Date: November 2, 2021 | Story: Stephanie Maxwell Newton | Photography: Rett Peek | Styling: Steph Smith |
One Bowl, Big Taste: Baker Kelli Marks’s first cookbook promises to delight your palate, one bowl of ingredients at a time
In Little Rock, the name Kelli Marks is synonymous with sweets. That’s why it’s hard to believe a love of baking was something Kelli didn’t discover until her 20s, when she provided the cake for her grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary. “I’d never done a ton of baking, but I thought it’d be so fun if their granddaughter made the cake for the party,” Kelli recalls. “This being 2001, I had to buy a book and sit down and teach myself how to do it.” By the time the party rolled around, she presented the couple with a four-tier vanilla cake—and she was hooked.
With a background in literature and art, Kelli found this new hobby stretched her creative muscles in a way that was familiar yet fresh. She started taking on clients here and there—mostly creating cookies and cakes for special events—while also working an office job in advertising. Over the years she’s ventured into several professional baking endeavors, including opening her own bakery, partnering with local restaurateurs as a pastry chef, creating wedding cakes, and working in marketing for a sweets-focused start-up company. “Any opportunity that came about, I was open to,” she says. “I look at it as collecting experiences.”
Earlier this year, another such opportunity presented itself. While Kelli had dreamed of writing her own cookbook for some time, she was surprised to be approached by a publisher with a specific concept in mind: a collection of recipes all requiring no more than a single bowl for prep. “My husband will tell you, I can destroy a kitchen so fast with dishes while baking,” Kelli laughs. “I definitely welcomed the challenge.”
Easy One-Bowl Baking: No-Fuss Recipes for Sweet and Savory Baked Goods was officially released in September and features 60 recipes, including breads, muffins, cookies, pies, cakes, and cobblers, to name a few. Each is meant to be approachable enough for those new to the kitchen; Kelli even starts off with a chapter entirely devoted to baking essentials for beginners. However, the five dozen recipes are anything but basic. “I tried to keep some fairly classic, easy stuff that people might expect, but I wanted to play a bit so it would feel more inventive,” she says.
The Craft of Cookies
The recipes for Kelli’s Raspberry-Pistachio Thumbprints (above) and Russian Tea Cakes (below) can be found in Easy One-Bowl Baking. You can also learn from the pro in person: Kelli leads a cookie swap baking class on November 18 as part of Pulaski Technical College’s Community Education Program. Visit uaptc.edu for information.
Hazelnut Sandy Sandwich Cookies
Yields 6 dozen sandwich cookies
In addition to the ingredients below, this recipe calls for a piping bag and a 2D round piping tip. If no piping bag is available, you may substitute a zip-top plastic bag.
1 heaping cup hazelnuts
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chocolate hazelnut spread
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place hazelnuts on one of the baking sheets and bake for 10 minutes. Wrap warm hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub off as much skin as possible. Reduce oven temperature to 300ºF. Let sheet pan cool completely.
Transfer hazelnuts to a 10-cup food processor (or use a hand mixer) and pulse until there are no visible lumps. Add butter, powdered sugar, flour, cocoa, and salt, then pulse to combine. Dough will be very wet and slightly chunky. Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a 2D or comparable round piping tip. Pipe the dough into 1-inch discs on the baking sheets (they can be close together). Each baking sheet should fit around 70 cookies. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cookies are firm and dry. Let cool completely.
Once cooled, put hazelnut spread in a piping bag (no tip needed, just a small hole). Squeeze a dollop onto one cookie and top with a second to create cookie sandwiches.
Easy One-Bowl Baking is available at Wordsworth Books in Little Rock and online wherever books are sold.