Sunday, August 8, 2010

Petit Fours (Blue Ribbon-Winning)

These little babies are delicious, but rather tedious to make. I've read about people making the cake in 9 x 5 loaf pans and slicing it, but I have not tried that. I did recently try making round cakes and using that, but it was wasteful--I had to end up make a couple of trifles, darn it! Anyway, I would highly recommend putting the cookie sheet on a turntable when you're pouring the fondant on them. That way, you can easily turn them round to see if they're covered on all sides. You can also use Nick Malgieri's Pound Cake to make delicious petit fours.

White Cake (from King Arthur Flour)
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 T baking powder
1 3/4 cup superfine sugar (granulated can be ground fine in food processor)
3/4 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup White Lily All-Purpose flour (or cake flour)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
4 large egg whites
1 large whole egg
1 cup full-fat plain yogurt (I prefer Stonyfield organic because it has a superior taste.)

1.      Preheat oven to 375F.
2.      Grease and flour a 12x18x1” jelly roll pan.
3.      Combine the dry ingredients, add the softened butter and mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
4.      Meanwhile, combine the wet ingredients.
5.      Add the liquid ingredients one-third at a time, beating on medium speed for 2 minutes after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl in-between each addition and at the end.
6.      Pour the batter in the pan and use an offset spatula to spread around evenly. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles, and bake for 10-15 minutes, till the cake springs back when touched.
7.      Let sit on cooling rack for 5 minutes. Place a piece of parchment paper over cake and turn it out onto a rack and then place another piece of parchment paper on the cake and another rack on top and flip them over. Let cool at least 1 hour.

22 T (2 3/4 sticks) salted butter, slightly softened
2/3 cup Crisco
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
5-7 T heavy cream
2 lb confectioners’ sugar
2 T corn syrup

1.      Cream butter and Crisco till smooth.
2.      With mixer on low, slowly add flavorings and 5 T cream.
3.      Stop mixer and scrape down the sides.
4.      With mixer on low, slowly stream in the confectioners’ sugar
5.      Add1 T corn syrup and 1-2 T cream if desired (depending on consistency, which is dependent on your environment). Mix on low.
6.      Add 1 more T corn syrup if desired. Mix on low till smooth and fluffy.

3/4 cup cream sherry
1.      Level cake.
2.      Divide cake into two by cutting down the middle, so that you have two ca. 12x9x1” pieces.
3.      Brush one piece of cake with sherry—just enough to taste, not to dampen cake.
4.      Spread a thin layer (ca. 1/4”) of buttercream on top of the sherry layer. Press lightly on the cake to make sure it seals with the bottom layer.
5.      Place the other cake layer on top of the one with the buttercream.
6.      Spread a thin layer (ca. 1/4”) of butter cream on top of the top cake layer.
7.      Let cake sit for 5-10 minutes so that a crust forms on the buttercream.
8.      Place a Viva paper towel on top of the cake and lightly rub your hand across it to smooth out the buttercream.
9.      Transfer the cake to a plate/cookie sheet and refrigerate overnight. (This is necessary to make the edges smooth when cut.)
10.  Remove the cake from the fridge and cut it into small pieces (ca. 1 1/2” x 1 1/2” or 1 1/4” x 2”), wiping off the knife after each cut.
11.  Place the cakes on a cooling rack that has been set on top of a rimmed cookie sheet. Leave about 1 1/2" around each piece. Place another rimmed cookie sheet next to this one.
12.  Make the fondant icing.

Quick Fondant Icing (from Wilton)
6 cups (ca. 1 1/2 lbs.) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup water
2 T light corn syrup
1 tsp almond extract

1.      Combine water and corn syrup. Add to sugar in a saucepan and stir over low heat till well-mixed and heated to 92F. (If fondant is heated too high, it will lose its shine when it dries.) (I'm a nervous nelly, so I used a chocolate thermometer--it's quick and measures low temps.)
2.      Stir in extract and icing color, if desired.
3.      Pour fondant over cake, making sure all sides are covered. When pan is empty, move the cooling rack over to the other cookie sheet and scrape the fondant back into the pan. If there are any crumbs, pick them out with a knife or toothpick.
4.      Reheat icing—only to 92F. Continue as above.
5.      As soon as the cakes are dried, slide a thin metal spatula underneath them and transfer them to a parchment-lined cookie sheet for decorating.
6.      Decorate with buttercream icing, above.

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