Amid a pandemic, here’s how a dash of inspiration and plenty of sugar lead to the birth of Batch Cookies.
It seems like everybody is baking their way through lockdowns. From banana bread to sourdough starters, the internet has been awash with people whisking, beating and kneading as we try to flatten the curve.
Aislinn, from Dublin, is no different. To pass the time during the first lockdown in Ireland, Aislinn started baking ooey-gooey cookies. Then, one day, she made too many (we’d like to point out that we think there is no such thing as too many cookies) and she gave some away to her neighbours. And from this generous, neighbourly act, Batch Cookies was born.
We caught up with Aislinn to hear all about her accidental cookie business and how it is all going for her so far.
So, Aislinn, tell us a bit more about these surplus cookies.
Batch Cookies was born in quarantine and was initially an accident! Back in March, I decided to bake cookies for myself, my sister and my cousin because we were all feeling quite down about the pandemic. I accidentally made too many so decided to post it on my own Instagram, offering the cookies to people in my area. I got over 50 private messages from people saying they wanted to try them, which blew my mind.
And so, the idea for Batch Cookies was born.
Yes! When I gave away the cookies, I asked for honest feedback. Once I got it, I tweaked the recipe over a few weeks until it was perfect. Did another few rounds of testing and launched the Instagram page. Back then, I considered it a hobby and something to distract me from the doom and gloom of lockdown. I decided to myself I would keep it going until interest faded, but it never did. Six months later, the page has nearly 5,000 followers and Batch Cookies are stocked in five prominent Dublin cafes. We sell out weekly for deliveries.
Sounds like things are going really well for Batch Cookies.
It’s going really well! It is tough at times and there is so much more than you think there would be involved in running a business but I absolutely love every minute of it.
Any major challenges, so far?
Thankfully there has been no major malfunctions! The early mornings can be rough but aside from that, the rest is manageable.
Hat’s off to you, setting up in the middle of a pandemic was gutsy.
It was a risk to start a business during a pandemic for sure! To be honest, it motivates me more – I work best under pressure so it’s an environment I am comfortable in. I have two brilliant staff members and extremely encouraging and supportive family and friends too, which I am very grateful for.
I know you are only up and running eight months now, but has Batch Cookies evolved much since then?
It has grown substantially since April. I had a pinch-me moment when I overheard two young lads talking about them being ‘the best cookies ever’ in town one day. Another time a friend of a friend told me “oh my god, you need to order these cookies” which was funny. It’s also been featured by several prominent publications and we often get well known Irish personalities ordering them, which is always a bit surreal seeing how far it has travelled.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to start up their own food business in Ireland?
Just do it! If you have a solid idea and product, the rest can be learnt. You will learn so much about yourself and your capabilities. It’s only overwhelming when you think too much about the future – taking it day by day is the key.
Can you let us in on the secret to your success?
I think it’s an equal balance of hard work and your mentality. It is by no means an easy job, days can be long and tiring but in the end what gets you through is the faith you have in yourself, your team and your ideas.
So, let’s chat a bit more about your delicious cookies.
Where do you get your creative inspiration for your cookies?
I have always been a creative person and was luckily encouraged to explore this side of myself from a very young age. My mother and grandmothers were excellent bakers who experimented regularly in the kitchen, so being experimental with baking was second nature. I love the chocolate and nut relationship in baking. I wanted a soft sweetness offset with a crunchy, earthy taste. The result was the “classic” walnut and milk chocolate chip – which balances sweet and savoury, effortlessly.
In terms of the brand look and feel, I chose colours that represented Batch’s ingredients. There are four symbols incorporated in the design – walnut; cookie dough; chocolate and a love heart.
What makes Batch Cookies unique?
The best way to describe a Batch cookie is a hug in a baked good. It leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy. While traditional Irish cookies are flat, Batch are uniquely chunky, more like a scone or a cake than a cookie.
Filled with Belgian milk chocolate chunks, the walnut adds a crunchy texture which, combined with our soft creamy dough, makes batch cookies gooey and soft in the middle and crunchy and crumbly on the outside. We use only the best ingredients and each cookie is made by hand.
Speaking of ingredients, how do you choose your suppliers?
I choose suppliers whose brand I respect and admire. I’m conscious that whoever I partner with is essentially representing Batch, so chose businesses that have the same ethos and values and who are as enthusiastic and excited about Batch as we are!
Which is your favourite type of cookie?
I love big chunky cookies, our walnut and milk chocolate chip cookie is my favourite.
Tell us about your favourite part of what you do and why?
My favourite part is definitely seeing the look of excitement on peoples faces when they get a delivery of Batch Cookies. I’m a massive advocate of looking after your mental health, so to be able to give people even the tiniest relief from life’s trials is without a doubt the best part of the job for me.
The aim with Batch from the very beginning was to bring a moment of comfort to people during a trying time, and this hasn’t changed. We’re living in scary times and there is no better way to connect with people right now than through food. I love how Batch has brought people together – most people send them as gifts to loved ones so it’s lovely to see the smile on people’s faces when they get them.
What does the future hold for Batch Cookies?
We have big plans and are working hard to make them a reality. You’ll have to wait and see what’s in store, but it won’t disappoint!
And the question that most people want to know the answer to, where can we get our hands on some of your delicious cookies?
Batch Cookies are currently available Friday – Sunday in Honey Honey, Happy Out, Strand Fare and Bear Market, Blackrock. They can also be pre-ordered on our the Batch Cookie website batchcookies.ie for delivery and collection.
See our Instagram for most up to date information.