Valentine Petits Fours

Valentine Petits Fours on Sheetpan

 

Cherry. Cranberry. Amaretto. Jam.

 

Nanabread's Cherry-Cranberry Jam

Jeanne’s extraordinary Cherry-Cranberry-Amaretto Jam.

Those four words brought my tweets to a screeching halt one day this past November. A Twitter conversation with my dear friend Jeanne at Inside Nanabread’s Head began a discussion which evolved into a delightful jelly swap over the holidays. The flavor profiles of the jam she mentioned were intriguing to me—I knew in an instant the pairing had to meld deliciously. I also knew in a heartbeat I had to have some of this jam for a very special someone. 

Mrs. W adores Amaretto liqueur. Every year at Christmas I present her with a bottle of the almond flavored cordial. She loves cherries and cranberries too. When the jam arrived it was everything I thought it would be, but to my wife it was congealed fruit perfection. The tart-sweet with a backbone hint of almond was exquisite. As much as I enjoyed the jam, I sensed my better half loved it more. Knowing I had a gold mine in a jar, I nudged the jellied loot towards the back of the fridge out of site. To quell any notions that I may be bogarting the preserve, I’d dole some out every now and again. Somehow, some way I had to keep a stash.

 

Crusting the Cake

I had a plan.

Cutting and filling the Cakes

I’m not wealthy in the wallet. But I’ve managed to make choices in nearly twenty-five years of marriage that have elicited priceless reactions of joy in the face of my beloved—reactions that leave me (and her) feeling like a million bucks. This I know: Thoughtful good intention is a gateway to a lady’s heart. And if the intention is a pretty taste treat, all the better.

 

Preparing the Glaze

 

Tomorrow evening after a specially prepared Valentine’s Day dinner at home, I’ll present these petits fours to my love…and I can hardly wait to see her smile!

 

Valentine Petits Fours

Valentine Petits Fours

Yield: Approximately 30, 1 1/2-inch cakes

Valentine Petits Fours

The tiny vanilla bean cakes are brushed with Amaretto liqueur and conceal a burst of fruit jam sandwiched inside. Enrobed in colorful glaze and adorned with candy violets, these delicious petit four gems will sparkle in the eyes of your valentine.

Ingredients

    Cake:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • Seed pulp scraped from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
  • 4 egg whites (may substitute equivalent of pasteurized liquid whites in a carton)
  • Icing:
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • Your choice of gel food colorings
  • Special Equipment/Other:
  • Candy or deep frying thermometer
  • Candy fork for dipping
  • Pastry brush
  • 1 ½-inch heart shaped cutter
  • Amaretto or other almond liqueur
  • Decorations or sprinkles of your choice
  • Patience

Instructions

    For the cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 13x9x2 baking pan, line the bottom with parchment, grease the paper and flour the pan; set aside. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together until combined. Add the flour mixture and the buttermilk. Stir on low speed until incorporated, beat on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the egg whites and beat on medium-high for 2 additional minutes. Scrape the bowl and stir the batter with the spatula. Transfer batter to prepared pan smoothing the top evenly. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick test from the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10-12 minutes; remove from pan leaving the parchment paper intact on the cake and cool completely.
  • Using a long sharp knife or cake leveler, slice the cake horizontally in half. Carefully separate the halves. Place the bottom piece onto a sheet pan. Place an equal sized piece of parchment or wax paper onto the exposed top of the bottom cake. Carefully replace the top half back onto the bottom piece; wrap in plastic and freeze for several hours or overnight.
  • Remove the cake from the freezer, unwrap and separate the halves placing them on a work surface. Let the cake sit for 5 minutes. Starting with the top piece of cake (with the browned top crust) and working quickly with clean hands, rub the surface using medium pressure with the balls of the fingertips until the brown crust pills and pulls away from the white cake underneath. Once an area is exposed, use the palm of the hand rubbing across the surface to remove the crust close to all the edges. Use a Knife to trim off the remnant crust at the surface edges. Cover this piece with plastic and return to the freezer. Repeat the crust removal procedure to the bottom side of the bottom piece; once cleaned, cover in plastic and return to the freezer. Taking one piece at a time from the freezer, cut heart shapes from the cakes. How the cuts are spaced from each piece will ultimately determine the yield of petits fours. One petit four is comprised of two pieces. For example if there are 52 hearts the yield will be 26 petit fours.
  • On half of the cakes place a dab of jam on the center of the heart; on the other halves brush Amaretto liqueur. Place the Amaretto sides down onto the jam halves; press firmly enough to seal the pieces together. Cover the cakes in plastic wrap; refrigerate for an hour.
  • Make the Icing:
  • For the icing, combine the sugar, water and cream of tartar in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a rapid boil stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved, 5 to 7 minutes. Clip the candy thermometer to the saucepan; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook the syrup until the temperature reaches 225˚F without stirring—gently swirl the pan if needed to wash down crystals from the sides, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Without stirring, cool at room temperature to 110˚F, about 1 hour. When the syrup cools to the desired temperature, add the vanilla. Stir in the powdered sugar with a whisk or spoon until the icing is smooth, lump-free and of good drizzling consistency. Divide the icing into bowls by the number of colors needed. Tint each bowl with gel food color to the desired shade.
  • Frost and decorate:
  • Have a cooling rack placed over a sheet pan ready to go. Balance a petit four on the tines of a candy fork. Holding the fork over the bowl of icing spoon the glaze over the top of the cake; allow it to cascade down all sides. Repeat if necessary until top and sides of the cake are completely coated. Let the bulk of the icing runoff drip back into the bowl; transfer the coated cake to the rack. If decorating with sprinkles, this is the best time to apply while the icing is still wet. Continue coating the rest of the cakes in the color choices. Allow the cakes to remain on the rack until they are set, 2 to 3 hours. The surface will be firm to the touch, shiny and slightly tacky. Gently remove the cakes from the racks (slide a knife under the cakes along the grates to help loosen) and place on a serving platter. Finish with decorations.

