Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours

Ah yes, here we are at Valentine’s Day, once again. Back when I was younger, I remember February 14th as being either a day of great excitement or a total downer (a.k.a Singles Awareness Day). Now that I’m older and somewhat wiser, I’m glad to have developed an enlightened perspective: it’s simply the day that helps florists stay in business before Mother’s Day finally arrives! Gotta love the wisdom that comes with age.

I’ve told my hubby this year that all he needs to do to make me a happy gal is to give me a hand-written love note. No flowers, no baubles, just the a note that I can look back at someday and smile. In return, I’ll present him with these Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours, a gift that we both can benefit from. That’s the thing about V-Day…even if there’s no handsome prince or lovely lady in the picture, you’ve gotta find a way to treat yourself right!
These Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours may look complicated to make, but I take a huge short cut by starting with store-bought pound cake. Pound cake is ideal for making petit fours since the crumb is tight and the vanilla base easily pairs with so many gorgeous flavors, from fruit jams to best-quality cocoa powder to infused booze (framboise and hazelnut liquor are my favorites!).glazed chocolate petit fours 2Since I hate running into problems with tempering chocolate, I like to either use a ganache or chocolate glaze to coat my petit fours. If you like a less-sweet petit four that’s still rich in chocolate taste, I’d definitely suggest going for the second option of a gelatin-based chocolate glaze. As you can see, it dries super glossy and smooth. It’s also easier to work with than regular chocolate is.
Another tip for making petit fours is to make sure you have some mini cupcake liners to serve them in. Creating these little cakes can be a messy affair, especially since the excess coating has to drip off. Cupcake liners help to hide a rough bottom edge so that the cakes look as elegant as possible.

A tart, ruby-red cup of hibiscus tea is my drink of choice when it comes to these Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours. You can also turn up the romance with Wedgwood’s 1870 Golden Rose or T-Project’s I’ll Take You There tea blends. And with that I’d like to wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s hoping that it’s one filled with substance, heart, and a healthy dose of chocolate!

Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours

Makes 20 petit fours.

Ingredients:

1 standard pound cake loaf, store-bought is fine

1/4 cup framboise

1/4 cup raspberry jam, seedless and sieved to remove chunky bits

3.5 oz. marzipan

cornstarch, for rolling marzipan

heart-shaped sprinkles

white nonpareils 

{Chocolate Glaze}

1/3 cup water

1 Tbsp+ 2 tsp unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup best-quality cocoa powder, sifted

2 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment:

serrated knife

ruler

oval-shaped petit four cutter

work surface

spreading knife

rolling-pin

pastry brush

small bowl

medium pot

wooden spoon

dipping or regular fork

1 small ladle

cooling rack

large sheet pan fitted with parchment paper

kitchen tweezers

small sharp knife or thin cookie spatula

20 mini cupcake liners

Directions:

1.)  Prepare the Pound Cake. On a work surface using a serrated knife, cut the pound cake loaf into horizontal, large slices, about 8 1/2 ” x 4 1/2″ x 3/8″ thick. Now, use the oval petit four cutter to cut out as many ovals as possible from the flat, even cake slices (save the topmost, golden crust of the pound cake for snacking on later). You should be able to punch out 60 ovals from one standard pound cake loaf.

2.)  Flavor and Layer the Cake Slices. Brush each cake oval with a light and even dab of framboise or flavoring liquor. You want the cake to be moist without drenching it. After all the cake ovals are moistened, use a spreading knife to apply a thin, even layer of jam on each oval. Stack the cake ovals up, neatly, 3 to a stack. Place the 20 cake stacks on a large plate and put them in fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.

3.)  Roll and Attach the Marzipan. While the cake stacks are chilling, roll the marzipan to 1/16″, about the thickness of a quarter. If the marzipan is sticky, you can use some cornstarch to dust the work surface and your rolling-pin. Punch out 20 ovals of marzipan with the same oval petit four cutter. Take the cakes out of the fridge, then lay one marzipan piece on each cake stack. Place the cakes back in the fridge to chill.

4.)  Prepare the Chocolate Glaze. In a small bowl, bloom the gelatin powder with the 1/3 cup of water. In a medium pot, heat the sugar, cream, and cocoa powder over low heat. Stir the mixture until it starts to simmer. Shut the heat off, then add the bloomed gelatin and vanilla extract. Continue to mix until the glaze is thick and glossy, without any gelatin lumps.

