Social Distancing Journals: Mr. Calisto

The world looks very different today from when spring break started at the end of February. Instead of students returning to campus this week, faculty and staff are working to develop online curricula in the face of this rapidly changing global pandemic. Everyone is also adapting to this new normal of staying home and social distancing to help stop the spread of Covid-19.  We asked a number of our faculty for their recommendations on what they are reading, watching, and doing to pass the time, and we will be sharing these over our spring term of distance learning. 

Initially we are sharing a recipe from Mr. Calisto, art department head and head House parent in St. Hughs House. Our Third-Form boys, who have been lucky enough to have Mr. Calisto as a House parent, know that he is not only talented in art but is also a superb baker who can appear with some of the most amazing sweet treats from his very small apartment kitchen.  Kevin shares one of his favorite comfort-food recipes below. 

"Super easy, comfort recipe. Adapted from The NY Times. I love making these for the dorm or for my class. The best part is they can be made ahead and frozen - made with simple ingredients from your pantry.  It’ll be hard to eat just one. Also great with ice cream. Enjoy!" 

Salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons/255 grams total salted butter (2¼ sticks), cold (room temperature if you're using a handheld mixer), cut into ½-inch pieces (see note)

½ cup/100 grams granulated sugar 

¼ cup/55 grams light brown sugar 

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

2 ½ cups/325 grams all-purpose flour (see Tip)

6 ounces/170 grams semi-sweet or bittersweet dark chocolate, chopped (not too fine; you want chunks, not little shards)

1 large egg, beaten 

Demerara sugar, for rolling 

Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling 

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars and vanilla on medium-high till it’s super light and fluffy (3 to 5 minutes for a stand mixer; 6 to 8 for a hand mixer). Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, slowly add the flour, followed by the chocolate chunks, and mix just to blend. If necessary, knead the dough with your hands to make sure the flour is totally incorporated. At this point, the dough should be smooth and feel like Play-Doh with no pockets of flour.

Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic over so that it covers the dough to protect your hands from getting all sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a log shape; rolling it on the counter will help you smooth it out, but don’t worry about getting it totally perfect. (Don't be afraid to make them compact. Shortbread is supposed to be dense. That's part of why it's so good.) You can also do this using parchment paper, if you prefer, but plastic wrap is easier when it comes to shaping the log. Each half should form a 6-inch log, 2 to 2¼ inches in diameter. Chill until totally firm, about 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the outside of the logs with the beaten egg and roll them in the demerara sugar (this is for those really delicious, crisp edges).

Using a serrated knife, carefully slice each log into ½-inch-thick rounds (if you hit a chocolate chunk, slowly saw back and forth through the chocolate). If the cookies break or fall apart, just press them back together — the dough is very forgiving. Place them on the prepared baking sheets about 1 inch apart (they won’t spread much). Sprinkle with flaky salt. Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating them all."