Seaside – Jan/Feb/March 2018
Olympia – Jan/Feb 2018

Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers

Book Cover of Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers.Food writer Debby Maugans has written the book I’ve always dreamed about: Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers.

Most of us love chocolate. However, for those of us who live alone or in smaller households, who needs three dozen chocolate cookies? Maugans’ book solves the problem. Shes created recipes for cookies, cakes, pies, tarts, muffins, and scones for one or two. Brilliant!

The author starts where all good cookbooks start, with the basics: equipment, ingredients, measuring techniques, and storing ingredients to ensure success with small-batch baking. After all, baking is a scientific process and you don’t want to mess up even before you get started. This is particularly important when it comes to baking pan sizes. You’ll be making tiny cakes and tarts. You need the right size. She suggests stocking up on a few essentials like petite loaf pans (two cup capacity), 4 inch tart pans with removable bottoms, and jumbo muffin tins (for mini-pies). Its all Lilliputian, but it all works and its important to your small-batch success.

Then Maugans gets into the nitty gritty of small-batch chocolate baking starting with small, beautiful cakes and cupcakes. She bakes these tiny gems in 14.5 and 15-ounce cans (picture a big tomato can) and then cuts the cakes in half and fills and frosts them. Brilliant again! She offers some delectable classics chocolate cake (my favorite), red velvet, white chocolate, Texas sheet cake, and more. Then she tempts us with truffle tortes and souffle cakes, rolled cake, pound cake, Bundt cake, cupcakes. You get the idea. This author leaves no small cake unturned.

Her next chapter is pies, tarts, and cheesecakes, which she starts with my favorite, Salted Chocolate Caramel Tarts. Oh my, chewy, buttery caramel and rich chocolate ganache in a flaky crust. For me, it was hard to get beyond this recipe and try others, but I forced myself. I was rewarded by my persistence with Turtle Cheesecakes, luscious cream cheese filling swirled with dulce de leche and topped with caramel, all sitting on a brownie crust.

Maugans goes on and on brownie cookies, truffle cookies, peanut chocolate chip blondies and more in the cookie section. Then its chocolate breads muffins, scones, shortcakes, and loaves. And, as if this werent quite enough and we werent already in a chocolate coma, she ends Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers with a chapter on holiday indulgences and one on liquid refreshments. This author has no mercy for those of us seriously in love with chocolate.

I have only one small complaint about this seriously wonderful chocolate cookbook there are not enough photos. We indulge first with our eyes. I know food photos are expensive in cookbooks, but this wonderful cookbook deserves more than the small section (eight pages) of color photos sandwiched in the middle of the book. With or without great photos, Ill be using Debby Maugans’ Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers often. In fact, I think Ill go bake a few of her Triple Treat Macaroons right now! — BH

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Bobbie Hasselbring

RFT founder and the website's former editor-in-chief, Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. She's been an award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook.