Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Makes Six Cookies

I love baking because it's creative, constructive and delicious.  But unless you're baking for a special occasion or event, you and your housemates will find yourselves in one of two scenarios: either eating more  bars/pieces/slices than any one person ever should, or eating a normal amount of bars/pieces/slices over several days and tossing the stale leftovers in the bin.  Actually there is a third scenario, "all of the above", which is where I was a couple of weeks ago when I fancied making a Boston cream pie.  Over the first two days, I ate at least five double-layered, custard-filled, chocolate-ganache covered slices.  Guilty of being a glutton.  As the cake slowly started to harden and dry out in the fridge, my enthusiasm for eating cake also hardened and dried out, and on Day Five the remaining two shrivelled slices were written off.  Guilty of wasting food.

So last weekend, when I was craving a fresh, homemade chocolatey treat, I had to think of a way to avoid all this guilt but still feel satisfied.  What I needed was a recipe for one, like that scene in Bridesmaids when Kristen Wiig's character makes a single cupcake, but less time-consuming and lonely.

I decided to use the easiest recipe I knew and scale it down: George Brown's basic shortbread cookies.  The formula was simple: 100% pastry flour, 67% softened unsalted butter, 33% icing sugar, plus a bit of salt.  Using my trusty kitchen scale and a calculator, I creamed 50g of butter together with 25g of icing sugar, and mixed in 60g of flour,15g cocoa powder (to make it chocolatey), and a pinch of salt.  I let the crumbly mixture chill in the fridge for 20 minutes in plastic wrap, then rolled and cut it into roughly 6 equal pieces.  Fifteen minutes in a 350F oven, and I had myself a short stack of chocolate shortbread cookies for a sweet afternoon snack.

I later learned that this style of baking is known as "small batch baking" and has quite a following.  Recipes for five chocolate chip cookies or two frosted cupcakes are out there and available for home bakers like me, who seek immediate gratification but lack self-restraint.

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