5.)  First Coating. Take the cakes out of the fridge. Holding a fork over the pot with your left hand, use your right hand to place one cake on the dipping fork. Again, use your right hand to use the small ladle to pour the glaze on over the cake so that it becomes entirely enrobed in the glaze. Let the excess glaze drip off the cake, then transfer it to a cooling rack placed over a large baking sheet fitted with parchment. Repeat this process for the rest of the petit fours.

6.)  Second Coating and Decoration. For best looks and taste, coat each petit four a second time in the glaze using the same fork and ladle method in Step 5. Immediately after each transferring each petit four to the cooling rack, use kitchen tweezers to carefully place the heart-shaped sprinkle and 3 dots on the cakes. The cakes cool fast so if you do not decorate after each coating the sprinkles will not adhere. If the pot of glaze starts to cool and gets too thick, simply put it back on low heat to thin it out again.

7.)  Finish the Petit Fours. After all the petit fours have been double-coated and decorated, let them cool for about 20 minutes before using a sharp knife or thin cookie spatula to release them from the cooling rack. Place them in mini cupcake liners for easy serving. The cakes should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

Quilted Petit Fours

Have you ever heard of the children’s book, Le Petit Prince? I hadn’t paid much attention to it until just a few weeks ago, when my very good friend asked me to create a celebratory cake for her sister’s baby shower.

Today’s recipe for Quilted Petit Fours are the miniature version of the Petit Prince cake that I created last weekend. The cake recipe is adapted from Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake recipe, which works great for regular sized cakes or, in this case, one half-sheet pan cake. The texture of this cake is light and fluffy, and yet it keeps a tight crumb, which makes it ideal for making petit fours.

The key to getting your petit fours to look distinctively French is to use food coloring in shades of pale pastel, very sparingly. Here, I’m using a blue food coloring named Delphinium Blue, a shade very much like a color you’d find on a box of tea at Ladurée in Paris.

Luxurious gold dragées are placed on the points where diagonally scored lines on the fondant intersect. By lightly piercing each intersection with a toothpick, the large gold sprinkles will easily tuck into the fondant to create a tufted diamond pattern. The softer the frosting under the fondant, the more pooufy the pattern will look.And here is a glimpse of the cake that inspired today’s recipe for Quilted Petit Fours. The double layered cake was frosted with strawberry buttercream before being covered with fondant. The asteroid (middle) part of the cake was made from moulded rice crispy treat, which was also covered in fondant and then sprayed with edible gold dust. Finally, the cake board was covered in gold sprinkles for an extra dose of glitter and glam. With the use of some small cupcake liners, I placed some of these same sprinkles at the base of my petit fours for a similar effect.

Petit Prince himself was made entirely of fondant held together with toothpicks. I gave him a glossy finish by painting him with a mixture of corn syrup and clear colored framboise (raspberry liquor). People remarked that at first glance, he looked like a plastic toy…what do you think?

If I muster up the energy to, I’ll have to do a tutorial for how to build fondant figurines some day soon. It’s a process that requires a bit of improvisation and an incredible amount of patience, but it’s also highly rewarding if you can get it right.

And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.  

-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

If you haven’t ever read Le Petit Prince, I highly recommend it. Above all, Le Petit Prince reminds us to stay child-like, open-minded, and with a full spirit of inquisitiveness. The drawings in the book are simple yet elegant, which was the look I was going for with these Quilted Petit Fours. Serve these fancy cakelets with Harney & Sons’ Paris black tea, a blend that’s fruity, flowery, and distinctively feminine.

I’m dedicating today’s post to all the lovely ladies that I met at the shower this past weekend, and to one special person in particular–the positively glowing and radiant mommy-to-be…Congratulations Jen!!

French Quilted Petit Fours 

Makes 12 large petit fours.

