Recipe: American Chocolate Chip Cookies in Germany

Last week when I told you that we avoid American foods, I realized it wasn’t totally true.  We have one very big weakness that, if not careful, could easily become our entire sustenance for multiple days.  It’s gooey.  It’s chocolaty.  It’s crunchy.  We don’t buy it, so it is a wonderfully affordable American luxury that we love to whip up ourselves.

I mix the ingredients, and Martin monitors the oven like the guards in front of the Jewish temple we biked to on my birthday.  He also sacrifices himself as our taste tester like all good husbands.  So if you haven’t guessed (because it’s not like it’s obvious in the title or anything), we’re drooling over a batch of old fashion chocolate chip cookies coming out of the oven.  They’re the perfect escape from feeling like our house is a giant construction zone.  The mere thought of them makes me want to jump up and run to the grocery store for cheap chocolate bars so that I can cut them up and pretend they are chocolate chips from back home.

The sad thing is that no one around us seems to appreciate this spectacular culinary treat.  Martin has been taking my baked goods with him to work since we started dating (it was the only way to keep us from devouring everything).  He always came home with an empty container, usually by lunch time.  He would take American treats, Czech cakes, German cookies… his coworkers ate ‘em up.

Not this time.  Not in Germany.

The Day my cookies were rejected

Martin got off of his bike after work and slowly said, â€œThe good news is that there’s more for us.”

I wrinkled my eyes.  It’s what I do when I get confused.  “What are you talking about?” I asked.

He looked at me with the same expression my brother had the day he broke my mom’s china ten years ago.  Then Martin looked away.  He pulled the plastic container we’d filled with cookies out of his bag.  It wasn’t empty like I was used to; it was full.  There were only two cookies missing.

Martin mumbled, “Someone brought Berliners.”

Berliners are little jelly doughnuts covered in sugar.  They’re okay.  But you can’t compete with a dessert named after the city where you live.  Even with chocolate chip cookies.

It’s a very weird feeling to have your cookies rejected.  I got my recipe from The New York Times for goodness sake.  I imported vanilla extract in my suitcase, and I altered about five ingredients to match what I could find in Germany.  Let me just tell you that they are the most delicious chocolate chip cookies we’ve ever had.  I almost had to take Martin to the emergency room the first time we had them – his heart was pulsing wildly over his new love.

The problem is that the United States isn’t exactly a country known for our culinary ability.  The food we’ve introduced to the world is cheap and instant like McDonalds and Rice-A-Roni.  They’re not very good.  So when some coworker like Martin shows up with a sample of his American wife’s culinary skills – hard brown pancake thingies full of chocolate crumbs and whacked up hunks, I guess I’d go for the boring old doughnut, too.  Looks can be deceiving.

Meanwhile, we are going to eat all of the cookies those poor German men missed out on.  And if you’re looking for an American classic that is phenomenal, I feel like I’ve dug myself in a hole with my story… but I SWEAR they’re good.  I PROMISE you’ll love them, too.  The two men at Martin’s office that tried them did lick their fingers when they were done, after all.  Yeah, yeah, they probably ate Berliners next… but that’s just a cultural detail.

Here’s how I altered the original recipe on The New York Times Food Section for all you fancy people with access to soft and squishy brown sugar and other American staples:

American Chocolate Chip Cookies

3 2/3 cups minus 2 Tbsp. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt (like kosher)
2 1/2 sticks (10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 bag of chocolate chips or more/less as desired

Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together.  In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Pour in vanilla and add the eggs.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients.  Add chocolate chips.

Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.  Spend those hours guarding your husband from the fridge because you know he and a little spoon are going to be stopping by on multiple occasions.

When you’re ready to bake whatever dough is still left, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Make scoops of dough approximately 1/3 c big and spread evenly across a cookie sheet covered with baking paper.  Bake until golden brown but still soft, around 15-18 minutes.  Pull cookies from the oven and slide the baking paper onto a wire rack to cool for ten minutes.

And here’s my German rendition with my American measuring cups and scale for all you wild and crazy people out there roughing it in the Old World with us:

American Chocolate Chip Cookies in Germany

3 2/3 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (17 oz.) Type 550 flour
2 1/2 tsp. Baken Pulver
1 tsp. salt
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) butter, softened
2 ¼ cups (18 oz.) granulated sugar
3 Tbsp. molasses
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or that vanilla sweeter in little bottles (do NOT use Vanille Zucker)
1 1/2 – 2 bars of chocolate cut into small pieces

Mix the flour, salt, and Baken Pulver together.  In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy.  Pour in the sacred vanilla and add the eggs.  Reduce the speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients.  Add chocolate chips.

Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.  Spend those hours guarding your husband from the fridge because you know he and a little spoon are going to be stopping by on multiple occasions.

When you’re ready to bake whatever dough is still left, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F).  Make scoops of dough approximately 1/3 c big and spread evenly across a cookie sheet covered with baking paper.  Bake until golden brown but still soft, around 15-18 minutes.  Pull cookies from the oven and slide the baking paper onto a wire rack to cool for ten minutes.

The cool thing about these cookies is that they’re best fresh.  You can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 72 hours and bake little batches whenever you want.  This strategy is extra great for us.  We’ve decided not to give the neighbors a cookie peace offering because of all our remodeling noise.  I was thinking about it before, but now I’m certain they’d dislike us even more.  You think people would be afraid of heights or the Loch Ness Monster or something, not cookies.  I’m sort of glad they aren’t, though.  I have ten giant cookies in front of me that I thought I’d never see again.

loch-ness

(Image by Katie for Making This Home)