CHRISTMAS is just around the corner, and so the fruitcake season is coming soon. Since giving away fruitcakes to family and friends is more of a Western tradition, fruitcakes, in general, have become one of the most recycled Christmas gifts in the Philippines. Fruitcakes often just change hands — and wrappers! — since those who receive one often just remove the gift-wrapping paper, package it differently, then give it away to someone else.
But wait until you taste the fruitcakes of Ju.D Lao. They’re so good that you’d never even want to share them with anyone else, much less give them away to someone else. Especially if you realize that they have a very long shelf life. But then again, I doubt if there will even be any left to test just how long their shelf life can be.
Ju.D Lao’s fruitcakes, recognized as the best with a Product Quality Excellence Award and given the National Award for the Best Fruitcake Manufacturer in the Philippines, have been formulated to cater to the Filipino palate to make them delightful to eat. After all, she herself had an “unpleasant” experience with Western fruitcakes when she was young. As a child, she often visited her godmother, Emma Cua Locsin, in Iloilo, and her godmother often shared with her fruitcakes sent from the United States. These were full of spices, strange liquors and very sweet glazed fruits. While it was an honor for Ju.D to partake of these fruitcakes with her godmother, it was also like an act of bravery on her part because she did not really find them delightful.
Her attitude towards fruitcakes changed in the summer of 1975, when she traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, and got introduced to a different kind of fruitcake. After a delicious five-course meal in a restaurant, she was served a plate of Fruitcake a la Mode for dessert and it was, for her, the best fruitcake she has ever had in her entire life. It was a slice of moist cake, packed with wine-cured slices of orange, cherries, raisins and walnuts that melt in the mouth as the warmth of brandy reached all the way to her soul. She enjoyed it so much and it left such a huge impact on Ju.D that when she got back to Manila, she began experimenting with different fruitcake recipes. She kept at it for months until she hit the right formula that not only pleased her but also earned the nod of family and friends. Christmastime of 1975, she started selling her first batch of Ju.D Fruitcakes.
The original recipe of that two-pound loaf of fruitcake has remained unchanged for decades now, and her Classic Fruitcake (Php950) — which brings together golden morsels made with molasses, honey and brandies, packed with chewy bits of candied fruit and nuts, all baked into a delectable two-pound loaf — remains as her best-seller.
In the 1980s. Ju.D introduced fruitcake cookies called Chewy Chewkies (Php300 per box of 12), which the children of her regular customers loved because they tasted like fruitcakes without the brandy. In the 1990s, Ju.D worked on different flavors of fruitcakes and came up with the rest of her fruitcake line: Ju.D Gold (Php1,000, dubbed the Champagne of Fruitcakes, as it is made with honey and brown sugar, has a light taste and dense, chewy texture, and is a gorgeous combination of Canadian red cranberry and golden apricot, with a hint of mild candied ginger and a blend of light rum, brandy and white wine); Ju.D Blue (Php1,000, a dark fruitcake, prepared with molasses and Blue Mountain Coffee from Australia, with a rich coffee flavor, is dense with glazed fruits and nuts, all soaked in Kahlua coffee liquor for an extra strong flavor); and Ju.D Coffee Prune Fruitcake (Php950, contains the least amount of fruit and very minimal nuts but lures you in with an exotic Blue Mountain Coffee cake, aged with brandy and Kahlua coffee liquor and packed with chunks of juicy prunes).
Ju.D Pastries and Confectionery now also offers mini versions of Ju.D’s fruitcakes called Ju.D Mini Fruitcakes (Php850 per box of 8 pieces, made up of 2 pieces of each flavor). Also on the order list are a range of Ju.D’s Cookie Petites (Php200 per 180-gram box), which come in Dark Chocolate Gingerbread, Food for the Gods, Ichigo San, Almond Chocolate Chips, New York Peppermint and Classic Chocolate Chips flavors.
Two other interesting items — Ju.D No Eggs Apricot/Cran Cookies (Php300 per box of 12), and Ju.D’s Premium Nougat (Php280 per 180-gram box of mixed Cranberry-Almond, Espresso, Hawaiian, and Cookies & Cream flavors) — are also on the order list.
(For orders, call 633-1188 or 633-0260, for pick-up at Greenmeadows, Quezon City.)