Thursday, November 14, 2013

Petit Four Assembly and Cookbook Giveaway

Owner of Dragonfly Cakes Brooks Coulson Nguyen encourages bakers like me who have never attempted petit fours to give them a try. Find recipes from the book for all-occasion petit fours in my previous post. Read on for step-by-step directions for assembling petit fours, and don't leave without registering to win a copy of this colorful and inspiring book.

Petit Four Preparation

The process of making petit fours is best if it is spread out over two days. Some items can be made in advance. Petit fours are time-consuming to prepare, but the end result will have your friends "oohing" and "ahhing" over your creations.

These tasks can be done ahead of time:

• Baking the cake
• Making the fillings
• Making the syrup
• Making the marzipan
• Making the cutout decorations

Plan ahead, and you’ll find that each step for making petit fours is not challenging on its own.
There are simply multiple steps. Here is the schedule I suggest:

Day 1:
• Cut out the decorations (can also be made weeks in advance).
• Bake the cake.
• Make the custard, buttercream and fillings (most can be made in advance).
• Fill and layer the cake.
• Cover the cake in marzipan (then refrigerate for at least 3 hours; can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month).

Day 2:
• Cut the cake into shapes.
• Coat the cakes in the chocolate coating mixture and modeling chocolate.
• Add decorations.


After deciding on a flavor combination, bake the cake and make the filling. To assemble the
petit fours, follow these steps:

• Remove the dark brown cake bloom (the dark layer on top of a cake after it is baked) with a serrated bread knife.
• Slice the cake horizontally into 2 even layers with a serrated bread knife. Gently move the top layer to the side and reserve. If you are making the Vanilla Sponge Cake or the Chocolate Sponge Cake, recipes in The Petit Four Cookbook that are baked in 3 shallow pans, you can skip this step.

• Brush a thin layer of soaking syrup onto the first layer of cake with a pastry brush.
• Spread a thin layer of jam or lemon curd onto the first layer of cake, approximately 1⁄8 inch thick. Then spread 1⁄8 inch of buttercream on top of the jam or curd, or on top of the cake itself if no jam or curd is being used. The jam, curd or buttercream should be thin enough that you can still see the cake through it.
• Top with the reserved cake layer.
• Spread another 1⁄8 inch of buttercream on top of the cake. The top layer of buttercream adheres the marzipan to the top of the cake.

• Using a rolling pin, roll out a thin layer of marzipan on a surface dusted with cornstarch. The marzipan should be 25 percent larger than your layered cake to cover the top of the entire cake (add ½ inch to each side of the marzipan when rolling out).
• Smooth the marzipan over the cake with your hand or a fondant smoother, if available.
• Refrigerate the assembled cake for at least 3 hours to let it set up. It can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator, up to a month in the freezer.

Cut the Cake:
• Cut the cake into shapes, such as squares, circles, hearts, or whatever you’d like, with a chef’s knife, petit four cutters or cookie cutters. As you decide on the shape, make sure that the cake pieces are as wide as they are tall. For example, if the cake is 1 1/2 inches high, then the shape needs to be at least 1 1⁄2 inches wide. If the petit four cake is taller than it is wide, it will appear as if it is tipping over. Place these cut cake pieces in the freezer on a cookie sheet, where they need a minimum of 1 hour to set, or store for up to 1 month in an airtight container. If storing for 1 day to 1 month, wrap the airtight container in plastic wrap to prevent the cake from absorbing foreign flavors.

• Prepare white or dark dipping chocolate. Place this glaze into a heatproof container that is at least 5 inches deep and 6 inches wide, like a medium glass bowl. The bowl needs to be deep enough that you can dip the cake into the coating and remove it quickly without touching the sides of the bowl.
• Take the cut petit four pieces out of the freezer. It is best to work in small batches, just 5 to 6 petit fours at a time. This will keep the cake pieces cold and the dipping chocolate warm.
Otherwise, the cake layers will separate and become difficult to work with. The chocolate should be warm to the touch, about 90 to 100 degrees; you can measure the temperature with a candy thermometer. If the chocolate is hot to the touch, it will melt the buttercream in between the cake layers. Cool by stirring until it is only warm to the touch.
• Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and get two kitchen forks ready. Use one fork to quickly dip one petit four at a time into the glaze, marzipan side up. Completely submerge the cake into the glaze, remove quickly, and then tap off the excess glaze. (Be careful because the warm glaze can melt the buttercream if submerged too long.) Use the second fork to gently push the petit four onto the parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Once the glaze is dry, 3 to 4 minutes, cut off the excess glaze with a knife. Place each petit four into a candy cup (a small decorative paper cup).
• Extra dipping chocolate can be strained through a mesh strainer and used for another batch of petit fours.


• Petit fours can be decorated with cutout decorations made from modeling chocolate. Another alternative is to finish the petit fours with decorating chocolate. Any leftover decorating chocolate should be discarded.


• Assembled, decorated petit fours can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. It is best to store them in a plastic container and then wrap the container in plastic wrap to prevent the cakes from absorbing the refrigerator’s odors.

To register for a giveaway of a copy of The Petit Four Cookbook by Brooks Coulson Nguyen, leave separate comments for each entry you choose.

(1) For what occasion would you make or serve petit fours?
(2) Follow A Little Loveliness (find the link on my sidebar).
(3) Like ALL on Facebook.
(4) Add my badge to your blog (HTML code found on my sidebar).
(5) Follow publisher Ulysses Press on Facebook or Twitter.

I will announce the winner soon!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin