Sunday, August 28, 2011

Petit Fours--Tiny Bites of Sugar

photo by Anthony Palatta

Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by petit fours, tiny layered cakes covered in royal icing, usually decorated with candy flowers or frosted messages.

Since we were stuck at home this weekend thanks to "hurricane" Irene, I thought I'd take advantage of all that free time to try out this recipe from Anne Thornton, host of Desserts First on the Food Network. It was funny to go to the grocery store and while everyone else was loading up on water and energy bars, I was buying boxes of confectioner's sugar and raspberry preserves. The lady at the checkout took a look at my basket and started laughing.

The recipe is rated as difficult, but it's not too bad, merely a lot of steps. The cakes themselves are mostly almond paste, with a bit of sugar, flour, and two sticks of butter. Anne suggests adding almond extract to the almond paste, which I found overkill. I'd skip that next time.

Divide the batter into three quarter sheet pans and bake at 350 for about 12 to 15 minutes. You want a cake tester to come out completely clean.

When the cakes are cool, which doesn't take that long, you stack them up with raspberry jam between the layers, and then refrigerate them for at least an hour to set, weighed down by another cookie sheet and something heavy. I used a cookbook.

After they're chilled, you can cut the cakes into cute little sandwiches. I went a bit bigger than Anne suggested, and I think next time, I'd go smaller. These are INTENSELY sweet.  You only need a bite or two to be satisfied.

The icing recipe calls for 17 1/2 cups or 5 boxes of confectioner's sugar, mixed with corn syrup, water, and almond extract. I found 4 was plenty. Just add until you get a slightly thick consistency. I noticed that the icing was starting to harden on the sides of the pot I was mixing it in, so I knew it was ready.

Divide the icing into three heatproof bowls and keep them on double boilers over simmering water so the icing doesn't harden.  Color them as desired, then begin to cover your cakes. I placed one on a fork, held it over the icing, then used a spoon to douse it with icing. Try to go thin along the sides. A little icing goes a long way and it's easy to overdo it.

photo by Anthony Palatta
They are very pretty and you get a lot out of desserts out of this one recipe. They are also incredibly sweet, like biting into an almond flavored sugar cube!

1 comment:

  1. i really like this site .. all the pastries are looks so delicious