A couple of weeks ago, we returned from the south of France, tan, refreshed and a little bit more knowledgeable about this country’s incredibly rich and long history. During our trip, I was always on the lookout for something delectable to bring back and share with my office mates. While passing through Ollioules, which is a small town in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of France, we stumbled upon the annual Olive Tree festival there. Vendors were selling local and regional specialties, including an endless array of tapenades, charcuterie and sweets. It was there that I discovered le macaron de Provence.
These macarons differ from les macarons de Paris, which are the variety that most folks are familiar with (think Pierre Hermé and Ladurée), in that they do not look as refined and glossy. You can see an example of them here. Even though the more popular Parisian macaron looks prettier, I actually prefer the more rustic versions from Provence. They’re slightly denser and have a little bit more height than the other variety, so biting into them is more satisfying.
You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with chocolate chip cookies. Well, I had bought a box of macarons de Provence from a vendor at the Olive Tree festival to bring to work. But sadly, they got crushed in transit. The poor macarons were not in any sort of presentable form for sharing, so I ate the whole box myself.
After inhaling the box of crumbs and broken macarons, I had nothing left to bring to the office. I thought to myself, “no problem, I’ll just make some.” However, my husband, who is a beast in the kitchen (he makes my lunches and I always get ooohhhs and aaahhhs from my office mates), has tried to make these cookies, but has failed three times already! Not feeling so confident about my ability to produce any better results after my husband’s unsuccessful attempts, I opted instead to make a surefire American favorite, chocolate chip cookies.
After a quick search on the net for a recipe with positive reviews, I settled upon this one. I only made a few changes to the recipe, including reducing the amount of butter, chocolate, and sugar. In France, chocolate chips are ridiculously expensive, so I cut up some unsweetened dark chocolate. Instead of 2 cups of chocolate, I only added a cup and a half, but even that seemed like a little too much. As for the sugar, if I recall correctly, I reduced the amount of white sugar by half. I think that my coworkers liked the cookies, given that they disappeared pretty quickly!