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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Recipe: Glazed Petits Fours

Glazed Petits Fours

Recipe: Glazed Petits Fours



Pinkies up!

Let's be honest. Pastry can be prissy, and nothing is quite as precious at the Petit Four. Small confections that conjure images of aging dowagers sipping tea as they survey their late husbands' estate (okay, maybe that's unfair)... no matter how you look at them, they're tiny treats crammed with connotations.

Petits Fours, which literally translates to "little ovens", were originally a way for bakers to take advantage of the dwindling heat in their wood and coal fueled ovens. The smaller sized cakes and cookies required less heat to bake to perfection. 

The Glazed Petit Four, or Petit Four GlacĂ©, is perhaps the most fussy of all Petits Fours. Veritable canvasses for intricate piping and decoration, these bite-sized creations are made from layers of Almond Sponge Cake and Fruit Preserves which are then topped with a layer of Marzipan and enrobed in a Poured Fondant Glaze.

Layers of Joconde Biscuit (Sponge Cake)
As with the recent recipe for Opera Cake, Glazed Petits Fours are largely an exercise in assembling many different components, none of which are terribly difficult on their own. Each component can be prepared in advance and set aside for later assembly. In fact, almost everything is best prepared at least 24 hours in advance.

  • Almond Sponge Cake - As the primary component of the Glazed Petits Fours, the Almond Sponge Cake can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic wrap.
  • Bakers' Jam / Fruit Preserves - While you can make your own Fruit Jelly or Compote to layer in between the sheets of Almond Sponge Cake, commercially available products are quite good and much faster. But whatever you use, it should be sufficiently thick so that it does not soak into the Almond Sponge Cake. Bakers' Jam is a thicker product made specifically for such uses.
  • Marzipan - Rolled thin and placed as the top layer of the Glazed Petits Fours, this sweet, Almond-flavored dough should be made a day in advance so that it is well rested before rolling. 
  • Poured Fondant - As the final coating that covers the Glazed Petits Fours, the Poured Fondant is another component that works best when it is made at least a day in advance. It will, however, need to be gently heated and thinned with Simple Syrup before it can be used to Glaze the Petits Fours.
  • Royal Icing - A mixture of Egg Whites and Powdered Sugar, this decorative Icing will keep for several days when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, but it can just as easily be made moments before it is needed.

For tips on how to best execute a Sponge Caketake a look at this earlier post. The most important consideration is to avoid over-folding the batter, which will cause the Meringue to deflate and produce a dense, unleavened Sponge Cake.

Log of Marzipan
Marzipan is extremely easy to make, particularly when it is mixed by hand. Hand-mixing makes it easier to determine when the Marzipan is properly hydrated.

It is best to make Marzipan the day before it is needed, letting it rest overnight. At the very least, it should sit for an hour.

Before rolling the Marzipan into a thin (i.e 1/8" thick) sheet to cover the top layer of the Petits Fours, let it temper to room temperature while still wrapped in plastic wrap and then knead the Marzipan smooth. If the Marzipan is sticky, roll it out on a work surface lightly dusted with Corn Starch.

Always keep any unused Marzipan double wrapped in plastic wrap as it will dry extremely quickly when exposed to the air.

Poured Fondant for Glazing Petits Fours
Poured Fondant should also be made at least a day before assembling the Petits Fours so that it can rest before it is used. When glazing any product, it is best to have much more Poured Fondant available than you will need. You don't want to worry about having to conserve, likely resulting in bare spots. Make a double batch (1,000g) for these Petits Fours, just in case.

Before it can be used, the Poured Fondant should be gently heated to no more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius) and thinned to the proper consistency with Simple Syrup (a 50/50 mixture of Sugar and Water by weight). The Fondant should be thin enough to pour easily and leave the thinnest possible coating on the Petits Fours without being translucent.

Glaze the Petits Fours on a wire cooling rack over a parchment lined sheet tray. This makes it easy to collect any excess Poured Fondant which can be saved for future use.

As the Poured Fondant begins to set, carefully move the Petits Fours away from where the excess Poured Fondant is dripping. This will prevent any excess from hardening at the base of the Petits Fours, which could create "feet".

Spending Layers of Almond Sponge Cake with Raspberry Preserves
With all of the components in hand, it's time to put everything together...

Begin by cutting the Almond Sponge Cake into four equal sized rectangles. If you baked the Almond Sponge Cake on a half sheet tray, each piece should measure approximately 5" x 8"(accounting for some scraps at the edges).

