces of chocolate, that won’t work and you’ll end up with a seized, grainy mass. You need at least 2 ounces of liquid for 8 ounces of chocolate, or at least 1 part liquid to 4 parts chocolate by weight.

Pure oil, such as peppermint or essential oils, can be added to chocolate in any quantity since the oil doesn’t break the emulsion like water or other liquids do.

melting chocolates

Can I Use Chocolate Chips for Melting in a Recipe?

Most commercial-brands of chocolate chips are made of baking resistant chocolate, fabricated with less cocoa butter than standard chocolate so they keep their shape when heated. (Think of classic chocolate chip cookies with clearly-discernible chips.) If you melt them, you’ll often end up with a sludgy, thick pool of chocolate rather than one that’s smooth.

Some recipes, however, may specifically call for melting chips and although I can’t vouch for every recipe out there, I advise people to follow the author’s advice. Also there are now many chocolate chips that are made from premium-quality chocolate, such as those from Ghiradelli, Guittard, and Scharffen Berger, which can be used for melting, as well as baking in cookies.

What is the best chocolate?

That is a tough question. Like anything edible, many things come into play. Do you like bitter chocolate? Or one that is sweeter? Do you prefer a roasted flavor? Or one that is softer, and creamier?

I tell people that the best chocolate is the one that tastes best to them. So I encourage folks to taste as many chocolates as they can, and choose one they like best.

What Country Makes the Best Chocolate?

Like the previous question, that’s very tough to say. Almost all cocoa beans are grown close to the equator, then shipped for processing, so there is nothing geographically advantageous if they’re processed in America, Belgium, France, or Switzerland. Most of the quality of the finished chocolate comes from the quality of the raw beans, their fermentation, then the roasting, grinding, and mixing at the factory.

I Should Only Bake with Top-Quality, Very Expensive Chocolate. Right?

When you melt chocolate and add it to a batter, such as for brownies or cookies, the finer points of an expensive chocolate may get lost. And while those fancy chocolates may be excellent for nibbling, I’m not sure if using an extremely pricey or rare chocolate is best of baking. I recommend sticking with a middle-range chocolate for baking.

Similarly, many of the new high-percentage chocolate, boasting cocoa contents of 70% and above are very acid and can cause creams and ganaches to break. So I recommend following the advice in the recipe, or using a dark chocolate in the 35-64% range, for best results.

I Can’t Get, or Can’t Afford, Good Chocolate. Any tips?

To boost the flavor of chocolate, you can add 1 teaspoon of instant coffee powder to the recipe. The roasted flavor helps improve and highlight the flavor of the chocolate.

I also like to use chocolate extract, and add a dash to recipes along with vanilla extract (or in place of) in recipes. Some of the ‘top notes’ of flavor are lost when cocoa beans are processed, and chocolate extract replaces many of them. It’s a secret used by some manufacturer’s, and one whiff from the bottle is enough to convince you that it’s a secret worth sharing.

Can I Use Drinking Cocoa or Ground in a Recipe That Calls for Cocoa Powder?

Nope. Both drinking cocoa and ground chocolate are formulated with sugar and sometimes other ingredients, since they’re meant for beverages, not baking.

When a recipe calls for unsweetened cocoa powder, do not substitute anything else.

What’s the Difference Between Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder and Natural? And Can They Be Interchanged?

Dutch-process cocoa means that the beans have been acid-neutralized, which tames the flavor and makes the cocoa darker as well. Many recipes that call for baking powder call for Dutch-process cocoa. Recipes that use baking soda will often call for ‘natural’ (or non-alkalized) cocoa powder. One should not switch one for the other. If you’re unsure of whether your cocoa powder is natural or not, a look at the ingredients will reveal if there is potassium bromate or carbonate in it, an indication it’s been ‘Dutched’.

In Europe, virtually all the cocoa powder is Dutched, whereas in America, both kinds are widely available. Companies like Hershey’s, Nestlé, Ghiradelli, and Guittard make natural cocoa, and Askinosie, a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, produces a ‘natural’ cocoa powder as well.

Hershey’s makes a Dutch-process blend cocoa which is extremely dark (think Oreo cookie- colored) and European brands like Droste and Valrhona are good-quality Dutch-process cocoa powders.

chocolate-covered cups

Paris and Chocolate-Related Posts

What is white chocolate?

Cocoa Powder FAQs

David’s Amazon Chocolate Shop

Why you should use aluminum-free baking powder

Ingredients for American baking in Paris

Bernachon

La Maison du Chocolat

Jean-Charles Rochoux

A l’Etoile d’Or

Valrhona Chocolate School

The Pâtisseries of Paris Guide

Patrick Roger

Le Furet Tanrade

Fouquet

10 Insanely Delicious Things You Shouldn’t Miss in Paris

Paris Favorites

Arnaud Larher

The Great Book of Chocolate

Paris Chocolate & Pastry Shop Archives

Recipes To Use Up Leftover Egg Whites

Italian Almond Cookies

Often bakers and ice cream-lovers will find themselves with a few too many egg whites leftover. So what to do with all of them? It seems I, too, always have a few in a container in the refrigerator. Liquid egg whites can be frozen just as they are. I usually do it in a specific quantity, and label it as such, since there’s nothing more infuriating than needing 1 cup of egg whites and trying to chip that away from a frozen-solid block in the freezer. Some folks devote an ice cube tray to egg whites, slipping one in each indentation so they know exactly how many they have. Just so you know, one large egg white is about 2 tablespoons and weighs 25 grams. I often freeze the whites in plastic containers, then slip them out of the containers, once frozen, then wrap them in plastic and secure them in zip-top freezer bags – with the quantity and date written on the outside.

Here are some favorite recipes of mine, and some from others, that are great ways to use up leftover egg whites:

  • Parisian Chocolate macarons

  • Angel Food Cake

  • Homemade Marshmallows

  • Italian Almond Cookies

  • Financiers (Eggbeater)

  • Egg White Cake (Nami-Nami)

  • Chocolate-Coconut Macaroons

  • Pecan Meringue Cookies (Simply Recipes)

  • Chocolate Angel Food Cake (Serious Eats)

    angel food cake

  • Seven-Minute Frosting (Smitten Kitchen)

  • Crème Brûlée-Pistachio Macarons (Tartlette)

  • Dacquoise (Bay Area Bites)

  • Pavlova (Simply Recipes) and Mixed Berry Pavlova (Smitten Kitten)

  • Kumquat & Chocolate Financier Teacakes (Cannelle-Vanille)

  • Chocolate Angel Food Cake (Epicurious)


    Or…you can make an ice cream ‘volcano’….like I did!

    volcano

    To Start Your Own Volcano: Line a deep bowl with plastic wrap, then fill with layers of ice cream or sorbet. You can either use homemade or store-bought. Either way, the ice cream should be slightly-softened so it’s spreadable.

    It’s best to create layers that are roughly equivalent in size. Add one layer, smooth the top and let it freeze for about an hour. Then add the next and let that freeze as well. You can add as many layers as you want, but three’s my limit and I fancy alternating ice cream and sherbet or sorbet layers.

    Once you’re done with all the layers, trim and line the bottom (the exposed end) with a layer of spongecake, saturating both sides with sugar syrup. Use a favorite spongecake recipe, but the piece should be about 1-inch (3 cm) thick. Make a small amount of sugar syrup by boiling about 1/4 cup (60 ml) water with 2 tablespoons sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool completely, then add a good pour of your favorite liquor. The syrup’s necessary to keep the cake from freezing too firm, but the alcohol can be omitted if you want.

    Now freeze the entire cake really well (which is especially true if, like me, you have to drive 2 hours en route to the party you’re going to and you get stuck in a traffic jam at le péage, the toll plaza, because some knucklehead in front of you didn’t have money or something and traffic’s backed up to lord-knows-where. I thought my heart was going to jump out of my chest. Me was freakin’.)

    To Meringue the Volcano: Add some room temperature egg whites to the bowl of an electric mixer. The amount of egg whites it will take depends on the size of your cake so it’s hard to say, but leftover whipped and sweetened meringue can be baked as cookies. (You can read detailed meringue instructions here.)

    Beat slowly, then increase the speed, adding a pinch of salt, until the egg whites start to hold their shape. Gradually add an equal quantity of sugar while whipping at high speed until thick, glossy and firm. You can add a few drops of vanilla extract if you’d like.

    Remove the cake from the freezer and unmold it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to remove the plastic wrap, but I’m going to tell you anyways. Spread the meringue all over the top and sides. Bury a half an egg shell in the top, open side facing outwards and smooth the meringue up and around it.

    At this point, you can refreeze the cake until ready to brulée—or torch that sucker right away.

    To Serve: Brown the volcano in an oven that’s been pre-heated to a very high temperature, around 500F (260 C). It shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to ‘cook’. I like to finish it with a blowtorch since it looks more dramatic with slightly-burnt edges.

    Fill the egg shell with liquor that’s at least 40% alcohol. Turn off the lights, ignite the liquor*, and let that Krakatoa glow!

    Cut the cake with a narrow, long knife dipped in very hot water.

    *Of course, always take precautions when lighting anything: Make sure nothing is flammable nearby including your sleeves. Avert your face when lighting the flame and keep kids away.

  • How To Make Ice Cream Without a Machine

    People have been making ice cream far longer than the invention of electricity so there’s no reason you can’t make ice cream and sorbets at home without a machine.

    The advantage to using an electric or hand-cranked machine is that the final result will be smoother and creamier. Freezing anything from liquid-to-solid means you’re creating hard ice crystals, so if you’re making it by hand, as your ice cream or sorbet mixture freezes, you want to break up those ice crystals as much as possible so your final results are as smooth and creamy as possible.

    Vanilla Ice Cream

    Machines are relatively inexpensive nowadays with models costing less than $50, and yes, I’ve seen the ball, but if I started tossing one of those around the streets here in Paris, I’d probably get even more strange looks than I normally get. (Plus you’ll need to lug some rock salt home as well.)

    But not everyone has the space or the budget for a machine, so here’s how you can do your own ice cream at home without a churner. I recommend starting with an ice cream recipe that is custard-based for the smoothest texture possible. You can use my Vanilla Ice Cream or another favorite, or even this Strawberry Frozen Yogurt recipe using Greek-style or drained yogurt. The richer the recipe, the creamier and smoother the results are going to be.

    Ice cream made this way is best eaten soon after it’s made—which shouldn’t be a problem.

    Cooking Custard

    Continue Reading How To Make Ice Cream Without a Machine…

    Tips For Making Homemade Ice Cream Softer

    Now that everyone out there’s been churning up ice cream, I’ve been getting a certain amount of questions about homemade ice cream, which I’m going to answer here over the next several weeks.

    I’m going to start with the number one question folks have been asking: Why does homemade ice cream gets harder than commercial ice cream in their freezer? And what can be done to prevent it?

    Salted Butter-Caramel Ice Cream

    While I do address this in The Perfect Scoop (pages 5 and 16), I thought I’d list some strategies here as well. I don’t necessarily follow these all the time, but thought I’d put them out for readers to ponder and use as they see fit.

    Alcohol

    Alcohol doesn’t freeze, which you know if you’re anything like me and keep a bottle of Zubróvka vodka chilled and ready in your freezer. You can add up to 3 tablespoons of 40 proof liquor to 1 quart (1 liter) of your frozen dessert mixture prior to churning. I use vodka if I don’t want the taste of the liquor to intrude on the flavor, but will switch to another liquor such as Grand Marnier or Armagnac to enhance the original flavor if it’s compatible.

    If my mixture is fruit-based, I prefer to add kirsch, a liquor which enhances the taste of stone fruits, like peaches, plums, nectarines, as well as berries. Generally-speaking, I’ll add enough so the taste isn’t very present, often less than a tablespoon.

    For sorbets and sherbets, a glug of Champagne, white wine or rosé is nice with fruit flavors. 1/2 cup (125 ml) can be added per quart (liter) of mixture prior to churning. Or if the recipe calls for cooking the fruit with water, substitute some dry or sweet white wine for a portion of the water; the amount will depend on how much of the wine you want to taste. (Most of the alcohol will cook out but enough will remain to keep your sorbet softer.)

    Sugar

    Like alcohol, sugar doesn’t freeze which is why you shouldn’t futz around with recipes and just reduce the sugar willy-nilly. Almost all frozen dessert recipes use white granulated sugar, however you can replace some or all of the sugar with another liquid sweetener, namely honey or light corn syrup.

    Continue Reading Tips For Making Homemade Ice Cream Softer…

    What vanilla should I buy?

    salt & vanilla

    I sometimes get messages from people pointing me to bargain deals they find on vanilla beans online, but I’m happy to spend a bit more on the top-quality beans that my friend Patricia Rain sources, someone who’s dedicated herself to doing the right thing for the native farmers by working to ensure that the producers she works with get their fair-share of the profits. I suppose it would be different if I was going through a few kilos of vanilla beans a week, but for a couple of beans I split and use per month making Vanilla Ice Cream or adding to a batch of jam, paying an extra couple of dollars per year is money I consider very well-spent. Especially when I pull a slender bean from my stash, roll it around, and take a whiff of the tiny, fragrant seeds that cling to my fingers. The smell of pure vanilla is perhaps the most complex, captivating smell I can think of. We’re often faced with lots of choices in the marketplace.

    And when we are, lots of reasons come into play; economics, quality, price, convenience and politics. For most of us, we’re fortunate that we have the freedom to decide for ourselves what each of us wants to do. But often the things we buy do have a direct effect on local economies, and vanilla, being the most labor-intensive and highly-prized crop in the world, has led to a great deal of violence in the regions where it’s cultivated between growers and rustlers. Many less-fortunate people depend on getting a fair-price for their beans, which directly affects their livelihoods.

    I’m happy to have a supplier that I respect and trust, and who’s dedicated her life and business to working to ensure her products are both of the highest quality and benefit the growers and producers as well. So each time I take that little brown bottle of vanilla from my kitchen cabinet and take a sniff before adding a few drops to whatever I’m baking, I’m gratified for the wonderful scent she’s given me and happy that a very small amount of something can perhaps have a very positive impact.

    vanilla

    Visit Patricia Rain and read more about her vanilla and her relationship with the growers at Vanillaqueen.com


    Tips to Keep Cookies From Spreading

    chocolate chip cookies

    Several of you had asked about how to avoid cookies from spreading out during baking, which can be rather vexing…especially when you’ve gone through all that trouble of getting the counter all covered with flour, then rolling ‘em out, and cutting them into all those nifty shapes.

    So here are some tips…

    Continue Reading Tips to Keep Cookies From Spreading…

    Ice Cream Makers: Buying an Ice Cream Machine

    rockyroadicecream.jpg

    There are a few options to consider when buying an ice cream maker, but rest assured that there’s certainly one that’ll fit within any budget. I’ve had several readers inquiring about ice cream makers and although there’s extensive information in my book, The Perfect Scoop, here’s additional information about the various kinds that are available, to help you make your decision.


    cusinartice50.jpg

    Cuisinart ICE-50BC

    I’ve been using the Cuisinart ICE-50BC with excellent results for the past few years and could not live without it. Not only is the machine very efficient, the price is extraordinary for a self-refrigerating machine. Although if you are a novice, and only make ice cream on rare occasions, it does fall into the “investment” category.

    My ice cream maker has been a real powerhouse and I consider it an indispensable part of my batterie de cuisine nowadays. Some people find the noise bothersome, but frankly—it is a machine and machines make noise. I keep mine in another room when in use.

    I do recommend if you buy this machine to purchase a separate plastic churning arm. Mine lasted several years but eventually snapped and it’s nice to have a spare on hand.


    UPDATE: Cuisinart has released a newer model of this machine, the ICE-100, which boasts a sleeker design and gets good reviews, too.

    Cuisinart ICE-21

    A lower-priced option is a machine such as the Cuisinart ICE-21. This machine is a excellent value. The only drawback is that you’ll need to pre-freeze the canister for 24 hours—no cheating!, before you plan to freeze your ice cream or sorbet. These machines make great ice cream and are extremely affordable.

    kitchenaidicecream.jpg

    KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment

    If you have a KitchenAid mixer, their wildly-popular KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment works very well. I had the opportunity to use one during my visit to the KitchenAid factory, and was really impressed with the care and precision of this attachment.

