Petit Four Your Thoughts!

13 Jun

This week on Dueling Bakers we decided to get a little fancy schmancy and create Petis Fours! On the surface, Petis Fours are super cute and girlie (like us!) but let’s learn a little history! Traditionally Petis Fours (singular: Petit Four) are small desserts, typically cake, eclairs, tarlets, etc. Petit Four is French for “small oven”. The name dates back to the 18th century when bakers would use the heat left over in brick ovens from baking large cakes to bake the small ones.

Petis Fours can also be broken down into two categories: sec and glacés. Petis Fours Sec refers to dry pastries such as biscuits, meringues, and macaroons. Once baked, these pastries rarely have anything extra added and are most often served with afternoon tea or ice cream. Petis Fours Glacés means iced and includes desserts such as cakes and eclairs. Petis Fours Glacés can be filled with cream or jam and may be iced or covered in fondant.

Whew! Now that the nerdy part is over, let’s get to our recipes!

The guidelines for this duel are as follows:

  • Moistness of cake – 10 points.
  • Flavor of cake – 15 points
  • Flavor of icing – 15 points
  • Flavor of filling – 10 points
  • Proportion of filling to cake – 10 points
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 10 points
  • Ease of eating – 10 points
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 20 points

It’s Andrea! Petis Fours are charming and delicate. I’m also of the opinion that anything in miniature is just plain fun! But to make them…that’s a different story. I decided to go with this recipe on Bakingdom. I thought these petis fours looked delicious and this was one of the easier recipes I found.

I made the chocolate sponge cake on Friday night and used the simple syrup to lock in moisture. The cake was simple enough and I had no issue with prep or baking.

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish the petis fours until Sunday afternoon, but I hoped the simple syrup would do its job. This is also the point where the recipe got confusing. I would like to preface this by saying I read through the entire recipe several times before I started, but it wasn’t until I started the frosting/icing portions that I realized there was a problem.

I got confused by the author using both “frosting” and “icing” interchangeably, but for different aspects of the cake. (For example, “Spoon the icing over the tops of the cakes, allowing it to run down the sides. Spoon more frosting onto the sides, as needed”, when previously she used “frosting” to mean filling, and not the poured icing, “I chose to keep it simple with a vanilla frosting that I could also top the cake with…”). I ended up not making the vanilla buttercream, only the icing, or poured fondant.

I was under the impression that this was going to be the only icing/frosting used. After making it, I realized this couldn’t be the case. My icing was also really thin, which is a problem a few commenters also faced. I followed Darla’s advice to make it thicker and it improved it a little. I could only get the icing to adhere to the cake after 5 or 6 coats, which made the cake almost unbearably moist. It’s impossible to say how the buttercream would have affected the taste, due to the amount of icing I had to use. I would be afraid that the buttercream combined with the extra icing would be entirely way too sweet. I will say that these tasted very good, even if the texture was less than desirable.

Krista and I spoke at length about where either I or the recipe went wrong and decided to take all of the points away from the filling categories to compensate for the poorly written recipe.

  • Moistness of cake – 5/10 points- Way TOO moist.
  • Flavor of cake – 13/15 points- The flavor was actually pretty great.
  • Flavor of icing – 10/15 points- The icing wasn’t so good by itself, but it complimented the cake every well.
  • Flavor of filling – 0/10 points
  • Proportion of filling to cake – 0/10 points
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 7/10 points- I used all of the icing, but I also had to cover the cakes more times than the recipe called for.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points- No problems with them breaking or falling apart.
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 15/20 points- Obviously, recipes like this are going to be more time consuming, but I think this one would’ve gone a lot smoother had it been better written.

I think this is a decent recipe, but that it was poorly written. Different parts of the cake should consistently be called the same name to avoid confusion. For that reason, this recipe rated: 60/100.

Krista here and the recipe I chose was found here. I wanted to try the full-fledge- petit four recipe using frangipane cake because it was noted in several recipes I looked at as the type of cake used by “professional cake artisans”. They didn’t state how unbelievably almond this stuff was. Yuck-o for me, yum-o says hubs. I didn’t have any major issues with recipe- the person who wrote this apparently was a lot more capable of sharing recipes.

Almond paste- weird stuff that is. It came in a can and it was in 4 little columns in the can. The recipe was pretty simple after the strange ingredients, except that it was in ounces. Not really a problem, but most recipes will show cup/tablespoon/teaspoon ratios instead of ounces.

  • Moistness of cake – 9/10 The cake was very moist- but it was dense which is different from other types of petis fours I have had in the past
  • Flavor of cake – 12/15 points It was very almondy, which it was supposed to be but it’s too much in my opinion.
  • Flavor of icing – 13/15 points The icing is basically just powdered sugar in glaze form- it’s not bad, but it’s not anything to write home about.
  • Flavor of filling – 9/10 points I used a red raspberry jam for the filling and it went well with the cake.
  • Proportion of filling to cake – 9/10 points It was plenty to compliment the cake and add a different flavor.
  • Proportion of icing to cake – 9/10 points Plenty of icing, even had some left over.
  • Ease of eating – 10/10 points Pop ’em in and chew! Done. 🙂
  • Ease of preparation/baking – 16/20 points For an intense recipe this wasn’t so bad. The almond paste was the weirdest part but there wasn’t anything crazy past that. The icing texture changed each time I had to heat it to get it ready for glaze so that is really where the points were lost.

Over all the thing I would change would be the cake. Next time I will make yellow, white or sponge cake for these guys but will probably still use the same glaze just make it in smaller batches to avoid the texture issues toward the end. This cake rated: 87.


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