Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Petit Fours

I'll be honest, I had no clue what to make today. I'd been thinking about it all week. Usually I have classmates giving recommendations, but this week is break, so anything I make today won't be spreadable to my classmates. With Sunday fast approaching, I did what I always do in this circumstance - I prayed to the Great Baking Master. As I drifted off into a restless sleep, images of Petit Fours danced through my head.

And thus, I woke up with the idea to make an easy (or as easy as they come) petit four recipe. When I presented the vision to my father, who has a decent hand on French, he asked  what petit four means . I googled it and apparently means "tiny oven". Why? Because they were originally made as ovens cooled down and bakers did not want to lose any money, so they would bake things like petit fours. Additionally, a traditional petit four has four layers. 
Enough with the history lesson. Anyways. Many people figure these adorable desserts are too time consuming - but they don't have to be! Most people start with a traditional pound cake, but if you begin with a sheet cake, life is much easier. 
So, here's my adaptation of traditional mini ovens.

For the sheet cake:
3/4 cups butter, softened 
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs, room temp
1 teaspoons vanilla extract  
1 teaspoons instant coffee granules dissolved in 1/4 cup hot water 
1/2 cup buttermilk 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
1/4 teaspoon baking powder 

For the icing:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tsps corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ounces chocolate (if you want chocolate icing...) 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. Mix together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 

Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. 

Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the dissolved coffee and buttermilk.

Pour batter into prepared pan. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. 

It took me a minute to realize it reminds me of Mars. Let's take a closer look.

Yup, that's Mars.
 Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Now it's time for jam! You can use whatever filling you want, but I found this great jar of homemade blackberry jam in my fridge. My brother made it over the summer with his girlfriend. And boy, is it delicious. Plus, what doesn't go good with chocolate? Spread a layer evenly over the surface of the sheet cake.

Once it is all cooled, cut the cake into 3/4 to 1 inch squares. 

Match squares up together,  making two or three layered cakes. If they are two layered, put the jam sides facing each other. If it's three, put two jam sides together, and the third facing into the sandwich, so no jam faces are exposed.

Cake Pops!
And now time to coat! I decided to use up some extra candy melts that I had from making cake pops on Valentine's day. Yum! I just stirred in two tablespoons of canola oil for every cup of candy melts, to make it less viscous. Pinch the top and bottom and dip each of the four sides into melt. Put in a wiring cooling rack over a making sheet for dripping and paint on the top layer. 

Valentine Candy Melts
 Once I ran out, I made a half batch of frosting. Just mix together all the ingredients until it is all smooth. And just as before, gently dip in each side. To make them extra cute, I used some left over fondant and curled together tiny roses.

So much more simple than the traditional recipes, but quick and easy and very cute.

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