Grocery shopping in a foreign country is ripe with challenges, not the least of which is figuring out which products on the shelves equate to those you’re used to relying on at home.
I’ll be making desserts this week, and I needed two ingredients common to American grocery stores: chocolate chips and vanilla.
Chocolate chips, as made famous by Nestle, do not exist over here – at least not in general grocery stores here in Italy. I was able to find very small packages of chips in England (at exorbitant prices). Instead, I purchased whole chocolate bars with varying amounts of cocoa and will determine which bar is semi-sweet, bittersweet and unsweetened. Chopped chocolate bars = bits.
But vanilla is a different story. Nowhere on the shelves did I find the small bottle of brown syrup we’re so used to buying in the states. Instead, I found three items:
- zucchero al velo : vaniglinato – a powdered sugar flavored with vanilla essence – perfect for sifting onto cakes and cookies
- vanillina – vanilla powder to mix into custards and batter
- vaniglia – a clear liquid vanilla flavor essence that will not discolor baked goods – sold in single-use vials
I’ll try these ingredients in varying combinations to figure out the best equivalent and let you know!