Sunday, January 19, 2014

Croissant Class Confessional

I've always had a love of baking. I used to make weekly banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, and a fabulous pumpkin bread recipe my mother got from her neighbor, Peggy Chang. In summer, along with my decked out, red white and blue patriotic home decor, I make low-fat blueberry muffins. I can make a mean egg less chocolate cake, and a cream cheese pound cake that starts in a cold oven,  requires tending to every 20 minutes bringing up the heat, in timed increments, until it's done. Outside of that, I have little skill.

My boyfriend and I decided to take a croissant baking class at Chocolate Ciel, a baking studio that recently opened in Cedar Grove (just minutes from Montclair). The owner, Colleen Klabin, is a pastry chef who trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York City.

We begin with a recipe & instruction packet, a rolling pin, and dough.

We arrived ten minutes late because, try as I might, I have no concept of time. Walking in quietly (as the class had already begun), Klabin came to us to catch us up to speed. We learned how to make dough, roll it out, envelope the butter, then fold it into layers to create the flaky goodness that makes a croissant. Music played softly in the background. We were all new to croissant making; some came out of a love of baking, others (like me) with a desire to learn new techniques.

Jeff Burrowes gave his girlfriend, Sandy Morales, this croissant making class for her
birthday, which happened to be on the exact same day that the class was held.
Klabin taught to our level and spoke in a way that helped us understand what we were and why, explained where room for error was allowed (rolling it out too big or imperfectly), and what techniques required being precise.

My boyfriend rolled out his dough perfectly. Mine was so
poorly shaped that I chose not to photograph it :)
Measuring and marking where to cut for a perfect
croissant, his execution was unmatchable.

She provided an instruction booklet, complete with drawings and the croissant recipe. Additionally, we got to make a second batch of dough to take home with us. I learned that you should roll/knead the dough with just one hand, to get it into a ball quicker, but that I can also do it with my KitchenAid mixer. Guess who's making more croissants today?

Here, Dave Oscar puts egg wash on the croissants while his wife,
Diane Esty, watches intently as Klabin roll chocolate into croissants.

Chocolate Ciel does have specific classes for children, and also offers Mommy and Me classes, but mature children are welcome to take these sorts of baking classes. 

Dana Oscar, 9, attended class with her parents. She has a love of baking that
her mother, Diane, said "she gets from her father."

While the croissants were baking, we were treated to cheese and nuts. We snacked and talked, and got to know the other people in the class. The mood was relaxed and inviting. We each left with a box full of croissants that we'd baked, freshly made dough to continue our baking at home, and the recipe so that we could do it again.

One of the many croissants that I made yesterday.
This morning, for breakfast, I had one of yesterday's croissants. Absolute heaven. And knowing that I made it myself is that much better.

Chocolate Ciel's instructor and owner, Colleen Klabin.
Chocolate Ciel is located at 9 Sand Park Road in Cedar Grove. Class listings and other information can be found on their website Be sure to check them out on facebook, as well.

Tiffany Palisi is the owner of Domestic Goddess Ltd., a company that specializes in hand poured, scented candles. On the side, she searches for products/recipes/ideas/shops that she loves, then shares them with her friends on this blog. She resides in New Jersey with her boyfriend, their four children and two rescued dogs. She can be reached at 

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1 comment:

  1. Looks like SOOOOO much fun, too bad hubby's not into it. :)