Spread a thin and even layer of Bakers' Jam on top of three of the four pieces of Almond Sponge Cake - approximately 50g each. Do not cover all four pieces! One piece will be covered with rolled Marzipan.  

Stack the four pieces of Almond Sponge Cake, placing the piece without Bakers' Jam at the top.

Sheet of Rolled Marzipan to Cover Glazed Petits Fours
Roll the Marzipan into a rectangle that covers the layered Almond Sponge Cake (approximately 5" x 8"). The Marzipan should be no more than 1/8" thick. A little Marzipan goes a long way!

Cover the top layer of the Almond Sponge Cake with the sheet of MarzipanPlace the assembled Petit Four Cake on a parchment lined sheet tray. Wrap the sheet tray in plastic wrap and then press a second sheet tray on top of the first. Place the compressed Petit Four Cake in the refrigerator with weight on top (e.g. bottles, cans, etc.) Let the compressed Petit Four Cake set and chill overnight (or at least four hours).

Compressing and chilling the Petit Four Cake helps the layers to adhere into a solid Cake.

Individually Portioned Petits Fours for Glazing
After the Petit Four Cake has set and chilled, cut it into 1" squares - approximately 40 in total. Use a sharp knife, and wipe the knife between each cut. Be precise, using a ruler if necessary. Precision and uniformity are hallmarks of Glazed Petits Fours.

Glazed Petits Fours
Arrange the Petits Fours on a wire cooling rack with adequate space between pieces. Place the wire cooling rack over a parchment lined sheet tray to catch the excess Poured Fondant, which can be collected and reused.

Warm and thin the Poured Fondant to the appropriate consistency. Transfer the Poured Fondant to a pastry bag with no tip. Cut a large enough hole in the pastry bag so that you are able to easily coat each Petit Four quickly and in a single pass, paying particular care to glaze the corners and edges.

It is important to adequately cover each Petit Four on the first pass as the Poured Fondant will begin to set quickly. If you attempt to fill in any bare spots with a second pass, the Poured Fondant will become too thick and will not have a smooth, even finish.

As the Poured Fondant begins to set, move each Petit Four slightly to prevent a "foot" of excess Glaze from forming.

Glazed and Decorated Petits Fours
Once the Poured Fondant is mostly set, decorate the Glazed Petits Fours with Royal Icing or Chocolate.

Royal Icing is a simple mixture of Egg Whites and Powdered Sugar. Very little Royal Icing is needed to decorate even a full recipe of 40 Petits Fours.

Begin by mixing just one Egg White with some Powdered Sugar, adding more Powdered Sugar until the Royal Icing is the desired consistency. For decorating Petits Fours, the Royal Icing should be thin enough squeeze from a cornet or piping bag, but thick enough to readily hold its shape and not run.

Box of Glazed and Decorated Petits Fours
The Glazed Petits Fours will keep for several days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The Glazed Petits Fours can also be refrigerated in an airtight container for over a week but should always be served at room temperature.




- The Recipe -



Glazed Petits Fours:


Yield: Approximately 40 1" Cakes


Ingredients:

  • Almond Sponge Cake (Jaconde) for Petits Fours: Half Sheet Tray / Recipe below
  • Marzipan: 225g / Half Recipe
  • Poured Fondant: 1,000g / 2x Recipe
  • Royal Icing: 210g / Recipe below
  • Bakers' Jam / Fruit Preserves: 150g




Almond Sponge Cake (Jaconde) for Petits Fours:

Yield: Half Sheet Tray (18" x 13")
  • Almond Flour: 115g (1 Cup)
  • All Purpose Flour: 60g (0.5 Cup)
  • Salt: 3g (0.5 Tsp)
  • Sugar: 50g (0.25 Cup)
  • Whole Eggs: 150g (5x)


  • Egg Whites: 90g (3x)
  • Sugar: 100g (0.5 Cup)


  • Butter, melted: 15g (1 Tbls)
  • Almond Extract: 2g (0.5 Tsp)
  • Vanilla Extract: 2g (0.5 Tsp)




Royal Icing:

Yield: 210g
  • Powdered Sugar: 180g (1.5 Cups)
  • Egg Whites: 30g (1x)
  • Food Coloring / Gel - Optional



Directions:

Almond Sponge Cake (Jaconde):

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 degrees Celsius). Line a half sheet tray (18" x 13") with parchment or a silpat and gently spray the sheet tray with non-stick spray. Allow the Eggs to temper to room temperature. Melt the Butter and set it aside to cool with the Almond Extract and Vanilla Extract. Sift together the Almond Flour, All Purpose Flour and Salt.

