Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Petits Fours

With Valentines Day just around the corner, what better way to surprise your loved one with something home made and from the heart? These were surprisingly easy to make, a bit time consuming but they were not difficult. I made them for the first time this past weekend for my mom's birthday. We didn't want a cake and especially not a store bought cake either so I decided to try something new. Petits Fours! What is a petit four? Its a small, bite sized confection, in this case, a small cake layered with fruit jam and then covered with a sugar glaze or fondant.

If you are 100% prepared, then this might not be as time consuming as it was for me, I made the almond paste from scratch as well as the frangipane cake, which is the traditional cake for this nice little dessert.

You will need one recipe of cake or you could always just make or buy a different kind of cake as long as you can cut it without crumbling too much. If the cake is dry, brush on some fruit liquer or melted jam (or both!).

You will also need a fruit jam of your choice or you could make butter cream layers. I used raspberry and apricot jam since the cake was pretty rich.

Step 1. Determine the size petit fours you want. I think mine were about a square inch. I cut the first row, and then used that row as a pattern to make even squares across the rest of the cake.

Step 2: Look through your squares. If any of them are thick enough to be split, I say go ahead and split them to thin out the cake. It will be nice to have a couple triple petits fours (wow so many numbers in that sentence!)

Step 3: Start spreading the jam! Don't put too much or it will ooze out of the sides, and don't do too little, you want to be able to taste the fruit! Top the jammed cake with another cake and voila, you have a double layer petit four, or if you want to make a triple layer, try using two different fruit jams.

Step 4: Once you have all of your petits fours ready, get your glaze going. Here is the recipe I used:

  • 6 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp almond extract (or any kind you like)

  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, water and corn syrup. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a temperature of 92 F, I think mine went a little higher but it was fine.  Mixture should be thin enough to pour, but thick enough to coat . Stir in the almond extract.

  • Step 6: Place a petit four on a fork, hold it over your glaze pot and with a spoon, spoon the glaze over the cake making sure that all sides have been covered. Allow the excess to drop off and then place on a cooling rack to dry.
  • Step 7: Once the petit fours are dry, you can decorate them any way you would like, or if you are using stick on decorations, be sure to stick them to the fondant glaze while still wet to ensure that the decorations stay.

  • Use your imagination as well as what you have in your cupboard, you would be surprised at the amount of combinations and flavors you can come up with! 

  • Lastly...Enjoy!

Almond Paste for Pastries & Desserts

You might be thinking, what do I need almond paste for!? Well, if you are baking frangipane, you will need almond paste. You might now be thinking, what the heck is frangipane? Well...have you ever had petits fours? Its the cake layer, and its quite delicious!

1 3/4 cups ground almonds
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a food processor add all of the ingredients and mix. Your paste is now formed!

Because of the raw egg, I will be using this paste in a baked good, but other versions of paste that don't use raw eggs can be used for pastry fillings, cookies, cakes...you name it!


I've decided make this its own post, solely for the purpose of making it easier to find in the future should any of us need it for something.

This cake is so moist and buttery and is typically used to make Petits Fours. You have the choice to use pre-ground almond meal or you can grind your own almonds, in which case you might want to blanch them and remove the skins. I bought pre-ground almond meal from Trader Joes so  the cake is not purely white, which is perfectly fine!

7 oz almond paste
1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs at room temperature
1/2 cup flour
Parchment paper

Now, this part is confusing because it depends on how thick you want the cake to be. I used the smallest of the cookie sheets that I had, lined it with pachment paper and preheated the oven to 350F.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.