Chocolate chips for expats

As ubiquitous as they are in the US, chocolate chips are practically unheard-of in the rest of the world’s supermarkets. Sometimes the clever expat must improvise:

1. Unwrap a bunch of dark chocolate bars (extra bonus step – freeze them first)
2. put them in a ziplock bag and seal it
3. break up the chocolate in the manner of your choosing (drop the bag on the floor several times, take a wooden mallet to it, etc. etc. Be creative!)

This little tip isn’t new… in fact American expats have been making their own chocolate chips using this method for decades, if not centuries. But when a fresh-off-the-boat gal from Florida asked me about chocolate chips the other day, it reminded me that not everyone knows this ancient expat secret.

Here’s a little bonus tip: in place of brown sugar, use white sugar plus a tablespoon or so of molasses. Now go forth and make cookies to dazzle your host countrymen!

Bonus tip #2: don’t even think of using those vanilla-flavored sugar packets sold in Germany as a substitute for vanilla extract. In my experience, real vanilla extract is one of the very few food items still worth smuggling over from the US. Unless you live in Zurich and can buy it at El Maiz, that is. If someone has a source in Munich that isn’t absurdly expensive, please share!

I made these cookies for our Eurovision party tomorrow night. I can hardly wait! I think so far Azerbaijan is my favorite, but I haven’t finished watching part two of the semifinals yet. How can you not love this act?

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14 thoughts on “Chocolate chips for expats

  1. hey – so i just found your blog from reading earthtobella. im an expat in munich too!! so yeah, just wanted to introduce myself before i start blog-stalking you (if thats alright) haha

  2. It’s pretty easy… Melasse! At least that’s what it says on the jar I bought at the Egli Reformhaus in Zurich. And it’s bio!

  3. There’s fluid vanilla extract in sachets by Dr. Oetker and / or Schwartau. Or you could go for the real deal and buy vanilla beans.

  4. I think the Dr. Oetker stuff is vanilla “aroma” rather than extract. I should try making my own from vanilla beans and vodka someday!

  5. I’ve been using some kind of liquid vanilla thing that isn’t extract. It’s been okay so far.

    Can’t wait for Eurovision! I missed the semifinals traveling.

  6. Or you can simply wait for your folks to show up, luggage packed to the gills with chocolate chips and other american goodies for you and your friend.

  7. Oh dear. This whole Eurovision thing is a lot gayer than I ever imagined. It’s gayer than taffeta. It’s gayer than opera. It’s gayer than renovating a Victorian house. It’s gayer than dogs as your substitute children. It’s gayer than a latte macchiato at the local patisserie. It’s gayer than punching chocolate to make your own chocolate chips.’s gayer than punching a chocolate starfish, if you catch my drift.

    It’s so gay, I’m scared. See you there shortly.

  8. Hey jul,
    here’s a link back to the metric recipe I posted for you years ago

    measurements and oven temp are in metric, work-arounds for various problems discussed below.

    Note that I generally have more trouble finding molasses than brown sugar- and Australian molasses is extremely heavy.

  9. Wow! I just found this site from Veggie Chic–so sad you are quitting that project. It was one of my favorite reads! Thanks for the info about this blog. Don’t know how I missed it.

    My husband and I are moving to Berlin on Monday… couldn’t have found this particular post soon enough. Thanks! Please post any other tips you may have for future expats in the next few days–haha ;)

  10. Shane, here the Tokyo Traveler. I decided to some on over and check out your blog again and lo and behold I find this great tip! We have similar issues in Japan surrounding brown sugar and while you can get chocolate chips the are pricey so your tip will save me some moola – yeah!

    Take care and enjoy whatever life throws your way.

  11. Hello! I found you because I’m mailing a care package to someone in Japan, and I was looking around the internet for ideas. Chocolate chips is a GREAT one!

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