Professional Pastry Arts: California

From pâte à choux to spun sugar, tarts to three-tiered wedding cakes, International Culinary Center’s highly respected Pastry Arts program builds on fundamental techniques taught from day one, reinforcing the basics as you advance through three levels of learning. Organized into 16 units, you layer skill atop skill as you build your confidence and competency throughout the program.

High-Caliber, Fast-Track Learning

Under the watchful eyes of the accomplished chef-instructors at ICC’s Northern California campus, you’ll learn the techniques for a wide span of pastries and desserts and be poised for a prolific career in the pastry arts in just six months of full-time study (nine months part-time in the evening) via our signature Total ImmersionSM training method.

Gain True Expertise

A well-rounded pastry chef must have command over the chemistry of chocolate, know how to stretch and pull hot sugar into delicate designs, be able to proficiently achieve the perfect rise and crumb in a génoise for a light and moist cake, and so much more. Working with precision, understanding baking science and flavor principles, as well as exercising your culinary imagination, are just some of the important abilities your chef-instructors will help you cultivate. You’ll also gain the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification.

How You’ll Learn

Professional Pastry Arts combines both hands-on instruction and theory into one immersive program. Each class begins with a short lesson that covers important terminology, related food history, the hows and whys of various cooking techniques and the key procedures you’ll employ to complete the day’s items. Before you make anything for the first time, your chef-instructors will demonstrate the proper methods, and they’re always on hand to encourage and help you as you practice on your own.

Graduate at Carnegie Hall

After you finish all six levels, you receive your Grand Diplôme, a credential that is respected and recognized by the top establishments around the globe! The annual commencement ceremony takes place at NYC’s iconic landmark, Carnegie Hall. There, parents, friends and teachers as well as alumni will mark your achievement as they cheer on your class: the next generation of talents.

Find out about our legendary deans, small class size and alumni network here.

See information about college creditfinancial aid and scholarships.

Tuition Includes

Application fee
Tool kit
Books and supplies

Applicable fees are not included.


course information
5/9/2014-10/29/2014 9:30am-2:30pm 6 months M-F $29,900
6/23/2014-4/15/2015 6:00pm-11:00pm 9 months MWF $34,900
8/5/2014-1/29/2015 9:00am-2:30pm 6 months M-F $34,900
10/29/2014-4/27/2015 9:00am-2:30pm 6 months M-F $34,900
  • Unit 1

  • Unit 2

  • Unit 3

  • Units 4 + 6

  • Units 5 + 8

  • Unit 7

  • Units 10 + 15

  • Units 9 + 12

  • Units 11 + 13

  • Unit 14

  • Unit 16

Tarts and Cookies: Learn the three primary French tart doughs, along with a variety of sweet and savory fillings, revisited later in the program as components in more complex desserts. You’ll begin to develop valuable knife skills as you prep for an assortment of tarts. And, you’ll also bake each of the basic types of cookies learning the fundamentals for rolling out an even and round circle of dough and working with a piping bag.

Building Blocks You’ll Learn

  • Pâte Brisée
  • Pâte Sucrée
  • Pâte Sable
  • Drop, Piped and Rolled Cookies
  • Fruit Compotes
  • Ganache
  • Pastry Creams
  • Almond Cream

The Items You Will Make Include:

  • Tarte aux Pommes
  • Caramel-nut Tart
  • Tarte au Ganache Chocolat
  • Viennese Canilla Crescents
  • Gingersnaps
  • Bourbon-Pecan Cookies

Learn the Basics

  • Measuring and Precision: Vital components for the successful execution of any pastry recipe. You’ll learn the difference between liquid and dry measures.
  • Tools of the Trade: Learn how to properly scale ingredients and how to handle the tools commonly used by pastry chefs. Learn knife skills while developing speed and efficiency as you cut fruit, cut cold butter into flour and whisk cream.
  • The Art of the Tender Crust: You will learn how to make tender crusts for all types of tarts with three classic French pastry doughs: pâte brisée, pâte sucrée and pâte sable, observing how flour, fat, sugar and liquid impact the quality of your final product.
  • Fillings to Create More Complex Desserts: Various fillings—almond cream, pastry cream, ganache, meringue, fruit compotes—are essential components in making not just tarts, but a full range of desserts, such as éclairs, Danishes, almond croissants, cakes and plated desserts.

