31 January 2010

Maple Syrup and My Sister's Ginger Snaps

En français ici.
One of the most frustrating thing about being an expatriate (for me anyway, am I alone?) is not finding the ingredients I'm used to in the grocery store. Not that there aren't lots of wonderful new ingredients to explore (like more kinds of cheese than I ever imagined and the wonder of lardons and crème fraîche), but it takes some adapting. In three years, I've gotten down most of my conversions and substitutions : levure chimique instead of baking powder, crème fraîche with a bit of lemon instead of sour cream, poitrine fumée instead of bacon, found places to get some important ingredients (like brown sugar), and given up others as too hard to find or too expensive (cranberries, molasses, maple syrup).

Speaking of maple syrup, I have to allow myself a short digression to brag about the Carrefour maple syrup I found at only 4 euros a bottle! Have I mentioned I love Carrefour? Often their store brand products are very decent quality for a very affordable price. (In the interest of honesty, I have to say that I have no affiliation with Carrefour except for my store card, but if they want to pay me for the good press, I will not say no!) I made some pancakes this morning to test it out and I have to say, it may not have been the most flavorful maple syrup I've ever had, but it was definitely 100% maple syrup. The only suspicious detail was the picture on the bottle of... a city? Er, what city is that? (Canadian bloggers, any ideas?) And most importantly, why? Does this syrup come from the elusive urban sugar maple? Wouldn't a picture of a leaf have been more logical? But I digress... again.

Anyhow, my sister (not Future Master Baker, oh dear, I have food genes all over my family) sent me some delicious ginger snaps for Christmas (and the recipe because she loves me), and they were large and soft and chewy and a bit spicy, in sum, perfect. But I feared that the recipe might not be France-friendly. I had a moment of discouragement when I saw "molasses" on the list of ingredients, but of course I like a good challenge as well as the next cook, and I decided that substituting some brown sugar for white and honey for molasses would probably do the trick. And it did. In fact it was so yummy that I might make them that way all the time. I'll let you decide...

Ginger Snaps

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves (I used allspice)
a good pinch of salt

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar (or 3/4 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup dark brown sugar)
1 egg
1 Tbsp water
1/4 cup molasses (or honey)

more sugar for rolling cookies in

Preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC. Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt, and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar(s) with a mixer or a fork, until they are light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, water and molasses (/honey). Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, stirring as you go. Shape the dough into small balls (about the size of a walnut) and roll in the extra sugar.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, flatten slightly, and bake 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool 5 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to a cooking rack (or to your mouth...or is that just me?).

Thanks sis!


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I have no problem finding molasses, maple syrup and cranberries (fresh or dried) here... Those cookies look delicious!



Cicero Sings said...

I do love ginger snaps and those look pretty darn yummy. I could use one now!

As for that label on the maple syrup ... I have never seen one like that! As for the city, I couldn't tell which one it was from the little picture. We don't have the right maple trees out west here so it must be from the east. Out west we have birch trees and people are making a syrup from that now but it takes a lot more sap to make the finished product.

When I spent some time in Africa, we made brown sugar by mixing in some molasses in white sugar.

Hopie said...

Rosa - I can find most of those ingredients here but they cost an arm and a leg! Oh well, I get to be creative.

Cicero - Wow birch syrup sounds interesting. Does it taste a lot different? Now I want to try some of that and I'll have to come to western canada ;-)

Anonymous said...

I love Carrefour, too! I'm glad to see they're starting to put more of those Carrefour "Markets" within the city.

I used to have a good place to get 4 euro molasses, but they jacked up the price to 6.75! I gave the shopkeeper a good engueuling.

Sam said...

I remember going to Carrefour when I was in France last year, unfortunately I missed the bargain maple syrup though.

The cookies sound great, I love soft and chewy cookies!

Psychgrad said...

It's kind of funny that they chose a picture of boring high-rises to represent Canada. I would have opted for a maple tree... I can't tell what city that is -- could be anywhere.

Interestingly, 4 euros is probably cheaper than what it costs to buy maple syrup here. No fair!

Ivy said...

At last I found and bought maple syrup in Greece but it is a one-time buy as 7 Euros for 185ml is a lot of money. Cranberries are also very expensive. Your sister's ginger snaps sound delicious and I might make them. The amount of ginger mentioned is it in powdered form or is it fresh ginger?

Tony said...

I don't think I could live without maple syrup. Although with the invasion of the Asian Longhorned Beetle that's been attacking maple trees throughout MA, I may have to do so eventually :P

Hopie said...

Camille - Yay Carrefour Markets! I think Carrefour bought all of the Champions in Paris...maybe in general, I don't know.

Sam - I agree on soft and chewy cookies. You'll have to try out the bargain maple syrup next time you're in France!

Psychgrad - I know! 4 euros is cheaper than real maple syrup in the US too! I'm telling you, it's those urban maple trees.

Ivy - Yea cranberries are expensive here too! The ginger is ground ginger in powder form!

Tony - Nooooo! Save the Maples!!!