Ingredients:

{Cake- Adapted from Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake Recipe}

2 1/2 large egg whites

1/2 whole egg

1/2 cup whole milk

1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp ground vanilla beans

1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted

1 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1 Tbsp pieces, chilled

non-stick spray

{Strawberry Frosting- Adapted from Patty Nguyen’s Strawberry Buttercream Recipe}

1 stick butter

3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 oz freeze-dried strawberries, ground into a fine powder in a spice grinder

1 Tbsp milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 tsp lemon juice

pinch salt

{Decoration}

24 oz. white fondant

Delphinium Blue food coloring

4 mm gold dragées

Equipment:

large half sheet pan fitted with parchment

medium bowl

stand mixer with paddle attachment

large rubber spatula

off-set cake spatula

toothpicks

cooling rack

rolling-pin

2 1/4″ round cookie cutter

disposable, food safe gloves

quilting tool or knife

ruler

spice grinder

Directions:

1.)  Make the Cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray sheet pan and parchment evenly with non-stick spray. Mix together 2 Tbsp of milk, egg whites, egg, and vanilla extract in a medium bowl, then set aside. Place all dry cake ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, then mix on lowest setting for 30 seconds. Add butter, one Tbsp at a time, every 10 seconds to create a sandy mixture. Add the milk, then continue to mix on low for 5 minutes, occasionally using a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides to make sure everything is mixing evenly. Add the liquid egg mixture in 3 additions, waiting for the batter to mix evenly before adding the next batch. Mix for 4 minutes, until the batter is light and evenly mixed. Pour batter into large baking sheet, then smooth the batter out evenly with an offset spatula. Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes or until the top is light golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. When the cake is done, take it out and let it cool for a few minutes, then invert onto a large cooling rack until it cools completely.

2.)  Make the frosting. Cream butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the sifted powdered sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, milk, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt, then mix until evenly incorporated. Grind the freeze-dried strawberries in a spice grinder and immediately add the fine powder into the frosting mixture. Scrape the sides of bowl down periodically to make sure all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.

3.)  Assemble the cake. Using round cookie cutter, punch out rounds of cake. Frost the top of 2 rounds with a thin, even layer of frosting. Stack one frosted round on top of another frosted round, then top this with an unfrosted round to create a stack of 3 cake layers. Repeat this process to create 12 cake stacks, then frost all 12 stacks completely with a thin layer of frosting. Frost the top and the sides of the cylinder-like petit fours, then set them aside.

4.)  Prepare Fondant. Use a toothpick to smear 2 large dabs of food coloring into the fondant. With gloved hands, start stretching and pulling the fondant to create a pale, evenly colored pastel blue fondant. Roll the fondant out to a 1/16″ thickness. Cut out 12-6 1/2″ round circles of the fondant, one for each cakelet. Use the quilting tool to create diagonal lines on each fondant piece. If you prefer, use a ruler to get evenly spaced lines.

5.)  Finish the Petit Fours. Place one piece of fondant on each cake stack smoothing the top and sides down with your fingers. Cut off any excess fondant around the base of the petit four by using a sharp knife to go around the base. Use a toothpick to pierce a small hole in each intersection where the diagonal lines meet. Push one dragée into each pierced hole. Repeat this process for all 12 petit fours. These are best served within a day or two. Store in the fridge in a bakery box or in slightly vented tupperware until ready to serve.

Chocolate Surprise Eggs

I’ve been working overtime this week trying to punch out some faux-Kinder Eggs for my niece, Maddy, just in time for Easter Sunday.  A few weeks ago, I went to visit my sister (Maddy’s mom) and she started telling me that Maddy was obsessed with this YouTube video featuring Kinder Eggs.  I didn’t even know what a Kinder Egg was!  A few minutes later my sister pulled up the video and sure enough my niece sat mesmerized, content, and glued to the screen.

Kinder eggs are hollow chocolate eggs filled with a toy of some sort.  When you crack open the eggshell, the inner treasure is revealed.  They aren’t available here in the US, which one of the reasons why Maddy can’t get her hands on any.

My Chocolate Surprise Eggs are a slightly more elegant version of Maddy’s beloved Kinder Eggs, stuffed with edible (and drinkable!) treats instead of juvey plastic toys.  No Mickey Mouse or Peppa Pig figurines here,except if I am making them for my niece!

My mini Marzipan Veggies are ideal for stuffing into these Chocolate Surprise Eggs.  Perfect for a Springtime or Easter themed party, you can place the marzipan piece in the chocolate shell and seal the shells together to create a true Kinder-like egg that rattles inside. Another option is to serve them up like little petit fours, on a half eggshell.

