Beemster Makes Desserts Sing
Chef Julie Cogley didn’t plan for a career as a pastry chef. As a kid in rural Pennsylvania, she dreamed of being “a ballerina or an astronaut,” Cogley remembers. But as she grew up, she spent more and more time experimenting with baking Betty Crocker cake mixes and watching Yan Can Cook and Julia Child. “It looked like so much fun,” she thought about the alchemy happening on her TV. So Cogley made a leap—she moved to Pittsburgh and enrolled in culinary school, where she studied pastry.
Cogley stayed in Pittsburgh for eight years, where she worked in bakeries and breakfast places baking cookies, brownies, and cakes. “I didn’t have access to fine dining,” Cogley says. “There was not a whole lot going on in the culinary world in that city during that time. It was a meat and potatoes kind of town.”
So when Cogley moved to San Francisco and landed a job as a pastry prep cook, she experienced a whole new culinary world. “There was yuzu curd, crumbles, and all these products I had never been exposed to before,” explains Cogley. “I grew more and more curious about flavors, textures, and techniques.” Cogley worked her way onto the line during service at night, where her enthusiasm and skills continued to grow.
She loved digging into a world of pastry beyond cookies and brownies, and combining unexpected ingredients on a plate to create a dish where the sum was greater than its parts. It was in San Francisco that Cogley was first exposed to artisanal cheeses from around the world. At first she was put off: “They smell like feet, they’re moldy,” she remembers thinking, “and then I tried Beemster and fell head over heels in love. It was creamy and delicious. I never had anything like it. It was my catalyst for working with cheese more, for falling for cheese.”
When Cogley got an opportunity to move to Portland, Oregon, she took it. Now she presides over the pastry program at the acclaimed JackRabbit in the The Duniway Hotel. Like many restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, Cogley and her team at JackRabbit care deeply about sourcing quality ingredients from farmers and producers they know. Beemster is a natural fit. Cogley says of Beemster, “Everything from the super rich soil to the passion about what they’re doing comes through in the final product.”
As for her dishes at JackRabbit, Cogley loves to lend an unexpected twist to familiar classics. She pairs Beemster XO with warm sticky fig cake. In fact, Beemster makes three appearances in this dish—Beemster cream gets smeared on the bottom of the plate, a Beemster crumble is sprinkled on top, and the whole thing is finished with fresh shaved Beemster on top. “The salty, cheesy aspect shines through and helps cut the sweetness,” Cogley explains.
“I love to play with crystallization—one of my favorite things is finding those crunchy crystal pockets in the cheese,” Cogley says. “Dark toffee and Beemster make a great pairing.”
“I want to create things that people love with an edge or a twist that might inspire them to try something new,” Cogley points out. Beemster helps her bridge the gap between the familiar and the unexpected.