    Like everything they make, the ice cream attachment did a great job of churning up the various ice creams that I ran through it.

    Note: If you live outside the United States, European KitchenAid mixers are different and the ice cream attachment made for US-models will not work with them.



    You can also find more of my recommendations for machines and ice cream making equipment at Let’s Make Ice Cream!

    Happy Churning!



    perfectscoop.jpg

    Ingredients for American Baking in Paris

    cupcakes

    Although we can’t expect things to be like ‘back home’, many of us do miss certain things and for us bakers, it’s often a challenge to adapt to new ingredients or ones that behave differently than what we’re used to. Here’s a list of commonly used baking ingredients and where you can find them, or what you can use in their place.

    americanbaking paris

    Buttermilk, Heavy Cream, and Sour Cream

    Many grocery stores and cheese shops sell lait ribot, fermented milk from Brittany. Arabic markets also sell fermented milk (lait fermenté) as well. In many recipes you can substitute plain whole milk yogurt or you can milk 1 tablespoon of white or cider vinegar, or lemon juice, with 1 cup (250 ml) of whole milk and let it stand ten minutes.

    For sour cream, full-fat (20%) fromage blanc is the closest substitute for baking. Crème fraîche, which is usually at least 30% fat, can be used as well, but is richer. I also use Bridélice, a low-fat dairy product (called crème légère, or “light cream”), whose 15% fat content is similar to American-style sour cream.

    (A reader mentioned that smetana, a type of sour cream, is available in Eastern European shops.)

    Heavy cream is called crème liquide, crème fluide, or crème entière in French. Both are liquid pouring creams. They are available in supermarkets. (Be aware that entière is full-fat and légère is low-fat, which containers thickeners and will not whip.) The fat percentage of crème entière is usually around 30% whereas American cream is about 36%, although it behaves the same in most applications. (For whipping, get the cream with the highest percentage possible.) Fresh cream is available in supermarkets in the dairy case; be aware that sterlized UHT cream is common in France, which can be challenging to whip, and is refrigerated or unrefrigerated. Some fromageries sell heavy cream, although most offer UHT cream. Beillevaire fromageries carry fresh, raw heavy cream.

    Monoprix carries their own brand of heavy cream in small plastic bottles, and Elle & Vire is one brand that sells UHT cream in paper cartons, as well as crème entière épaisse, which comes in a pouch and is quite thick, but works well in most applications that call for heavy cream.

    sucre vergeoise

    Brown Sugar

    To replace the sticky brown sugar used in American recipes, there are two options. One is sucre vergeoise, which is beet sugar sprayed with caramel-coating (to resemble brown sugar) and sucre cassonade, which is unrefined cane sugar. Both are available in dark and light variations: light (cuivrée) or dark (ambrée), for cassonade.

    Sucre vergeoise is more available, found in supermarkets, although I prefer cassonade, which can be found in supermarkets (most often under the Daddy brand, which they sell online at La Boutique Daddy and you can find other brands at natural food stores, like Naturalia and Biocoop.

    Coarse crystal, free-flowing cassonade is available in most grocery stores as the French use it for coffee and baking, and can be substituted in some recipes, although I prefer the sticky varieties when a recipe calls for light or dark brown sugar.

    You can read more detailed information in my post: French sugars.

    flourbag.jpg

    Flour

    Flour varies from country-to-country. French ‘all-purpose’ flour (type 45 and type 55) is closer to American cake flour: it’s milled very finely and has less-protein and gluten (strength). In most cases, you can’t just substitute French all-purpose flour in American recipes like cookies and cakes. I know too many Americans who opened the oven door and found all their carefully rolled-out chocolate chip cookies, melded into one, giant blob.

    If you’re interested in the precise composition of both flours, you can read about them American vs French flours and French flours. Chow published a French & American flour equivalent chart.

    type65.jpg

    In spite of the listing, I found that organic type 65 flour is the closest, which you can find in natural food stores like Naturalia. You can also buy type 65 organic flour at Monoprix and other supermarkets. It will say on the side of the package.

