Posts Tagged ‘shortbread’

Delectably edible baseballs and gloves

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Jules Catering celebrates Red Sox Opening Day at Fenway

As always when exploring Jules Catering’s kitchen, we felt a powerful pull toward the bakery, where, on the eve of the Red Sox 2014 home opener, something really special was going on: Shortbread cookies baked and shaped and decorated as baseball balls and gloves were being artfully arranged and packaged by Jules’ Assistant Pastry Chef, Wilmar Aristizabal.¬†

Raise your glove if you love Red Sox Home Opener shortbread cookies from Jules!

Raise your glove if you love Red Sox Opening Day shortbread cookies from Jules!

Cookies were everywhere, so we asked the obvious: How many?

“One-thousand-five-hundred.” Wilmar didn’t bat an eye.

Jules' resident "Cookie Monster" Wilmar Aristizabal offers a few of the 1,500 cookies he baked for the Red Sox home opener

Wilmar sent us home with a sampling of the 1,500 cookies he baked for Opening Day at Fenway

A simple recipe, a massive achievement

“It’s very basic,” Wilmar continued. “For the dough, just three ingredients.”¬†

Classic Scottish shortbread cookies as prepared by Jules features only high-quality sweet butter, powdered sugar, and flour

Top-quality unsalted butter + powdered sugar + flour = classic Scottish shortbread cookies from Jules

“Ginger or citrus or even savory flavorings, like cheddar, are called for in some shortbread recipes, but for Opening Day, we go the traditional route.”

Fresh, creamery butter is essential

Premium creamery butter is essential

“Something else we do is use confectioners’ sugar in the dough, rather than the granulated sugar featured in some recipes” Wilmar explained. “We do this because we believe the powdered sugar yields a more delicate and crumbly texture. Then, before we bake, we sprinkle granulated sugar on top.”

Wilmar blends the flour and powdered sugar before mixing both into the softened butter

Wilmar blends the flour and powdered sugar before mixing both into the softened butter

“Of course, simple as the recipe is, ‘stitching’ the seams on 1,500 balls and gloves¬†does¬†take time.”

We could only imagine.

These baseball gloves are NOT tough as leather

These baseball gloves are NOT tough as leather

 

Beneath the stitches is delectable crumbly shortbread coated with egg-white and powdered-sugar icing

Beneath the stitches crumbly shortbread is coated with egg-white and powdered-sugar icing

What quantities are involved in a recipe for so many cookies?

Large¬†quantities!” Wilmar reached for a calculator. “In total,¬†this 1,500-cookie batch required more than 56 lbs of butter, 71 lbs of flour, and 15 lbs of powdered sugar. But because I prepare only 200 cookies at a time, it’s manageable. I don’t break my back.”¬†

So if 269 Cookie Monsters were to occupy each of the 269 seats atop Fenway’s “Green Monster,” you could feed–?

“From this batch of shortbread, we could offer about 5-1/2 cookies apiece!”

Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” is poised for Opening Day

Why “short” and why “bread”?

A jazz musician we knew used the term “short bread” to characterize low-paying gigs, but we wondered about the culinary meaning of the word. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the short in shortbread refers to “butter or other fat used in baking‚Ķ ‘shorten’ in the sense of ‘make crumbly’‚Ķor ‘easily crumbled.'”¬†And the bread¬†in the name¬†was used by early Scottish bakers who fought to classify shortbread biscuits (ie, cookies) as a “bread,” in order to avoid paying a government tax placed on biscuits.

A Scottish creation that dates back to the 12th century and popular ever since throughout the United Kingdom, shortbread is said to have been refined and popularized by Mary Queen of Scots, who, at age 44, was beheaded for treason for allegedly plotting the execution of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.

We wonder whether Mary Queen of Scots, found guilty of plotting the assassination of Queen Elizabeth I, dined on shortbread for her last meal

We wonder whether Mary Queen of Scots dined on shortbread for her last meal

Queen Mary’s favorite shortbread was cut into triangular “Petticoat Tails,” so named because the triangle wedges cut from the circle of dough were the same shape as the pieces of fabric used to make an Elizabethan petticoat, and the name for a pattern back then was ‘tally.’ Queen Mary’s preferred ‘petticote tallis‘ was flavored with¬†caraway¬†seeds.

Other fascinating facts about shortbread:

  • Because shortbread ingredients were expensive, this treat was often reserved for special occasions, notably¬†Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year‚Äôs Eve.
  • The Scottish custom of eating shortbread on New Year‚Äôs Eve arose out of an ancient pagan ritual.
  • In Shetland, a decorated shortbread was traditionally broken over a bride‚Äôs head before she entered her new home.
  • In the UK, January 6 is National Shortbread Day.
  • Southerners in the US traditionally used brown sugar when preparing the dough; in Kentucky, shortbread cut into squares or wedges and topped with strawberries and cream is known as “Derby Cake.”
Using Jules' classic shortbread recipe we shaped and cut Mary-Queen-of-Scots-style "Petticoat Tails"

Using Jules’ classic shortbread recipe we shaped and cut Mary-Queen-of-Scots-style “Petticoat Tails”

Shortbread cookies are not just for Red Sox Opening Day

Jules’ Director of Business Development, Jenny Willig, popped down into the kitchen to give us a little backstory on “the themed cookies Jules prepares for summer ice-cream socials, winter holiday events, and any number of other ‘show-appreciation-for-the-guests’ -type occasions Jules caters throughout the year.”¬†

Jenny Willig, standing with a package the Jules sales team assembled as part of the bid process for today’s Opening Day event, says, “Pitching and ‘catching’ Jules’ food and service is a win-win for all involved.”

