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Expat Substitutions, France


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If you can get your hands on cream of tartar at some point, you could try buying enough for a few years at a time bc it won't go bad if kept in an airtight container away from heat.

Can you find dry milk powder easily? If you can't find sweetened condensed milk, consider making your own? I haven't tried this recipe:

http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/sweetenedcondensedmilk.htm

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I think Neufchatel is pretty much the same as cream cheese. But if you don't have to have the "New York style" weighs-a-ton cheesecake, you could always find a recipe for Ricotta or Mascarpone cheesecake. I tend to like those better myself, anyway, as I can actually finish a slice without feeling ill.

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Brown sugar : you can use cassonade (beige or brune depending the molasse content).

Baking Powder : poudre à lever, levure chimique ou levure alsacienne. Its all the same and is sold in small envelopes.

Sweetened Condensed Milk : lait concentré sucré (NESTLE).

Cream Cheese : philadephia, Saint-Moret ou Samos 99.

If you need more help ... I am from Belgium :wink:

Alain

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  • 3 weeks later...
Thanks for all the advice.  Most of it is really good.  Just one thing--Cassonade doesn't come close to the brown sugar I'm after.  Cassonade is raw cane sugar, and it has the texture of regular sugar and tastes completely different.  American brown sugar packs like wet sand and tastes oh so good...

If you're looking for the taste and texture of brown sugar, try the sugar + molasses trick. I used to eyeball it and add a bit of warm water while stirring. For a sharp molasses-y flavor, you really don't need that much, unless you're making gingersnaps. :wink:

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I'm living in Limoges, France at the moment and while I have historically concentrated my cooking efforts on meats and sauces, have decided I ought to try baking a few American classics.  The problem is that almost every recipe calls for something I don't have.  Unlike when I lived in Aix-en-Provence, I haven't found any import stores with American food items here so I'll have to make do with what the French offer me.

Sorry I'm coming so late to this topic. Here are my equivalences (at the risk of repeating what others have posted here. The French and Belgian terminology can be different so a little caution is necessary.)

One thing to always bear in mind in France is that some stuff that you won't find in ordinary shops you might be able to locate in the health food store distribution network, i.e. "magasins bio". They are a much overlooked solution to some food mysteries.

--Brown Sugar.

Does not exist in mainstream shops: there is only sucre roux or cassonade, which are basically the same thing: crystallized light brown cane sugar. You will also find soft brown sugar (vergeoise) which is from beets, and according to the caramel coloring it has received can be light (vergeoise blonde) or dark (vergeoise brune).

So where do you find brown sugar? As usual, in the magasins bio. Look for the diverse range of brown cane sugars available, you'll certainly find your stuff. Crystallized light brown sugar, soft light brown sugar... Soft dark brown cane sugar will be called "muscovado", granulated raw cane juice will be called "rapadura", and in some places you may find Demerara sugar.

You'll certainly find Demerara sugar, muscovado and other unrefined sugar products at La Grande Epicerie or Lafayette Gourmet in Paris, or at an épicerie fine where you live.

--Baking Powder. "Levure chimique" or "levure alsacienne" is baking powder and that is the only type you'll find. "Poudre à lever", which is the same thing, it a term only used in the professional milieu and you won't go far if you use that term in your local store. You can now find sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in stores, previously you could only buy it from a pharmacy. In some pharmacies (not many) you'll find cream of tartar. A good place to find cream of tartar is the Indian and Srilankan shops in Paris, north of the gare du Nord, but this may be a little far from where you live. However in provincial cities there are large shops selling foreign and exotic products, generally gathering stuff of all origins for the immigrants of many nations that live there. You should find those shops and search carefully. They sell things that other shops don't.

--Sweetened Condensed Milk Yes, lait concentré sucré. That one is easy.

Cream Cheese By all means, don't buy Neuchâtel, which in France is a totally different thing than in the US. Neuchâtel is a traditional Norman cheese that has a white soft crust like camembert and is very salty. The equivalents of cream cheese are, as has been posted above, Saint-Môret (which is a bit too sour), Philadelphia (when you can find it), Samos 99 (excellent quality), and Kiri, which is what professionals use when they can't find Philadelphia. You could also use fresh Brillat-Savarin.

Cherry pie filling Take the opportunity to make your own: stone your cherries, drain them in a colander for about 20 minutes, then quickly mix them with sugar and a little flour, cornstarch or even cream of wheat (semoule de blé fine) before adding them to the pie. Do not forget a little salt on the cherries. That will be far better than anything canned.

Edited by Ptipois (log)
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