Friday, May 29, 2009

Petit Fours and A Memorial Day Picnic

Last weekend I had a delightful adventure making petit fours with my friend Becca. She is a big fan of these small treats and had always wanted to make them. 

Earlier last week Woodley and I had hoped to fly up to Bellingham for the weekend, but we delayed too long and couldn't get tickets. Similarly, Becca also had weekend plans that fell through leaving us both with a blank long weekend. We decided to put our time to good use making petit fours for a Memorial Day picnic on Monday. Little did we realize what we were in for!

As it turns out, petit fours are amazingly complicated to make and we spent at least 20 hours over the course of 3 days making ours. (Mostly that was probably my fault because I had so much fun making the cake for the first batch that I suggested we make 2 other kinds. Silly me!)

I don't have too many pictures of the process yet because they are still on Becca's camera, but I'll post more later. In the meantime, here's the petit four making process, in a nutshell (We used the Joy of Cooking for our recipes): 

1. Bake a fairly complicated cake in a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. (we made a Milk Sponge Cake, a Chocolate Genoise Cake, and a White Lady Cake). When the cake comes out of the oven, cover the top with aluminum foil and flip it over 180 degrees as you remove it from the pan so that the parchment paper is at the top and the foil is at the bottom. Allow the cake to cool. 

2. Carefully remove the parchment paper and aluminum foil from the cooled cake. As you peel it of, you should remove the dark brown layer from the top and bottom of the cake. Cut the cake into 3 equal sized pieces. 

3. Brush the bottom two pieces of cake with jelly (or another filling of your choice, we used raspberry jelly and rhubarb orange jelly). If you are using a Genoise Cake you should also brush the layers with moistening syrup before applying the jelly filling. Stack the 3 layers on top of each other. 

4. Cover the cake with saran wrap, top with a baking pan, fill the pan with as many canned goods as will fit, and stick the whole stack in the refrigerator to compact. (I found this step very amusing because the cakes that we had just taken such pains to make light and fluffy were then squished overnight to remove any extra lightness an air.)

5. Remove the compacted cakes from the refrigerator and remove the saran wrap. Brush the top layer with jelly filling and cover with a 1/8th inch layer of marzipan. 

6. Cut the petit fours into 1x1 inch squares. 

7. Make a glaze topping to be used to cover the petit fours. (We had some trouble with this but ended up making 3 different types of glazes, a bittersweet chocolate glaze, a fondant glaze, and a white chocolate glaze. They all tasted very unique and different.)

8. Glaze the petit fours by dribbling the liquid glaze over them or by dipping them into a big bowl of glaze using chop sticks (I used the later method and it worked quite well). Allow the petit fours to drip and dry on a cooling rack. 

9. Decorate the petit fours as you wish. (We used a sliver of almond for some and ball candy decorations for others.)

9. Eat them right away or refrigerate for later. 

Whew!!! I sincerely doubt I will attempt those again unless I someday have a little girl who really really really wants to learn to make them for a tea party.

We also decided to make some tea sandwiches for our tea party picnic. We made: Smoked Salmon Pinwheels, Egg Salad Sandwiches, Cucumber Sandwiches, and Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches. 

Here I am preparing the Smoked Salmon Pinwheels. I rolled out a large piece of white bread to flatten it, spread it with cream cheese, and am now covering it with watercress leaves before adding the salmon and a dash of lemon juice:

Here are the curried chicken salad sandwiches in the making:

Woodley helped us get some nice tiered serving trays (from Target). They worked perfectly for serving the sandwiches and petit fours!

A big beautiful tray of petit fours!

At the picnic:

Here's a close up of the Lady Cake Petit Fours filled with either Raspberry Jelly or Rhubarb Orange Jelly and glazed with Fondant Icing. 

Here are the Chocolate Genoise Cake Petit Fours filled with Raspberry Jelly and covered with a Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze.

And here, on the left, are the Milk Sponge Cake Petit Fours filled with Raspberry Jelly and covered with a White Chocolate Glaze. 

All the petit fours tasted amazingly rich and delicious so we considered all our hard work a big success. And it was such a perfect day for a picnic!!



  1. Ok, can you share the ganache recipe - I've made petits fours a few times, but the objective I want to achieve and can't is to cover the entire petits four in glaze/icing. I made them for a baby shower and then for a tea party baby shower. Very fun! When I dipped them, it was too hard to cover them completely, they looked pretty in the end, but I wanted that beautiful glistening fondant type look to them...

    You might want to try the cake recipe I've tried, it's very easy. ;-)

  2. Hi Jenn!

    Thanks so much for sharing your recipe! I'll definitely have to check that one out. I love baking cakes!

    Woodley and I just flew up to Bellingham this evening so I don't have my ganache recipe with me at the moment, but I'll send it to you (or post it here) as soon as we get home next Thursday. Did you want the chocolate one, the fondant one, or the white chocolate one? I think the chocolate and the fondant ones worked out best. The white chocolate was still really sticky even after awhile.

  3. The chocolate and fondant would be great!! Thank you...and enjoy the PNW!

  4. Yum! I've used that Milk sponge cake recipe before to make the christmas log things... they have a fancy french name... Anyways - I wish I could come over and cook with you!

  5. Woow! It looks so good! Thanks for the recipe!