If you, like me, are someone who loves to bake but does not have numerous children or an office of coworkers to fob everything off upon, then you know what it is to have a few dozen cookies or a fully frosted layer cake that you are incapable of finishing in a timely manner. Yes, there are freezers, but they, like stomachs and ambition, have their limits.
Hence the appeal of Small Batch Bakes. The newly published fifth cookbook from Edd Kimber, who won the first series of The Great British Bake-Off, it contains recipes designed to feed one to six people. There’s a single large “emergency” chocolate chip cookie, two (four-inch) tarte tatins, strawberries-and-cream eclairs for four, a six-inch chocolate layer cake with dulce de leche buttercream that’s meant to serve six.
Baking, as Kimber notes in the book’s introduction, is often thought of as something that’s done for large gatherings or special occasions. But as Small Batch Bakes clearly understands, sometimes the special occasion is just getting through the damn day and you want a couple of cookies to commemorate the achievement. Or you’re looking for a date-night dessert. Or you don’t want to reenact that Sex and the City episode where Miranda trashes almost an entire chocolate cake, only to sneak bites of it from the garbage can.
It should be noted that Kimber is hardly the first to build a baking book around this concept. But reading his book, I was still struck by its relative novelty: Given that 37 million adults live alone in the U.S., not to mention the isolation of the past two-plus years, you would think that cookbook publishers would be eager to take advantage of a largely untapped market. I hope they do: a world in which there are more recipes for brownies for one and banana pudding for two is a better world, obviously.
In the meantime, I will continue to feel grateful for Small Batch Bakes, and for its chocolate peanut butter cookies recipe in particular. It makes six, contains a mere five ingredients (aside from salt), and the hardest thing about it is waiting 30 minutes for the flourless dough to chill before you stick it in the oven. Dipped into melted chocolate after baking, the cookies are primally satisfying, a big, beautiful one-two punch of sweet and salty, and a chewy case study in the therapeutic benefits of baking. Small batch, big pay off.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe
175 grams (6 ounces /¾ cup + 2 teaspoons) light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt
225 grams (8 ounces/¾ cup + 2 tablespoons) smooth peanut butter, at room temperature
Sea salt flakes, for sprinkling
100 grams (3½ ounces) dark chocolate, melted
Step 1: Place the sugar and egg in a large bowl and whisk together briefly until combined. Add the vanilla and salt and again whisk briefly to combine. Now add the peanut butter and whisk until a thick but smooth dough is formed. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Step 2: Line a baking tray (cookie sheet) with parchment paper. Using a 60 ml (2¼ fluid ounce/¼ cup) mechanical ice-cream scoop or your hands, place 6 scoops or balls of cookie dough on the prepared tray, spacing them well apart. Transfer to the freezer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC Fan) 350ºF, Gas Mark 4. Sprinkle the chilled cookies with sea salt flakes and bake for 20–22 minutes, or until the cookies have spread a little and the edges are lightly browned. Set aside to cool completely.
Step 3: To serve, dip the cookies halfway into the melted chocolate and then place back on the lined tray. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set. If stored in a sealed container, these cookies will keep for 4–5 days.
Excerpted from Small Batch Bakes: Baking Cakes, Cookies, Bars and Buns for One to Six People by Edd Kimber. Copyright © 2022 by Edd Kimber. Used with permission of the publisher, Kyle Books. All rights reserved.