    Regular whole wheat flour can be found in most groceries stores, as well as in natural food stores. Type 110 is equivalent to regular whole wheat flour, and Type 80 bise is a lighter flour, similar to whole wheat pastry flour.

    molassis.jpg

    Molasses

    You can buy mélasse at natural food stores, but it’s sulphured, unrefined, and very strongly-flavored. When using it in recipes, I cut it with some mild-flavored honey. Otherwise it can overwhelm all other flavors in whatever you’re baking. Unless you like that strong, molasses flavor…then go for it. American-brands of mild, unsulphured molasses, as we know it, is available in stores that cater to the expat community.

    Treacle, available in British stores and markets that carry British foods, is a close substitute, but is similar to blackstrap molasses and quite strong. In a pinch, cut it 50:50 with mild honey, unless you like the strong molasses taste.

    yeast.jpg

    Yeast

    You can ask your local boulanger if they’ll sell you some yeast, or it’s available in supermarkets (not in the refrigerated section, like in America) in packets like the one shown above. You can also buy it in small tins in Arab markets, under the SAF brand.

    Since yeast is a living organism, the yeast in Europe behaves a bit different than American yeast, but I’ve had few problems. You can test yeast by adding a teaspoon to half a cup slightly-warm water; it should start bubbling within a few minutes if it’s still good. You can find a yeast substitution guide at the Red Star yeast website for swapping fresh yeast for dry yeast. Fast-acting yeast in France is available in the baking aisle of some supermarkets called levure rapide or “action express.”

    chocolate & butterscotch chips

    Chocolate Chips

    Finding chocolate chips is regular supermarkets is nearly impossible. In Paris, G. Detou carries them at a reasonable price (although they contain the sugar substitute, maltitol) and expat stores carry them, as well as Le Grand Epicerie. You can simply chop up a bar of chocolate, or buy Callebaut pistoles (as shown in the photo) available at professional baking supply shops, such as G. Detou and Metro.

    Butterscotch, and similar-flavored chips, may be available in shops that cater to the expat community.

    corn syrup

    Corn Syrup

    American corn syrup is expensive, and sold at stores that cater to the expat community. But Asian markets often carry corn syrup cheaply, as it’s used in Korean cooking. Stores in Paris are Ace Mart and Kmart (both are on the rue St. Anne) and Tang Frères (in the 13th.)

    Professional baking supply shops, such as G. Detou in Paris, also sell glucose, which is essentially the same thing. If you need dark corn syrup, add a generous spoonful of molasses to the corn syrup. For more information about corn syrup: When To Use (and Not Use) Corn Syrup, which lists other substitutions.

    yellow cornmeal

    Cornmeal

    Various grades of cornmeal can be found in ethnic markets, mostly catering to the Arabic community. Polenta and cornmeal, such as those that are used for cornbread, can be found in those stores as well as in natural foods stores, labeled farine de maïs which is fine corn flour, or coarser, often called semoule de maïs. In Paris, many of those are clustered around Belleville and near the marche d’Aligre. Natural foods stores sell it as well. The best advice is to go and look because the nomenclature can vary.

    Corn starch is available in supermarkets under the name Maizena. It’s available in natural food stores under the name fécule de maïs or amidon. Potato starch is commonly used in France and works the same as corn starch in most applications. It’s available in Kosher stores.

    French peanut butter

    Peanut Butter

    Peanut butter is available in France and now many supermarkets carry it. American brands, like Skippy, can be expensive. But “natural-style” peanut butter can be found in ethnic stores, especially those that cater to the Indian community. (In Paris, many of those are clustered around La Chapelle, behind the gare du Nord.)

    The peanut butter you find is generally 98% peanuts, with a small amount of vegetable fat added. You can also make your own by roasting raw peanuts in the oven and whizzing them in a food processor, while warm, until smooth. Natural food stores also carry “American-style” peanut butter, which is similar to our natural peanut butter, but not the same as brands like Jif or Skippy, and won’t behave the same way in recipes.

    cocoa in pan

    Cocoa Powder

    Virtually all the cocoa powder in France is Dutch-processed, which means the cocoa powder has been acid-neutralized and is generally darker. It often will not say so on the front label, but may list the alkalizing agent (often potassium carbonate or bromate) as an ingredient.