2. Place the Flour mixture and 50g of Sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, add the Whole Eggs one at a time. When all of the Whole Eggs have been added, increase the mixer speed and beat the batter until it is light and fluffy - approximately three minutes. Set the batter aside.

3. In a clean mixer bowl, prepare a French Meringue with the Egg Whites and 100g Sugar. Whip the Meringue to medium-stiff peaks.

4. Lighten the batter with some of the Meringue, then fold half of the lightened batter into the Meringue. While the mixture is still streaky, fold in the remaining lightened batter.

5. Lighten the melted Butter and Extracts with some of the batter. Fold the lightened melted Butter mixture into the batter.

6. Gently pour the Almond Sponge Cake batter onto the prepared sheet tray. Spread the Almond Sponge Cake batter in a thin, even layer being careful not to deflate the batter.

7. Immediately place the sheet trays in the oven and bake the Almond Sponge Cake for approximately 12-14 minutes, rotating the sheet trays half way through baking time. The baked Almond Sponge Cake should just begin to brown and should spring back at the touch.

8. Immediately remove the baked Almond Sponge Cake from the hot sheet tray and transfer it to a cool sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a wire cooling rack.

Chef's Note: With a thin, delicate Cake such as this, it is important to remove it from the heat as soon as possible to prevent over-baking.

Storage: The Almond Sponge Cake can be made several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap.


Royal Icing:

1. Combine the Egg White and 150g of the Powdered Sugar in a medium bowl and mix the ingredients until they are well combined and smooth. If the Royal Icing is too thin, add some of the remaining Powdered Sugar.

2. When coloring Royal Icing, stir the Food Coloring or Gel into fully mixed Royal Icing until it is well incorporated. As the Royal Icing is a dense, opaque product, the dyes will appear somewhat pastel unless a significant amount of coloring is used. Food Gel holds up much better than Food Coloring.

Storage: The Royal Icing can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.



Assembling the Cake:

1. Cut the sheet of Almond Sponge Cake into four equal pieces measuring approximately 5" x 8" (the edges of the sheet of Almond Sponge Cake will likely be slightly imperfect and need to be trimmed).

2. Spread a thin and even layer of Bakers' Jam on top of three of the four pieces of Almond Sponge Cake - approximately 50g each. Do not cover all four pieces of Almond Sponge Cake with Bakers' Jam as one piece will be covered with rolled Marzipan. Stack the four pieces of Almond Sponge Cake on a parchment lined sheet tray, placing the piece without Bakers' Jam at the top.

3. Roll the Marzipan into a rectangle that covers the layered Almond Sponge Cake (approximately 5" x 8"). The Marzipan should be no more than 1/8" thick. Cover the top layer of the Almond Sponge Cake with the sheet of Marzipan.

Chef's Note: Knead the Marzipan smooth before rolling it out. If the Marzipan is sticky, lightly dust the work surface with Corn Starch. Always keep unused Marzipan well wrapped in plastic wrap.

4. Wrap the sheet tray with the assembled Petit Four Cake in plastic wrap and then press a second sheet tray on top of the first. Place the compressed Petit Four Cake in the refrigerator with weight on top (e.g. bottles, cans, etc.) Let the compressed Petit Four Cake set and chill overnight (or at least four hours).

5. After the Petit Four Cake has set and chilled, cut it into 1" squares - approximately 40 in total.

Chef's Note: Use a sharp knife and a ruler for clean and precise cuts. Wipe the knife with after each cut.

6. Arrange the individual Petits Fours on a wire cooling rack with adequate space between pieces. Place the wire cooling rack over a parchment lined sheet tray to catch the excess Poured Fondant, which can be collected and reused.

7. Warm and thin the Poured Fondant with Simple Syrup (i.e. 50/50 mix of Sugar and Water) to the appropriate consistency. Transfer the Poured Fondant to a pastry bag with no tip. Cut a large enough hole in the pastry bag so that you are able to easily coat each Petit Four quickly and in a single pass, paying particular care to glaze the corners and edges. As the Poured Fondant begins to set, move each Petits Four slightly to prevent a "foot" of excess Glaze from forming.

Chef's Note: Poured Fondant should be heated to no greater than 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). The Poured Fondant should the thin enough to pour easily and leave a nearly translucent covering on the Petits Fours.

8. Once the Poured Fondant is mostly set, decorate the Glazed Petits Fours with Royal Icing or Chocolate.


Storage:
The Glazed Petits Fours will keep for several days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature. The Glazed Petits Fours can also be refrigerated in an airtight container for over a week but should always be served at room temperature.


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