Will these pastries pass inspection? Find out in the chef's first-ever MasterClass.

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Credit: MasterClass

Last week, chef Thomas Keller debuted his latest MasterClass series, covering meat dishes, stocks, and sauces, and now pastry king Dominique Ansel is lending his baking expertise to the online course database. The Cronut creator's first-ever MasterClass teaches essential techniques for classic French pastries and sweets, like madeleines, chocolate mousse cake, and croissants (more on those in a minute).

“Food is a necessity, but pastry and dessert is always a choice. Pastry, to me, has a very emotional connection with people, and teaching the fundamentals of pastry is a combination of both science and art,” Ansel said in a statement. “This class is not just a typical class, it will open your mind to think of food and pastry differently.” He has a point. After watching the chef give a rundown of what makes the perfect, flaky croissant (above), it'll be hard to eat one without his checklist echoing in your brain. The main points?

  • Check the outside! The separation of a croissant's layers should be clearly visible.
  • A croissant shouldn't be too dense. When you pick it up, it should feel light and fluffy.
  • When you cut through a croissant, you should hear a crunch (but only use a serrated knife—you don't want to crush those flaky layers).
  • Sniff that croissant before biting into it You should be able to pick up on some butter and yeast. It shouldn't smell too acidic.
  • The inside of a croissant should be full of air pockets, like a honeycomb.
  • "When you eat a croissant, you cannot hide the evidence," Ansel says. "It's like murdering a croissant. There's flakes all over."

Like all MasterClass courses, Ansel's is available for $90, or alongside every other MasterClass with the purchase of a $180 all-access pass. Which means you'll also be able to check out Alice Waters' tutorials on how to use spices and herbs, Gordon Ramsay's knife skills demos, and Wolfgang Puck's pan-searing primers. Or, if you want to wait a couple of days, MasterClass is running a promotion from Friday, November 23 through Tuesday, November 27, where, if you buy one all-access pass, you receive a second one free to give as a gift.