Notes

If you are using a chunky jam, pulverize it a bit in a food processor to smooth it out―it will allow the cake pieces to fit together nicely. Should the icing become too thick, thin by stirring in warm water, a few drops at a time. The icing may begin to crust in the bowl from exposure to air. Simply stir it in, or place a piece of plastic wrap on top, pressing it to the surface of the icing until ready to use. Don’t have the skill to pipe your own royal icing flowers? Cake decorating and party supply shops sell them ready made. The cake scraps are ideal to use for cake pops or add to a homemade ice cream recipe. Petits fours freeze beautifully in an airtight container. Thaw to room temperature before serving.

http://cakewalkr.com/valentine-petits-fours/

Valentine Petits Fours by Cakewalker

Comments

  1. Oh, Brooks…. you have no idea how much this means to me. Not only that you enjoyed my jam, but that it played a small role in such a beautiful expression of love for your sweet wife. It’s all so fabulous. She’s going to be blown away, as am I. These are beautiful. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Mrs. W!

    PS – Your coffee toffee was also hidden in the back of the fridge, along with your pepper jelly. Turns out I’m more of a hoarder than a sharer in certain situations.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Jeanne, thank you…Happy Valentine’s Day to you and TCP! There’s a lot to be said about hoarding—for in some cases sharing can be overrated. 😉

  2. Looks terrific, Brooks! The petits fours are lovely as well. You never cease to amaze. We’ll catch up soon.

  3. Brooks,
    Your Petit Fours are exquisite, and I’m sure that Mrs. W will love these, because you made them. Happy Valentines to both of you.

  4. Brooks, those are gorgeous! What a perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Much obliged Sheryl…looking forward to the evening meal. Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

  5. Oh, Brooks, these are just divine and so so lovely. I love the action shot photos. Not to peer pressure you, but I think that, judging from these photos, if you did a hangout, it would be so informative and helpful! Anyway, thank you for sharing these sweet little hearts!

    • Brooks Walker says:

      You’re welcome Kelly. Thank you for the lovely comment. BTW, I manage to do okay under pressure…you never know when a hangout might come your way. Happy Valentine’s Day!

  6. What a lovely and romantic gift. I cannot imagine anything but pure joy when you present these to your wife. I love amaretto! Beautifully done. Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Your kindness is apppreciated—thank you Debby. Make it a magnificent Valentine’s Day and enjoy some Amaretto. Cheers, neighbor!

  7. Oh, Brooks, they’re perfect! I love that you eased the jam out of sight and consciousness so you’d be able to make these for your beloved. That says so much about the two of you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

    • Brooks Walker says:

      Happy Valentine’s Day Christiane! In this regard, a sneaky intention was a good thing. My best to you & yours.

  8. My goodness what good looking petit fours AND a good looking blog if I do say so myself! And I believe I’m seeing the Ziplist recipe format too. No grass grows under YOUR feet! Happy Valentine’s Day! BTW the photos I was taking during the phone consults are in my current blog post (Cornish Game Hens) and the one prior (Sparkling Pink Sangria); I think I can chat and shoot!

  9. These are just beautiful! I cannot wait to try your icing recipe for my next batch of petits fours. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  10. Brooks, these are just beautiful!

  11. Malynn says:

    This petit four icing is absolutely perfect. It dries hard and glossy and it coated the cake squares just the perfect amount without having to add any extra water to thin it out. Thanks for posting your AWESOME recipe!

    • Brooks Walker says:

      You’re most welcome, Malynn. I appreciate you writing back to share your success—thank you!

  12. Samantha says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe! These look amazing and I can’t wait to try to make them for my valentine 🙂

    • Brooks Walker says:

      You’re welcome, Samantha. I appreciate you taking time to comment, and best wishes!

  13. Oh my…. how beautiful! You are such a romantic, Brooks! Mrs. W is so lucky. These are so lovely!

  14. Two years later and I bet Mrs. W is still swooning over this one! Truly, beautiful and delicious!

  15. Brooks, these are gorgeous and perfect. But, of course, that is to be expected from you. I’ve made petits fours a couple of times and, while they tasted great, there appearance might best be described as rustic! 😀

Trackbacks

  1. […] know, a petit four is essentially a mini cake, with layers of jam or frosting in the middle. This recipe from Cakewalker uses almond liquor and fruit jam, but you can use any combination of fancy […]

  2. […] Valentine Petit Fours. Recipe can be found at Cakewalker […]

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