Pâte à Choux: Pâte à choux, or choux paste, is a unique dough used to make such pastries as éclairs, cream puffs and gougères. Practicing the techniques of mixing, piping and baking this dough will further sharpen your skills and give you yet another component for making more complex dramatic desserts.

Essentials You Will Learn

  • Crème Pâstisserie
  • Wet Caramel
  • Páte a Glacér
  • Shapped Desserts

The Items You Make Will Include:

  • Coffee, Chocolate and Vanilla Éclairs
  • Croquembouche
  • Gâteau Saint-Honoré
  • Gougères
  • Paris-Brest

Lessons Include:

  • Dough basics: Experiment with the chemistry behind the method for preparing this cooked dough, as well as the correct timing and technique for consistent results.
  • Crème Pâstisserie: Learn additional variations of classic pastry cream as well as how to flavor and combine with other components, such as meringue and praline paste.
  • Piping: Learn the basics of piping as you make Paris-Brest, profiteroles and other shaped pastries. This is groundwork for the more delicate and intricate piping necessary that comes later in the program.
  • Glazes and sauces: how to make and use a wet-caramel i as a base for sauces and glazes. Work with pàte à glacer to finish cakes, cookies and pastries and create basic sauces that can be used for plating your desserts.

Pâte Feuillette – Puff Pastry: This flaky, multilayered pastry has been inspiring French bakers for centuries. At once crunchy, tender and light, its buttery goodness is hard to resist. Learn the techniques to making it consistently. The preparation method for rolling out and baking this dough will further expand your knowledge of working with the basic ingredients of any dough to achieve a specific final result.

The Items You Will Make Include:

  • Palmiers
  • Cheese Straws
  • Conversations
  • Tarte Tatin
  • Napoleons

Principles of Cooking

  • Three Classic Methods: Explore the classic, inverse and quick methods of creating puff pastry and determine which to use for each application.
  • Shaping and Finishing: Twisting cheese straws into shape, rolling and cutting palmiers, glazing and decorating a napoleon with a two-toned marbleized glaze are just some examples of the techniques you’ll learn.

Viennoiserie and Bread: Over two units, you’ll learn about bread products that are relevant to the pastry kitchen, including quick breads, such as lemon poppy seed muffins and scones; Viennoiserie, such as laminated doughs for croissants and Danish; and pre-ferment doughs, such as baguettes and focaccia.

Additional Techniques

  • Laminated Doughs
  • Pre-Ferment Doughs
  • Incorporating Fats
  • Leavened Baked Goods

The items you’ll make include:

  • Pecan Sticky Buns
  • Irish Soda Bread
  • Croissants
  • Brioche
  • Stollen
  • Bagels

Essential Skills

  • Leavening methods: Explore the three ways to leaven baked goods—organic, mechanical, and chemical—and gain a wider understanding of the production complexities that come with each method.
  • Yeast and pre-ferment formulas: Whether using a straight-dough method or using one of the pre-ferment methods (sponge, polish, sourdough or autolyse) you will exercise your hand at mixing, forming and baking breads from around the globe.
  • Quick bread mixing methods: While mixing up a batch of quick breads, such as banana bread, you’ll learn the methods for incorporating fat into quick batters and doughs (creamed

Cakes: Buttery golden pound cake, moist three-layer lemon chiffon enveloped in buttercream and crunchy, rich dacquoise au café are just some of the confections you will take on during your study of cake. In two units, one basic and one advanced, you’ll learn the process of cake making and how to stack, fill, crumb coat and finish a tiered cake, in addition to piping and decorating techniques that keep improving.

