Making petits fours is like giving birth. Right afterwards, you’re convinced, NEVER AGAIN, because that freaking sucked. As time passes, you start thinking, well, maybe I could do that again. It’s worth it in the end, right?
It all seemed so simple at first. I baked the cake in advance and froze it. I wasn’t going to brush the cakes with syrup, and the filling I was using was storebought jam – how hard could this be? You smear your cake with jam and frosting, cut it into cubes, drizzle pourable fondant over everything, and slap on some decorations. Clearly every blog entry I’d read on petits fours, in which the person swore that they would never be doing that again, was an exaggeration.
It’s the fondant that complicates things. Pourable fondant, made of warmed powdered sugar and water and corn syrup, is, quite frankly, a big pain in the ass. You’re lucky if ten percent of it stays on the squares of cake; the remainder drips onto a pan below. The lost fondant repeatably needs to be scraped off the pan back into a double boiler to reheat. It doesn’t coat very thickly, so multiple coats are necessary, and it doesn’t dry very solid, so the finished petits fours are sticky.
Okay, so they’re not perfect, and the process was frustrating and made me late for work. (This was back in those days when “work” was teaching one course in the evenings, which now I do in addition to my full-time day job.) On the other hand, they’re so cute! And completely delicious, since they are really nothing more than cake, filling, and frosting. Yes, I will definitely be trying again. If you’d asked me four months ago, when I made these, I don’t think I would have been so certain.
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Raspberry Lemon Petits Fours
Makes about 30 petits fours
This is what I did, which is not the same as what I’ll do next time. Next time I’ll use Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake, because it isn’t as moist, and regular, rolled, fondant, probably a marshmallow version.
For decorations, consider fresh fruit to match your flavors; royal icing flowers (purchased or homemade); piped royal icing; or something more interesting that I’m not creative enough to come up with.
½ recipe White Cake (my adaptation), baked in a 9×13-inch pan for 16-22 minutes
¼ cup raspberry jam
½ recipe of Dorie Greenspan’s Buttercream
1 recipe Pourable Lemon Fondant (recipe follows)
Cut cake in half crosswise. Spread jam over one cake half. Spread buttercream over jam; you might not use it all. Top with remaining cake half. With a serrated knife, trim cake edges; cut cake into 1¼-inch squares. Arrange the squares on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Use a squeeze bottle, pastry bag, or ziploc bag with a hole cut from a corner to cover cake squares with fondant. As necessary, scrape fondant from baking sheet back into double boiler; rewarm. Allow fondant to dry before adding decorations.
Pourable Lemon Fondant: (from Use Real Butter)
2¼ cups (10 ounces) confectioner’s sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon lemon extract
drop of yellow food coloring (optional)
Combine all ingredients except coloring in double boiler. Heat until lukewarm. Remove from heat and stir in food coloring.