Petit Fours

For K’s birthday and for Mother’s Day I made petit fours. Little layered cake style that are 1.25 inch squares. After reading How to eat a cupcake make them I expected the worst, but as you can see they turned out just beautiful. I combined a few different recipes and crossed my fingers.

Petit Fours

In order to make Petit Fours a couple of recipes are required, at least. This dessert is not for the faint of heart, or for those short on time. I spent two days making these, and only at 11PM they finally went into the fridge for their final rest (this mainly because I have a life, and I was also making a chocolate cake for K’s birthday).

Requirements: Cake, Filling, Topping, Frosting, Decorating

Any recipe for a dense pound cake will be good for this. I used a variation of HowToEatACupcake’s Lemon-Poppyseed Cake. I strongly recommend making the cake in her recipe when in need of just an insanely delicious pound cake. I made this cake with some variations so that the petit fours would be delicious inside. For the actual recipe just click through the link and below is the variant recipe that I used for the petit fours.

Petit Fours Pound Cake

(adapted from HowToEatACupcake.com who got it from “Baking by Flavor” by Lisa Yockelson under the name Lemon-Poppyseed Cake)

2 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 teaspoon salt
1.5 sticks (12 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs (at room temperature)
2/3 cup thick, cultured sour cream
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper that overhangs the edges. Later this extra paper will allow for easier removal of the thin cake.

Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Cream the butter in the large bowl of a standing electric mixer on moderate speed for 4 minutes. Add the granulated sugar in three additions, beating for 1 minute after each portion is added. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing for 45 seconds after each addition. On low speed, alternately added the sifted ingredients in three additions with the sour cream in two additions, beginning and ending with the sifted mixture. The batter will be creamy and moderately thick. Blend in the milk. Mix the batter slowly and thoroughly and avoid incorporating air into it. You need a very dense cake that has no big bubbles in it. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Shake the pan gently from side to side, once or twice, to level the top and if bubbles have formed tap the pan on the counter to bring them up to surface and pop.

Bake the cake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until lightly browned, set, and a wooden pick inserted in the cake withdraws clean. The baked cake will pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert the cake out and turn it right-side up onto the cooling rack. Allow to cool to room temperature before proceeding.

Trim the browned edges and cut sheet into 4 quarters. With a long knife and on a level surface slice each of the 4 pieces horizontally into 2 equal sheets giving you 8 very thin sheets of cake about a quarter of the size of the pan. For detailed photographs of the process VeganYumYum has an excellent entry on Petit Fours.

Filling

Filling can be any flavour you or your intended audience likes. I had several different jars of jams with a little bit in them so I ended up with every layer having a different flavour. Heat the jam a little to make it more spreadable, if the flavour is very intense you can add a bit of water to dilute it. I ended up running out of jam and used lemon curd for one of the layers, I think it’s pretty good since it adds a lot of flavour. Spread the jam on one of the layers of cake very thinly, you should be able to see the cake through the jam. Place another layer of cake on top and repeat with another layer of jam. Depending on the thickness of your cake you may be able to use either 3 or 4 layers. It should not exceed 1.5 inches. In the end there should be either 2 or 3 small stacked cakes. You can place them one on top of another separated with parchment or wax paper and place in the fridge to cool and seize up. If you’re planning on making the petit fours over two days this is the perfect time to place the cake in the fridge and take a break.

Topping

Traditionally, petit fours have a layer of marzipan on top of the cakes it helps the frosting remain smooth. And who doesn’t like smooth frosting? Right. You’re just saying that.

Two cakes require about 1/3 cup of marzipan to cover completely. Knead the marzipan to soften it a little. Spread some powdered sugar to prevent from sticking and get your smoothest rolling pin. I use a silicone rolling pin and put powdered sugar on it as well. Roll out the marzipan to very thin, about 1/8 of an inch (or more sensibly about 2 mm.) Brush a little water on the cake and place the rolled out marzipan on top. Cut the marzipan larger than the cake to ensure the whole thing will be covered. Trim the edges and repeat with the rest of the cakes. Using a ruler score the marzipan into 1 1/4 inch squares. You should be able to get a 3×5 grid onto the cake giving you 15 petit fours per cake. Put into the fridge (or freezer) for a little while to tighten the marzipan before cutting.

With a large very sharp knife cut the little cakes based on the scored measurements. Use long, smooth strokes and keep the knife as perpendicular as possible. Place the cut cakes on a cooling rack with some space between them and place back in the fridge while you prepare the frosting.

Frosting

For the frosting temperature and consistency is key.

4 cups of powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Over a double boiler mix together all the ingredients. Continue mixing until the mixture reaches 160°F, or until the sugar melts. The frosting will look thin, and uniform. Add any coloring to it now. Place about 1-2 drops of coloring for this batch. Set up a large bowl full of hot water in the sink and place the bowl with the frosting on top. The water below will keep the frosting warm. Keeping everything in the sink will keep the mess down. Mix the frosting and allow it to cool down. You can test when it is ready by allowing the frosting to streak the surface. If the streak stays for 2 seconds it is the perfect consistency.

Place the rack with the petit fours next to the sink on top of a cookie sheet and bring them one at a time over the bowl. Place the cake on a fork over the bowl of frosting. With a large spoon pour frosting over the cake and allow to drip back into the bowl. Tilt the cake around and keep pouring until all the sides are covered. With a second fork push the frosted cake back onto the cooling rack and repeat with the rest of the cakes. Allow the frosting to dry completely before decorating.

Decorating

Decorating is where you can decide what your little squares are. You can decorate them into houses, boxes tied with ribbon, bonbons, just placing different fruits, flowers or edible decorations on top, or you can just leave them as they are.

I melted some chocolate for mine and drizzled it on ones and put bows on the others.

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About majathebee
When planning dinner, my first idea is dessert.

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