Things You’ll Learn

  • Génoise
  • French meringue
  • Swiss meringue
  • Italian meringue
  • Ganache
  • Fondant
  • Buttercream
  • Marzipan
  • Sugar Paste Flowers

The items you’ll make include:

  • Carrot Cake
  • Marjolaine
  • Fruit Mousse Miroir
  • Charlotte Royale
  • Dacquoise au Café
  • Angel Food Cake

Essential Skills

  • Cake-making methods: Learn the basic génoise which is basis for many classic preparations. Make cakes using liquid fat and creamed butter methods and batters lightened with meringue, discovering how each method generates unique qualities of density, crumb, moistness, and taste.
  • Egg whites: Beaten egg whites are essential to create a wide variety of cakes, fillings, frostings and desserts. Learn and practice with different meringues in several applications.
  • Frostings and finishes: Produce several types of finishes and even more variations on the fillings. You will work a variety of confections, from marzipan to fondant—both as a finishing encasement for a layered cake and as a decorating tool.
  • Decorating techniques: Stenciling, piping, sugar paste flowers, chocolate curls and marzipan fruits and flowers are just a few of the decorations you’ll execute.

Petits Fours: Mainly used to refer to the small bites served at cocktail parties, buffets, luncheons, teatime and often as a finish to the dessert course at fine dining restaurants, petits fours are a must-know for any soon-to-be pastry chef or bakery owner. Almost anything can be made into a petit four, and mastering these small treats will fine-tune your skills by tasking you to adapt what you’ve learned to produce small cakes, tartlets, cookies and meringues.

Additional Techniques

  • Sec (dry) Petits Fours
  • Frais (fresh) Petits Fours

The items you’ll make include:

  • Opera Cakes
  • Macarons
  • Financiers
  • Madeleines

What You’ll Learn

  • Types of petits fours: You will make a range and determine the storage and use of each to suit the occasion.
  • Hand skills: Because petits fours are small in scale and served in groups, consistent execution is very exacting. Crafting diminutive versions of familiar pastries will give you practice in hand skills and refine your ability to turn out identical-looking product in large quantities.
  • Visual skills: An essential part of a pastry chef’s talent lies in design--knowing how to plate a dessert in a visually appealing manner. This unit will be your first exposure to plating, with several opportunities to practice arranging an assortment of the petits fours, taking into account shape, size and color.
  • Taste: As you practice composing service platters for your petits fours, you will also be encouraged to think about flavor. You’ll evaluate how the flavors of individual petits fours pair with one another and build upon these findings when you eventually create your own.

Individual Desserts: An individual dessert synthesizes many pastry techniques into one composition. A pastry chef must draw from all their knowledge–doughs, fillings, chocolate or sugar work–to present a complete, single-portion creation. You will learn this over two levels, one basic and one advanced. Eventually, you’ll plan and execute an original menu for an outside audience with your classmates, giving you a taste of restaurant kitchen organization and test your ability to work effectively as a team in with time restrictions.

What You’ll Explore

  • Sous vide technique
  • Hydyrocolloids
  • Ice Creams
  • Fried Batters

The items you’ll make include:

  • Crepes suzette
  • Soufflés
  • Tropical Fruit Soups
  • Contemporary Tiramisu
  • Deconstructed Black Forest Dessert

What You'll Learn

  • Classic Desserts: Well-known desserts such as crème brulee, cheesecake and beignets are the building blocks of more challenging creations. You will execute these favorites, which are simple in idea, but complex in versatility and execution.
  • Conceptualization: Creating a dynamic dessert requires understanding how to balance flavors, textures, temperatures and aesthetics. Learn how to incorporate modern techniques and ingredients into the classic recipes you have already learned. These will be constructed – and deconstructed – to reveal why they are successful.
  • Menus and Seasonality: Explore the regional seasons of fruits and vegetables to prove the significance of using products at their peak form. Learn how seasonality affects both a kitchen’s bottom line and its flavor profiles, crucial as you develop and present a dessert menu and concept.
  • Working as a team: Because of their complexity, plated desserts are well-suited to fine-tuning your kitchen command, communication and real-world timing. You’ll need to know when to ask for help and when to give it; how to make a plan and how to alter it on the fly, in order to reach the common goal.
  • Restaurant modules: In order to be a successful in the industry, you must have an understanding of essential secondary subjects often associated with being a pastry chef. The instruction includes: gluten-free and vegan desserts, food costing, tea, coffee, wine and cheese.

