When boredom strikes, I find an effort to beat it by checking out lists of new and interesting things to do. Last week, I decided to finally take up a baking class, which has been on my “to-try list” for some time. And suddenly, in absolute perfect timing, I was invited to try out the six-hour macaron making class at Nikko’s Baking Studio (9AM-3PM).
Bossman Spanky called it “The Bloggers’ Bake-off,” and the challenge was to make Lemon French Macarons. OMG! I love French macarons and so I was happy and excited to learn the recipe and techniques in a hands-on environment led by Chef Nikko Buendia herself. 🙂
Chef Nikko, me, and the finished products ♥
Nikko’s Baking Studio is a culinary school, café, and bakery packed into one. Whether you’re looking for a quaint bake shop where you can grab delicious treats for your upcoming corporate event, baby shower, or wedding, or attend baking classes to learn how to make those treats, this lifestyle baking studio along Paseo de Roxas in Urdaneta Village, Makati City (across Mandarin Oriental, One Roxas Triangle, near cor. Buendia) can meet your needs.
Review of Nikko’s Baking Studio’s Macaron Making Class (Paseo de Roxas, Makati City)
Before the class started last Saturday, Chef Nikko told a rich story of how she started with baking. She showed us around and walked us through a typical day in her thriving business.
From the quick tour, I observed that the café area of Nikko’s Baking Studio resembles what you would expect from a tasteful bakeshop. With goodies displayed at the coffee bar, artsy paintings on the wall, and wooden furniture both placed inside and outside at the patio, this place has a cozy vibe and the most fitted environment to have a good time.
Separated from the café only by a wall, the baking studio on the other side contains the four stations equipped with baking machines, racks, utensils, books, and other baking materials. It’s a conducive space for interacting with classmates in a professional teaching kitchen. Participants of up to eight (8) in one session can work side by side with one another, with two people paired in one station.
Nikko’s Baking Studio encompasses snacks and desserts such as cakes, tortes, pies, and cookies. Among all the delicious treats it offers, the Kahlua Mocha Cake or the “Pope’s Cake” must be the most popular now, as it was one of the four cakes that flew with Pope Francis when he left Manila last January 2015. Since then, Nikko’s Baking Studio has been receiving numerous orders of the same cake with slightly different decorations.
We were lucky to have the chance to taste this famous cake! 🙂 Oozing with decadence of Kahlua (a coffee-flavored rum-based liqueur), the Kahlua Mocha Cake was indeed calories worthy, with layers of moist and fluffy chiffon and sweet filling on the inside. It had just the right level of sweetness to please our palate without any satiation.
sample: decorated Kahlua Mocha Cake for a customer
Another indulging treat we tried was this plain-looking Pineapple Streusel Pie, which surely deserves a lot more recognition. Eating a slice truly made all the difference from just looking at it. The pie had a medley of textures including real pineapple chunks with each delightful bite. Yummy!
Next, we also tasted the four flavors of French macarons offered: vanilla, lemon, peanut butter, and pistachio. Maracons have a reputation of being beautiful and delectable, and these small cookies are also known for being incredibly temperamental and finicky to make.
The point of this exercise was not only to fill our stomachs and get energized before the class, but it was also to create reference points or benchmarks so we would know what the acceptable quality criteria are for macarons. 🙂 Nikko’s Baking Studio’s macarons were visually impressive and very good with light and chewy texture.
The Class: ★★★★★
Adorned in uniform aprons, we gathered around the counter in the middle of the room and read the baking instructions. In order to get a headstart, one of the chefs in the baking studio had managed to measure out the pre-prepared ingredients according to weight. If only all ingredients would be conveniently placed like that magically and with precision at home, I suppose that setup would be any baker’s heaven. 😉
Chef Nikko first performed all the steps and explained the procedures in detail, while we watch her do it then replicate later. She assured us that macarons are easy and simple to do. Everything indeed looked so manageable, from folding of ingredients to make the plain almond meringue shell, piping the mixtures onto the trays, drying them, and baking the macaron shell in the oven, to mixing the ingredients to make the lemon curd, piping a mound of curd onto each shell, and covering each filled shell with another shell.
When it was time for us to make the precious dainties, Marge, my partner, and I carefully followed the instructions on the handout and recalled how Chef Nikko did the steps. When unsure, it was best to ask for guidance. The chef helped us in a friendly manner and without hesitation.
Thanks to her patience and our team effort, we succeeded. Even if some macarons did not come out as perfectly shaped (some cracked, some a little burned, and some discolored), they were still delicious. Every piece exuded a very perky little personality on its own. The most gratifying part was seeing the shells rise in the oven and develop feet. 🙂
Here are some tips that Chef Nikko gave the class to make a perfect macaron:
- Weigh all ingredients using a digital scale to ensure consistent results.
- Sift the ingredients multiple times if necessary. Dry ingredients should have a powdery texture with no lumps.
- Print a template with drawings of circles spaced at least a half inch apart to keep the macarons in consistent size and shape. Place this printed sheet under the parchment paper before piping the macaron mixture.
- After piping, bang the baking sheet firmly on the counter to release any trapped air.
- Dry the piped macarons for 30 minutes before baking. The drying process is complete when the macarons no longer stick to your finger when touched. The macaron surface should appear with a matte finish.
- When baking, make sure to know your oven and check the best duration to bake and not only depend on what the recipe states.
Attending Chef Nikko’s baking class made me realize that having the first-hand experience is really far from just watching like an audience of a show. Aside from learning how to make the lemon French macarons, I also appreciated the company we shared. The baking studio burst with life and laughter, with funny jokes and comments by the chefs and my classmates (Irene Co of Indulgence by Irene, Camille and Faye of The Soshal Network, and Marge of Coffeehan). There wasn’t a dull moment with these guys!
I look forward to learning and trying other recipes, take the time to make things the homemade way, and in the process have fun doing it. I hope this post encourages you to give macarons a shot, whether you’re a complete beginner like me or a frustrated baker. 😛
Schedules of Nikko’s Baking Studio’s baking classes are announced monthly on their Facebook page, so please check back regularly. The following is the list of schedules for this month of Feb 2015. I think both kids and adults can join. Contact Nikko’s Baking Studio to book your spot.