I first met Marion Bernardo when I bought one of her Expand-A-Bags at a bazaar back in 2004. I liked the bags so much that I gave several away to friends that year and wore mine to pieces.
In 2006, Marion attended my Tea Party which she described in a subsequent email: “Thank you so much [for the Tea Party] you organized and hosted. It really changed my life. Somehow, it triggered something inside me, leading me to where I am right now.” ”˜Right now’ is Marion’s shift from bags to her self-named baking business.
I’m intrigued that the event had such an effect on her so I ask her to expound on the “dramatic” shift. “It [was] the simple idea of home bakers, some of whom are simply baking enthusiasts earning by working from the house. I was so inspired by the wonderful and delicious desserts we were able to try and even take home, that I was so encouraged to learn to bake after that [the Tea Party].”
Marion admits to “few baking memories,” — indeed, she only started baking in May of 2006 — but ever since she’s gotten her hands “into the batter,” so to speak, she tells me that she’s “… discovered a new side of me who loves baking and experimenting.” She’s complemented that with her recent completion of a 96-hour baking course at the Culinary Institute of Aristocrat (along Roxas Blvd.)
Her burgeoning business centers on muffins, cupcakes, and bars, but cookies are Marion’s core, evidenced by the half-bitten cookie she’s decided to make her label. Among the cookies she offers, I like her Chocolate Chip Cookies ”“ the Double Chocolate (p145/20pcs.) and the Semi-Sweet with Macadamia Nuts (P210/12pcs.) ”“ as well as her Cream Cheese Cookies (P150/13pcs). I’m particularly harsh when judging cookies because I believe they’re one thing that’s really best straight from the oven into my open, eager mouth. With a few exceptions, most home-baker cookies I’ve tried are dry and crumbly. The chocolate chip cookies I mention above are soft and retain a satisfying moistness with the pleasing, unmistakable addition of Ghirardelli chocolate chips. (Please note that not all of Marion’s chocolate chip cookies use this brand).
My favorite among Marion’s cookies are her Cream Cheese Cookies. Cream cheese anoints cookies with its off-white hue, but more than that, it lends a tenderness and bite very different from those made with (just) butter. Unlike other cream cheese cookies I’ve tried, the ones that Marion bakes are unblemished in their appearance, and possess a crumb that simultaneously manages to be feathery and compact. Quite addicting these cookies, yes.
Cupcakes are practically de rigeur in any home baker’s repertoire these days, and Marian suffices with her Yellow Cupcakes with Raspberry and Philly Cream Cheese filling (P270/12 pcs.) Though the filling is sufficiently moist and tasty, these cupcakes need that finishing touch, so I give Marion a few frosting suggestions to adorn the cakes’ naked tops. I also get to try the Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Icing (p255/dozen) but the flavor as well as the consistency of the frosting needs tweaking.
I would never have imagined that throwing a dessert party would inspire a paradigm shift in someone who’d never baked before. Thus, it gives me great pleasure and pride to write this article about Marion. I hope that others who harbor a desire to bake will be inspired as well. You never know where it will take you.
See website for product list and contact details.
Note: It’s anticlimactic I know, but Marion is out of the country until June 16. Orders will be fulfilled after that date.