Chocolate: This unit of study will graduate in complexity and expose you to the challenges of working with chocolate and how to handle them like a pro. Chef-instructors will start you off with a general lesson on chocolate production and selection. You will move on to learning about the structure of chocolate and the tricky science of tempering melted chocolate for dipping candies and bonbons, as well as constructing your own creative chocolate sculptures. And finally, you will practice using chocolate to make cakes and plated desserts.

The items you’ll make include:

  • Peanut butter nougat
  • Truffles
  • Bonbons
  • Chocolate-Dipped Butter Caramels
  • Marquise au Chocolat

What You'll Learn

  • Sensory evaluation and critical thinking: You will begin the process of assessing the flavor, texture and “mouthfeel” of different chocolates and determining how to use and pair each with other ingredients. You’ll evaluate the varieties of chocolate and decide what chocolate profiles will result in a desired effect.
  • Tempering: You will practice each of the five ways to temper chocolate, beginning with the traditional three methods of tabling, seeding and ice bath and later incorporating the Mycryo® and partial-melting methods.
  • Decorations: Learn how to make templates to cut shapes out of poured chocolate, mold chocolate, apply patterns to the surface using transfer sheets, as well as techniques (such as wood grain, piping and marbling), adding color with cocoa butter, air brush and luster dust. You will be able to marry these techniques to design and craft a chocolate box, a candy dish and a themed display piece.
  • Dipping and piping: Ganache-filled bonbons, soft caramels, cherry cordials…just a few of the confections you will dip and decorate with chocolate. You’ll gain experience with evenly and thinly coating your candies and learn tactics for creating smooth, unblemished surfaces and neatly piped lines.

Sugar: Working with sugar requires patience, a fastidious attention to details and a stylish flair. Sugar—in all its mediums—is perhaps the most essentially artistic skill you will learn in pastry school. Because of its hygroscopic (attracts water) nature, sugar can be temperamental and tricky to maintain, but this simple ingredient is used for making many of the embellishments and adornments crafted by pastry chefs. In two units, one basic and one advanced, you will learn how to mold fruit and other shapes out of marzipan, make and work with pastillage and nougatine, form your own sugar paste flowers and pour, pull and blow hot sugar to make exquisite decorations.

Skills You Will Master

  • Sugar paste flowers
  • Marzipan fruit
  • Pastillage cake stand and favor boxes
  • Poured, pulled, and blown sugar

What You'll Learn

  • Color application: In each of the sugar sections, you will practice the various methods for applying color to product, using methods as simple as kneading color into sugar paste or pastillage to create base colors, or as complicated as painting intricate patterns on flowers. You’ll evaluate the different effects produced by these techniques and how you want to employ them in your own creations.
  • Hand-skills and artistry: Cutting, pouring, molding and shaping are just some of the opportunities you will have to prove your hand skills and sharpen your eye for design. With your classmates, you will construct projects, such as an individual showpiece entirely from sugar, or the cake stand and favor boxes you will cut out and shape from pastillage.

Wedding Cakes: In your last unit before the final project and graduation, you’ll ambitiously execute a wedding cake of your own design. Just as you would do for a client, you‘ll be required to submit a drawing for a cake following the theme and wedding details supplied to you. You will then be responsible for completing your design, from the baking of the cake to the finishing decorations.

Final Exam: The final unit of comprises both a written and practical final exam and is the culmination of everything you’ve learned in the 600-hour program. All of your pastry skills will be utilized as you mix, bake, proof and dip the items from categories assigned to you for evaluation, plus design and execute the display stand from sugar, chocolate, nougatine and/or pastillage. Your chef-instructors will evaluate you work habits and executions. Guest pastry chefs will critique the quality of your final products based on taste, texture and design, and give you feedback that will serve you well beyond graduation as you embark upon your rising career.

The International Culinary Center is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC). The full-time day program is open to enrollment by M-1 nonimmigrant students. In accordance with US Department of Education requirements, the International Culinary Center discloses certain educational, labor, and financial statistics related to this program. View disclosure for daytime and evening schedules.

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