1.25.2010

Petit Fours

Petit FoursI think I need to revise my New Year’s Resolutions, adding one into the mix that I forgot about before. Being on time should have made the cut. I’m notorious for being late. Late getting up. Late getting ready. Late to work. Late to dinner. Late to meet people. Late for practically everything. I can almost bet that I’ll be late to my wedding when I get married, and late to my funeral when I die. It’s a trait I was born with. Some people have artistic or musical talent, some have unstoppable energy, some have a sunny disposition. Me? I have lateness. It’s engrained. I try to be on time, I really do, but very rarely do I succeed. Here in the blogosphere, it’s no different. My 1 year blogiversary was last Thursday, and I had this big project planned. I was going to make Petit Fours as my big celebratory post. Well… Here they are! 4 days late.


I’ve always thought Petit Fours were adorable. Cute tiny little cakes all glazed and decorated with royal icing. That idea was what I was going for when I started out. As you can see above, I didn’t completely end up there. The cake part was easy enough, especially when I had a Sous Chef to help me! Dani came over the day I was baking and wanted to help. I’m not much for relinquishing control of my kitchen, so “helping” was really just reading me the recipe. I did let her add the egg yolks though. I guess I should add “sharing” to my resolution list too.


It was the glazing and decorating part that really did me in. After spending quite a bit of time cutting up the cake and rolling out the marzipan (which isn’t completely necessary if you don’t want to use it, but it totally helped glue all the cake that fell apart on me back together.. ), I started in on the sugar glaze. The Martha recipe I was using said to glaze with white chocolate. Eh. Not a big white chocolate fan. Most of the other recipes I found online called for anywhere between 7 and 9 cups of confectioners’ sugar. I didn’t have that much, and didn’t really want to go out and buy it. So I settled on a recipe I found for 3 cups of granulated sugar boiled and cooled, with only 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar added in. Sounded easy enough, right? Totally wrong.

The idea of cooked sugar scares me to death to begin with. I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s insanely hot and I can just picture myself with a sugary toasted hand. But the recipe was pretty straight forward and I managed it without burning myself. After the hour and a half of it cooling to the right temperature, I did exactly as my recipe called and added in my cup of confectioners’ sugar and stirred it around to mix with my food coloring. At that point, it was supposed to be still fairly liquidy and glaze like. Within a minute of adding my sugar, it was more rock-like than glazey. Back onto the heat it went to melt it back down to the right consistency. It took me two cakes to get the right glazing technique down, which by that time, my glaze had hardened up again. Back onto the fire. 3 more times. Out of the 10 cakes I managed to get glazed, 1 actually came out looking somewhat decent. Not great. Just decent. One. Single. Cake. At this rate, I’ll have 4 possibly 5 that look alright. I was ready to give up. Scrap the entire project.. Except I had blown more than half of my baking budget on this project alone. Actually, I had gone completely over my baking budget buying the ingredients, because I had already spent the majority of it in the first week stocking up on ingredients. I couldn’t just throw it all away.

After quite a few tears and Boyfriend talking me down from my ledge yet again, I pulled a can of store bought frosting out of my pantry and started icing. They wouldn’t look as pretty as traditional Petit Fours, but at least they weren’t going to end up in the garbage. And even though they weren’t completely perfect and beautiful like I had been picturing, they’re damn tasty. I can’t stop eating them. I had planned on bringing them into work to share, but after sitting on my counter during my rare 3 day weekend, there’s probably not even enough to take with me tonight. Oh well. More for me!

After all the drama with these, I now know why I gravitate towards cookies and cupcakes most of the time. They’re so much more simple. And so much less time consuming. Were these Petit Fours worth the time and effort? Eh. Not really. Not in this form at least. Maybe as a whole cake because the flavors are awesome, but I don’t think I’ll be trying to glaze again.





Petit FoursPetit Fours
Adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
Makes about 4 dozen




Cake:
1 ½ sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
½ cup almond paste (not marzipan)
6 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Filling:
1 10-ounce jar of seedless raspberry fruit spread or jam

Topping:
4 ounces marzipan (a little more than half of a 7-ounce tube)
1 can store bought frosting
Sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 17x12-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line with parchment paper and butter parchment; set aside. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add ½ cup of sugar and beat until the mixture forms soft peaks. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
3. In a clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together 1 ¼ cups sugar and almond paste until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition, and scraping down the sides as needed. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk, and beginning and ending with the flour. Add a third of the egg white mixture to egg yolk mixture, and fold with a spatula. Gently fold in remaining whites.
4. Spread batter evenly on prepared pan, and bake, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 22 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to 1 day.
5. Invert cake onto a large work surface and peel off parchment paper. With a serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into two even layers. With an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of jam over the top of one layer. Top with the second layer. Trim off edges of cake and discard. Using a serrated knife, cut cake into 2-inch squares. (To make more uniform squares, use a 2 inch square cookie cutter.)
6. Roll out marzipan into a paper thin layer. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter, cut out enough squares to top each small cake. Dipping your finger in a bowl of water, moisten the marzipan slightly. Lay marzipan square on the top of the cake and press down gently with your hand to seal. Repeat with remaining marzipan and cakes.
7. With a small offset spatula, top each cake with a teaspoon of frosting, spreading to cover the edges, and swirling to decorate. Top with sprinkles.
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3 comments:

Chow and Chatter said...

oh looks so good

Ingrid said...

You know the "glazed" version of petit fours have never done anything for me but now those frosted ones look darn good. Oh, and for the record cookies while easy are seriously time consuming. Bars are the way to go! :)
~ingrid

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I agree, petit fours suck!!! ;)

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