Monday, February 18, 2008

Valentine's Petit Fours

My husband and I are not big Valentine's Day celebrators. There is no way we'll regularly go out to eat on the big day o' love- it's too expensive, too crowded, and not tasty enough. Plus I like to cook, and our schedules are hectic, so we just do our own thing. It's now the 18th and we have yet to have our "fancy" dinner of homemade pasta- it's just too much effort.

I got him a lovely card, and he got me an equally lovely card and the requested heart box of chocolates. It was delightful! Otherwise, it was just another day in our neighborhood. The previous evening however, my handbell choir rehearsal had been cancelled and I suddenly had time on my hands... why not try something new just in time to share with folks for Valentines!

And so I set about to trying my hands at petit fours, those delightful mini cakes with lots of layers and pretty decorations. I used my Betty Crocker cookbook to help me with the sponge cake, however I wish I had used the Paula Deen recipe I had used recently with the jelly roll. Paula's was moister than Betty's. I then used whatever I had around the house to fill and decorate, and made a mediocre looking, very tasty ganache to coat eat cake.

They were easier than I thought, though it still took me hours to complete the whole thing, especially since I had to interupt the works to make hubby dinner. Like I said, the cake could have been moister, and the ganache could have been thicker/ shinier, but all in all they were a success. And they're just so darn CUTE! I ended up with all chocolate (the ones with the mint leaves), peanut butter (the ones with the white chocolate swirls), and raspberry jams (the marachino cherry ones!)

Petit Fours

Sponge Cake
From Betty Crocker's Cookbook

  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 C. Sugar
  • 1/3 C. Water
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • Fillings- Chocolate, Jams, Peanut Butter, Pudding, Fruit, Curd, etc
  • Flavored Syrups (optional)- Kahlua, Simply Syrup, Grenadine, Flavored Liquers, etc
  • Chocolate Ganache for coating (see below)
  • Garnishes- Candied fruit, Chocolate shavings, Melted white chocolate, Mint leaves, etc

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a medium sized jelly roll/ high sided cookie sheet pan.
  2. Whip eggs in a mixer bowl until thick and lemon colored. Add in sugar, vanilla, and water and mix on medium until smooth.
  3. Slowly add in flour, baking powder, and salt and blend until batter it is just moist and consistent.
  4. Pour onto the greased sheet and spread to the corners.
  5. Bake in hot oven for 12-15 minutes until it is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. When cake comes out of the oven, let it sit for just a minute or two. Then carefully remove the sheet of a cake to a cooling rack. When cool to the touch, transfer to a cutting board. Cut off hard edges and discard (or eat!)
  7. Now the hard part... You have to decide if there are sections of your sheet cake that are thick enough to slice in half or more. The fancy part about petit fours are the many thin layer acheived by slicing and stacking cake. I had about a third that was too thin to slice, so I set it aside. I then cut the rest in half using a serrated knife, and a gentle but firm hand. I was even able to cut portions of this sliced section in half again- which made for pretty cakes.
  8. Once you have your layers ready to go, decide how many type of cakes you are going to make (I made 3) and allocate your sheets into layers. For example, I lined up my sheets to decide which sections lined up best for neat little towers. Then I cut those "towers" into 3 sections that I then filled.
  9. If using a syrup to moisten the sponge cake, use a pastry brush to coat the bottom layer with the liquid. Don't be afraid to be generous- everyone likes a moist, flavorful cake. I used Kahlua on the chocolate and PB ones, and Grenadine on the jam ones.
  10. Spread on the first layer of filling. (I used chocolate on them all.) Press the middle/ next cake layer on top.
  11. Repeat the liquid & filling then cake pressing until you have complete towers. I used all chocolate & Kahlua on one type; chocolate, PB, and a little Kahlua on another; and chocolate, black raspberry jam, red raspberry jam, and grenadine on the last.
  12. Once your layers are assembled, use a sharp and serrated knife to cut each individual cake. They should be no more than 2" x 2" wide, regardless of height.
  13. Each cake then needs to be coated with chocolate. I started by pouring the ganache on top, but it was going poorly. I decided to use my fingers and just dunk the entire cake into the bowl of ganache, turning to coat all sides including the bottom. I then placed them on a cooling rack with foil underneath to catch the drips.
  14. Decorate are you see fit, using as much creativity as you'd like, and then let sit to set for at least a half hour. Enjoy with a glass of milk or with good company!

Ganache Frosting
  • 1 C. Heavy Cream
  • 1 C. Chocolate Chips
  • Any flavorings you may want- vanilla, almond, Kahlua, etc

  1. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil.
  2. Place chocolate chips in a heat resistent bowl. When cream boils, pour it over the chocolate.
  3. Let the hot cream sit for a moment to melt the chips, then gently whisk until the mixture is smooth. If you desire to add any flavorings, gently mix is in after the chocolate is whisked.
  4. Let chocolate cool a little, but do not let it harden. Use to dip or pour on cakes.


Kate said...

Those look so fancy!

Jaime said...

wow, those are so cute!

~Amber~ said...

How cute, they are adorable. Great job.

Summer Parsons said...

Those look SO yummy! Absolutely adorable too! I wish I was that clever!