    Although one should, theoretically, used what the recipe calls for, you can usually do just find swapping out one for the other.

    More information can be found at my post; Cocoa Powder FAQs.

    chocolate

    Chocolate

    When a recipe calls for bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, you can use any of the dark chocolate baking bars found in supermarkets. If you live in Paris, G. Detou sells chocolate in bulk, in bars and pistoles. The membership only Metro stores also carry chocolate (and other supplies) in bulk.

    G. Detou also carries unsweetened (sometimes called ‘bitter’) chocolate in bulk, which in France is called 100% cacao, or 100% pâte de cacao. Some gourmet stores carry it but in general, you won’t find it in supermarkets as the French don’t bake with it like Americans do.

    You can learn more about chocolate varieties and uses at Chocolate FAQs.

    baking soda

    Baking Soda

    Some supermarkets carry baking soda (bicarbonate de soudre) and Indian markets usually carry it as well. It can also be found in pharmacies; you’ll have to ask since they don’t normally keep it on the shelf.

    evaporated milk/lait concentré

    Evaporated Milk and Sweetened Condensed Milk

    Evaporated milk is lait concentré non sucrée (concentrated, unsweetened milk), and is available in most supermarkets. Sweetened condensed milk is well; it’s known as lait concentré sucré, which is sold in cans as well as tubes, like toothpaste.

    Kiri

    Cream Cheese

    Cream cheese can be found in supermarkets under the St. Môret label, or store-brands, labeled pâte à tartiner, in the familiar rectangle shape. Ed discount markets has the best prices if you need a lot. Also cream cheese is available in Jewish grocers in the Marais, and some French people use Kiri squares as cream cheese for making le cheesecake.

    Philadelphia-brand cream cheese has decided to become a bigger presence in France due to its popularity with the French and can now be found at many supermarkets in France at reasonable prices.



    Shops Specializing in Anglo Products in Paris & France

    Here’s a listing of the stores mentioned above, or shops that specialize in products for expats. I’ve noticed that the everyday supermarkets in Paris, such as Franprix and G20 often have sections that sell anglo products at decent prices, and those are worth checking out, too. There are a couple of places that do mail-order and although I haven’t ordered anything from them, if you really need something, they might be worth the extra expense.

    For cake pans, muffin tins, bakeware, and paper cupcake liners (and more), I prowl around ethnic neighborhoods. A favorite is the rue de Belleville in Paris; there are lots of stores scattered along that street, that carry baking items at very low prices. For those who want more professional-quality equipment, check out The cookware shops of Paris. It’s a good idea to measure your oven and baking equipment, especially if you’ve brought items to France from other countries as items like silicone baking mats are sized differently and may not fit.

    Thanksgiving (Paris)

    G. Detou (Paris)

    Naturalia (France)

    My American Market (France & Europe)

    The English Shop

    Biocoop (France and Europe)

    Izraël

    American Market (Switzerland)

    English Shop (Germany)

    Mr. 10% (France)

    British Superstore (England)

    The Real McCoy (Paris)

    Monoprix

    La Grand Epicerie

    Auchan

    E. Leclerc

    Carrefour

    How to Find Foods and Other Items Mentioned on the Site



    More Paris links:

    Paris Restaurant Archives

    Gluten-Free Eating in Paris

    Paris Cooking Classes & Wine Tasting Programs

    10 Delicious Things Not to Miss in Paris

    Tipping in Paris

    Romantic restaurants in Paris

    Accessible Travel in Paris

    Where is the best duck confit in Paris?

    Paris Dining Guides

    Hungry for Paris Guide

    Some Favorite Paris Restaurants

    Vegetarian Dining Tips for Paris and a list of Vegetarian Restaurants

    Where to Find a Great Hamburger in Paris (Kid-friendly)

    Pâtisseries in Paris Guide

    Sunday Dining in Paris