FRENCH MACARONS…AAA CLUB-BING’S “BAKING WITH CHEF BUDDY TRINIDAD”
by Ana de Villa – Singson
Who doesn’t love a macaron?… those meringue confections cradling infinite selections of fillings: caramel, salted caramel, chocolate, berries, gianduja, buttercream, raspberry, espresso, even savory ones with black and white truffles…their colors are as pretty and as expressive as only small bites of heaven can be!
Yes, I have a sweet tooth. And I once lined up for 40 minutes to buy my favorite Pierre Hermes macarons and finished my entire box of rainbow-colored yummies in a quarter of that time. So when Jenny Silayan (co-Trustee in AAA and one of the strong supporters of AAA Cooking & Baking Club) told me that Chef Buddy Trinidad (of Park Avenue Desserts fame!) was offering to teach us how to bake macarons for our last AAA Baking session, I was in 7th heaven and floating on Cloud 9!
On the day of our baking session, Chef Buddy arrived before Jenny and me. He was in the ANI kitchen in Henry Sy Building, Assumption College at 8:30 a.m. The consummate baker, he wanted to test the ovens before the actual class. Macarons, those little puffs of meringue, can be very sensitive to heat and circulating air (in convection ovens). Not wanting to err, Chef Buddy tested each and every oven in Ani and selected 2 of them for the actual class.
When I introduced Chef Buddy to the class, audible gasps of incredulity could be heard. His credentials are golden! He was the 2019 Ambassadeur du Pain certified in Nantes , France. He is the President and co-founder of the Pastry Alliance of the Philippines which advocates for continuing education of local bakers. He has sat as Judge and Juror in international baking tilts in France, Italy, Singapore, Thailand, Maldives, Hong Kong plus many many more. In 2015, his own Philippine Team won the World Junior Pastry Championship in Sigep, Italy in the highly acclaimed Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie. He has been pastry chef at Hard Rock Cafe and Michaels. His education in patisserie took him to France, Singapore, Florida, Los Angeles. He even baked for 5 US Presidents: George Bush Sr and George Jr, Clinton, Obama and Raegan. And if that’s not star-studded enough, he created dessert conctions served up in the uber glamorous Vanity Fair parties after the Oscars awarding ceremonies in the US. And those are just the highlights of his CV!
In no time at all, Chef Buddy was teaching us to whip up the meringues… giving master baker tips. The tip I found most interesting was the “Flying V” (from the age old cartoon, Voltes 5!). When the batter is perfectly whipped, you know its time to stop whipping when you lift your spatula and the batter shapes a perfect V and breaks off from the bottom of the V! If the batter breaks of from the top, more whipping is required. Another tip was about whipping the egg whites at a lower speed then accelerating towards higher speed rather than starting at high speed outright. The veteran teacher, Chef even drew the structure of bubbles created while whipping egg whites. His illustrations clearly showed that whipping egg whites by starting from low speed and ending with higher speed created smaller, more densely packed and more stable bubbles. He taught us also that we had to refrigerate the macarons for at least 72 hours before consumption, allowing the filling to seep through the crispy meringue shells for added flavor and enhanced biting pleasure.
Chef allowed us to taste, taste and taste galore! Equipped with spoons, we were allowed to taste as much of the buttercream, chocolate and salted caramel fillings as we wanted. Amused at how much we were tasting, he then allowed us to create our own concoctions, mixing fillings and sandwiching them between the meringue pillows. They were so yummy that we even scooped out the rejects, those meringue shells which looked pretty good to us but didn’t pass Chef’s high standards, and slathered them with fillings anyway! My favorite mixture was half and half of buttercream and salted caramel, drizzled with some chocolate. Soooo good! To raise the bar even more, Chef Buddy sprinkled smoked Maldon salt on the caramel filling; we were all floating on a sugar high by then! And to take the macarons to a truly luxe level, he demonstrated gilting the macarons with gold dust using….a make-up brush for blush-on! Multi-purposing galore! (though his brush was never dipped into cosmetics…it was used purely for baking!)
We left with bags of macarons! I tried very hard to wait for 72 hours hours before eating mine…but my resolve crumbled after just 5 hours. And the taste….magic!
I tried making my own macarons, but foolishly forgot to add the egg whites! What meringue has no egg whites! So until I get it perfectly right, I am hying off to Park Avenue Desserts to get my macaron fill!
We’re posting some video highlights of our cooking session and some photos too! Enjoy!