Anyone interested in some individually decorated, bite-sized cakes??? Oh, me, me, MEEEE! [frantically waving my hand in the air like an excited schoolgirl]
Petit fours come in many different shapes and sizes. Some people use the term “petit four” when referring to chocolates, small desserts, or cubes of cake dipped in icing, but the traditional petit four is comprised of thin layers of delicate cake separated by jam or flavored liquor syrup and covered with icing.
Typically, petit fours are made with a genoise cake, which doesn’t contain any chemical leavener. Instead, air is whipped into the eggs, and it is this air that causes the cake to rise during baking.
What you’ll need:
1 genoise cake recipe, below
1 roll of marzipan (available at most grocery stores, aka almond paste)
Candy Melts in various colors (available at craft stores)
powdered sugar or shortening for rolling out the marzipan
Classic Genoise Cake
1 cup sifted cake flour (I just used multi-purpose flour…I know it’s a baking sin. I repent!)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a jelly roll pan (12 x 17 x 1″) and line it with parchment paper, allowing the parchement paper to hang over the edges. This will allow you to lift the entire cake out of the pan after baking, and the grease will hold the parchment in place while you pour the batter in the pan.
Sift together the flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Place the eggs into a mixing bowl set over a pan of hot (not boiling) water. Add the 1/2 cup sugar to the eggs and whisk until the mixture feels warm (not hot) to the touch. Remember, the whisking is very important here so no slacking off!
Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture to the beaten eggs and fold in. Continue to add the remainder of the flour, folding it in each time. Be careful while you fold in the flour mixture so you do not deflate all the air you incorporated into the eggs.
Place about 1 cup of the batter into the bowl containing the melted butter and then combine with the rest of the batter by folding. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Immediately bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges and top are lightly browned. When the cake is fully baked, the center should spring back when you touch it. Allow it to cool in the pan 10 minutes. Gripping the parchment paper, carefully lift the cake to a cooling rack to cool completely.
If you’d like your petit fours to be 4 layers of cake, cut each of these quarters in half horizontally. Because I actually used a larger jelly roll pan than the recipe suggested, my cake came out thinner so I did not cut these in half horizontally. They’re your petit fours – do what makes you happy!
Spread a thin layer of jam over one of the quarters and top it with another quarter. Hint: You can microwave the jam for a few seconds to make it easier to spread over this delicate cake. The jam layer should be so thin that you should be able to see the cake through it.
Brush one side of the marzipan with a little water to make it sticky. Then place it on top of your cake quarter. Trim the edges with a knife or scissors, and repeat until all cake sandwhiches are marzipan-topped.
Cut the cakes into 1 x 1″ or 1 1/2 x 1 1/2″ squares, keeping your serated knife as straight as possible.
Place Candy Melts in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring occasionally. When all the lumps are gone, remove the saucepan from the heat. Working quickly, dip the petit four, marzipan-side down, into the candy melts and coat all sides, except the bottom. For ease in handling the petit fours, I skewered 2 toothpicks through them.
Then the petit fours can be packaged or placed on a serving tray. More importantly, they’re ready to be eaten!