Favorite Foods: Chocolate Croissant Nirvana

By Paula McIntyre

Monday, April 1, 2013

Next up in our series of Favorite Foods Around Town, Chocolate, is a bit of croissant nirvana from 9 Beans Row.

When we started Up North Foodies in 2007, I wrote in my bio that I was on the lookout for a good chocolate croissant. I had been spoiled by the pain au chocolat from Zingerman's Bakehouse, just a short drive from our previous home in Ann Arbor. Tender and light, with just the right amount of chocolate, these croissants are a dream. The ones I found around Traverse City were usually heavy, dense, and cloyingly sweet.

And then Jen Welty came to the rescue.

Chocolate Croissant

She and her husband Nic got their start running a CSA farm at Black Star Farms in 2008. That fall they decided to start their own farm, 9 Beans Row, based in Northport. Jen also decided to add baked goods to their business, so with Nic focusing on the farm, she set about working magic to produce delicious pastries and breads.

"I was trained to make bread at La Chatelaine Bakery/Cafe in Columbus," Jen says. "This was a family-owned business, the family being from Belgium."

While working at the bakery, Jen ate a lot of croissants but never made them. Clearly though, one can learn by the eating. One bite of Jen's croissants shows that's just what she did.

Searching online, Jen found a promising recipe from Julia Child and tried it out. It proved to be a great recipe. With just a few tweaks, Jen came up with a keeper that has found a receptive market in Northern Michigan. In the summer, the bakery makes anywhere from 250 to 1,000 croissants per day. In the winter, they make about 250 on busier days, like for the farmers market on saturdays.

Jen uses Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate chips, about 10 big ones per croissant. "And the not-so-secret ingredient is....BUTTER, mais oui!," she says. "One pound of butter makes 16 croissants."

Chocolate Croissant interior

Until recently, you could find Jen's baked goods at their shop on Front Street in Traverse City. But the bakery outgrew that space, and Jen and Nic are looking for bigger quarters closer to their home.

In the meantime, you can find Jen's croissants at the indoor Village Farmers Market each Saturday at the Grand Traverse Commons, as well as Brew in downtown Traverse City and the Pedaling Beans Coffee House in Lake Leelanau.

Nine Bean Rows at the Farmers Market

Also in this series:

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