Jules’ Traditional Shortbread Recipe (Serves 8)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature)

1. Whisk the flour and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, beat the butter with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

2.¬†Using your hands, press the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured counter and knead until it is smooth. Press the round of dough on top of a piece of parchment paper and, with a rolling pin, roll out until about ¬Ĺ-inch thick. Define a circle by cutting around the circumference of a pie or dinner plate.

3. Transfer the parchment paper with rolled-out circle of dough to a baking sheet. Crimp the edges, then poke the dough all over with a fork and sprinkle evenly with granulated sugar. Score the circle of dough into 16 wedges. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 20 minutes. (Overnight also works.)

4. Adjust an oven rack to the top third of the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake the shortbread until pale golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes.

5. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and, while the shortbread is still warm, use a sharp knife to cut through the scored marks and separate the wedge-shaped Petticoat Tails. Let cool and serve.

We love the way these cookies crumble

We love the way these cookies crumble (again, quality butter and powdered sugar are key)

World champ cookies, a championship team

Whether they win or lose, Jules loves the Red Sox. 

Grateful fans gather in the shadows of the Green Monster, November 2, 2013

Grateful fans gather in the shadows of the Green Monster, November 2, 2013

 

"Did I hear 'World Champion Cookies'?!"

“Did someone say ‘World Champ Cookies’?!” (Boston’s ace was all ears)

The best Sox are the Red Sox

Three days ago at the White House, Barack Obama (a Chicagoan and a White Sox fan), wished David Ortiz and other members of the Red Sox good luck this season. “May the best Sox win,” he smiled.

Big Papi snaps a 'selfie' with the President, who invited the Red Sox to the White House April 1

Big Papi tweets a ‘selfie’ with the President, April 1

“Shortnin’ Bread”–Music to munch by

Finally, because there’s very little we enjoy more than sampling shortbread while tapping our toes to great music, here’s Mississippi John Hurt playing and singing “Shortnin’ Bread.”

Interestingly, the shortnin’ bread lauded in this song may actually have¬†been¬†bread–ie, a quick bread made with shortening–rather than the shortbread cookies featured in this post. But that’s a topic for another time!

Image Credits:
Green Monster Fenway Park, Bernard Gagnon: Wikimedia Commons
Mary Stuart Queen of Scots, Francois Clouet: Wikimedia Commons
Big Papi Tweets Selfie with the President: David Ortiz, Twitter
All other photos: Liz Muir 

 

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Cookie love

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

The King of Hearts

We stopped by Jules Catering’s busy kitchen one morning just before Valentine’s Day to pay tribute to ‘Wilmar, King of Hearts’ (more commonly known as ‘Assistant Pastry Chef Wilmar Aristizabal),¬†who has been with Jules for¬†11 years.¬†It was a heart-warming scene!

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†‘Heart Art’ requires a sense of fun and a steady hand

When we expressed astonishment at the hundreds of hearts that surrounded him and marveled at his expertise in ‘cookie cardiology,’ Wilmar shrugged, modestly observing that cookie preparation in February is “nothing¬†compared to the thousands and¬†thousands¬†of cookies Jules bakes and decorates in December.” Surveying the Valentine scene,¬†we found this hard to believe….

Valentine shortbread hearts

Chocolate shortbread hearts were just some of the funny Valentines Jules offered this year

Isn’t it romantic?

Our heart stood still at the sight and scent of cookie dough being rolled, cut, baked, and adorned.

Chocolate shortbread cookie dough

Rolls of shortbread cookie dough on floured surfaces await their fate (i.e., to be pressed and cut!)


Chocolate shortbread hearts await decoration

A while later, unadorned chocolate shortbread hearts cool on parchment paper

Other Valentine cookies prepared by Jules this year included plain shortbread hearts, as well as jam-filled hearts dusted with powdered sugar.

Shortbread cookies with raspberry jam

Plain shortbread hearts are spread with jam and sandwiched together, with a cut-out heart on top

Still other offerings included almond, coconut, and French egg-white macaroons–in purple and pink!

Valentine macaroon sandwich cookies

This year  Jules offered three flavors of macaroon sandwich cookies in both purple and pink

Not just for holidays

As Wilmar wrapped a plate of assorted cookies for us to take away and “share the love,” he reminded us that Jules Catering offers a mind-boggling array of cookies and dessert bars–every day of the year.

Unbaked chocolate chip cookie

Chocolate chip cookie ready to be baked at an off-site catering job–this cookie was served warm!

Some client favorites include:

Cookies
Chocolate Chip
Mocha Chip
Oatmeal Raisin
M&M

Dessert Bars
Brownie
Lemon
Blondie
Congo
Fig
Raspberry
Lemon, Strawberry-Rhubarb, and Apricot Crumble Bars

Tea Cookie Assortments
Coconut Macaroons
Assorted Biscotti (Plain and Chocolate Dipped)
Assorted Shortbread (Plain and Chocolate Dipped)
Madeleines
Almond Macaroons

Jules offers Whoopie Pies, too!
 
 
Anita Baglaneas and Jules Catering team off-site catering

Assistant Pastry Chef Wilmar Aristisabal and Chef-Owner Anita Baglaneas and other members of the Jules team with cookies baked on the spot at an off-site catering job

Photo Credits: Liz Muir

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