Fill them with honeyed, toasted unsweetened coconut for a no fuss, tasty way to showcase the bright and delicate Marzipan Veggies.  Cover them with another half eggshell so that your guests can take part in revealing what’s inside!

An extra step you can take to make the chocolate eggs super fancy is by propping them up on cookies sifted with a bit of matcha powder to create a mossy-looking base.  You can “glue” the shell to the cookie base with a glob of almost set melted chocolate.  If the melted chocolate you are using is too warm, the eggshell won’t want to sit upright and may actually start to melt.  So, plant your half eggshell onto tacky, almost set chocolate.  The petit fours will sit up at a pretty viewing angle this way.

Tea balls make a beautiful trinket to place into the hollow chocolate eggs.  These tightly wound balls of tea actually become beautiful terrarium looking plants when they bloom in hot water. The tea leaves are hand strung with a cotton thread to form a blooming tea flower, also called a Petit Bouquet.  If you are having an afternoon tea with friends, make lots of these eggs and allow each guest one egg to crack open just in time for tea to start. One tea ball per pot of tea!

Chambre de Sucre makes the most gorgeous variety of molded sugars that would also make whimsical treats to place inside of the eggs.  I just love their Sucre Rond and Hana Flower Sugars.  They elevate any tea drinking experience to the next level of loveliness.

I’ve meant to experiment with edible gold leaf for the longest time.  Instead of dishing out the money for real edible gold leaf, I bought this $5 bottle of gold cake decorating spray to play around with.  I was quite happy with the results, as the spray gave off a light, even mist of gold coloring to my eggs.  Just the right touch of glamor to make the eggs stand out.

Make this Easter unforgettable with some homemade Chocolate Surprise Eggs this year! The best technique for making them is to have a bit of patience, a temperature controlled room, and some clever ideas for trinkets to stuff inside.  Tea, gourmet sugars, marzipan candies…with Surprise Eggs the possibilities are endless!

Chocolate Surprise Eggs

Ingredients:

chocolate candy melts

edible gold food spray (optional)

Equipment:

chocolate egg molds

small flat tip food safe decorating brush

knife and cup of hot water (to smooth edges of eggshell)

flat frying pan (if you want to seal the 2 halves of the egg together to make 1 whole egg)

For the Petit Fours:

chocolate candy melts

1 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut, toasted

6 Tbsp honey

cocoa powder, for dusting inside of eggs (optional)

flat round cookies of your choice (I used Famous Chocolate Wafers)

matcha, for dusting atop cookie (optional)

Marzipan Veggies

Directions:

1.)  Melt the chocolate melts in the microwave or atop a double boiler according to the package directions.  Place about 1 tsp of the melted chocolate in each egg cavity.  Use a decorating brush to evenly distribute the chocolate in the egg molds.

2.)  Let this first layer of chocolate set.  For faster results, you can place them in the fridge to harden.

3.)  When the first layer has completely set, apply a second rounded tsp of the melted chocolate.  Use the brush to apply the 2nd layer of chocolate evenly in the mold.

*** Variation:  For Sealed Chocolate Eggs:   With 2 completely set half eggshells (best to have left them in the fridge for 10 minutes to chill completely), place both shells edge down on a flat pan placed on low, even heat.  Allow edges to melt for a few seconds.  Pick up one eggshell and swiftly place a Marzipan Veggie or other trinket inside this half eggshell.  Pick up the other shell and place both melted edges of each half shell together to seal.  For best results, work fast!

4.  Let the second layer completely harden, then slip the shells out of the molds.  I wanted to dust the inside of the shells with cocoa powder here for my Petit Fours, but this is totally optional.  Use a knife dipped in hot water, then wiped dry to smooth over the edges of the eggshell.

5.)  Mix the toasted coconut with the honey and stuff about 1 1/2 Tbsp of this sweetened coconut into each chocolate shell, then a Marzipan Veggie on top.

6.)  Sift some matcha powder atop each cookie.

7.)  Add a dollop of melted chocolate atop each matcha-dusted cookie and allow for it to almost fully set.

8.)  Place the filled and marzipan-topped half chocolate eggshell on top of the almost set dollop of chocolate.  Hold it in place with the back of a spoon for a few moments to allow for it to set.  Your Chocolate Eggshell Petit Four is complete!