I have always loved the idea of Petit Fours: little multi-layer cakes that look like miniature iced gift boxes just waiting to reveal the secret of their delicious insides to whoever is lucky enough to bite into them.
Sensible people buy their Petit Fours but how many times have I told you that I am not a sensible person? I have been on a periodic Petit Four odyssey since high school when I would experiment in my mother’s kitchen. I had a willing and perennially hungry friend who would eat the rejects. I even tried my hand at making fondant, unsuccessfully I might add because I did not have a candy thermometer which my mother regarded as a mysterious scientific instrument not meant for everyday cooks. Still I had fun and my results were tasty even if they looked like the cat walked over them. I mean, butter, sugar and eggs? How can you go wrong? It’s like shooting Petit Fours in a barrel.
This time around, I got the bright idea that I was going to turn a recipe for Sicilian Cassata into Petit Fours. I should have known that there was a good reason I could not find a recipe for them on the Internet. I decided to develop my own. I started with one of the best recipes in the world: Sponge Cake courtesy of The Cake Boss. Believe me, the secret to making this case is beating the eggs as instructed in the recipe. See the top picture of the thick and lovely batter? That’s after beating the eggs!
I made the cake in a big cookie tray (16 X 24) lines with parchment. It baked up nicely. Now most Petit Four recipes tell you to slice the cake into layers, ice and fill the layers, and then to slice the whole thing into little squares. Not me. I cannot slice anything straight. You can hide wopperjawed layers, but not uneven cake sides.
So after I layered the cake (tip: cut the cake into small sections and cut into layers a section at a time. Easier than trying to slice a big cake into layers. And use a serrated knife.) I cut out little squares and stacked them with ricotta filling in between. Only it is impossible to make a ricotta filling for cakes this small because it does not hold its shape. So the filling was ricotta with LOTS of powered sugar. It was good, but not the same as Cassata filling.
I bought almond paste which I have never worked with and I had planned to use it between layers but I decided to top the cakes with squares of it instead.
Here are the naked cakes before glazing. The balls are made of the scraps mixed with the filling. I thought I could make some kind of truffle from these.
Glazing. Thank you 350 Degree Oven Blog for the broken fork trick!
I got the idea for the glaze from the Southern Fatty Blog
And this is the best I have ever done making Petit Fours, which means there is still time to screw it up!!
I was going to cover them with chocolate confectioner’s coating, but for the life of me I could not get it into a pourable state.
So I ended up topping each cake with a smidge of chocolate. I attempted to coat the “truffles” and they came out rather <ahem> rustic looking.
The Petit Fours were a hit at the party I took them to, but I have to confess that I skipped them in favor of the shrimp!