Autumn Petits Fours

For longer than a decade it has been a tradition in my house to bake a trilogy of pies for the feast of thanks. Apple pie, pumpkin pie and pecan pie—individually delicious by virtue of merit, but a sliver of each together on a dessert plate is three times heavenly! It caters to the diner who wants it all or the one who can’t decide between them. In either case, the bountiful variety pleases Pilgrims young and old.


Autumn Petits Fours


This Thanksgiving will be no exception. We’ll enjoy a traditional dinner with all the sides. Sure, the preparation methods may shift a bit as new recipes or ingredient trends add a twist to tried-and-true standbys. But the pinnacle of the meal, second only to the roast turkey, will be the pies.


Cake Dividing SequenceFilling and Cutting Sequence

Divide, measure and cut the cakes. A ruler helps with accuracy, and toothpicks are terrific markers and guides. (L)

 Spread the fillings onto one half of each third. For the Maple Pecan, brush the cake first with maple syrup. (R)


It wasn’t always this way for me. As a younger lad, like many kids, my tastes were finicky. Pumpkin was too, well, vegetable-like. It didn’t matter how it was spiced up, I knew it was a vegetable. And pecans, a funny sounding word pronounced differently around the country—if the nut was anything but a peanut, I wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Funny, as I write this I could have been describing my own children’s fussy palates until earlier this year. But in time with loving, guided exposure to flavors and dishes, I got over the “I don’t like it” hurdle as they have. And that in of itself is something to be thankful for.


Fondant Autumn Leaves


There are Pilgrims, however, who simply don’t like to eat pie. If you or someone you know hasn’t warmed up to the crusty dessert, have I got an alternative for you.


Autumn Petits Fours

With the wonderful flavors of the season like Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry Orange and Maple Pecan, you can offer something deliciously different. These tiny cakes are not only satisfying, but they’ll add an elegant touch to your Thanksgiving table. Whether your dessert course is cake or pie, may this holiday surround you with those you love, sharing peace and giving thanks!


Prep Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: Makes approximately 40, 2-inch x 1-inch rectangular cakes

Serving Size: Two petits fours


Delight your Pilgrims with a dazzling display of Autumn Petits Fours. This recipe will guide you to getting them on the dessert table, but be sure to save room for they are as tasty as they look!


  • 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
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites (may substitute equivalent of pasteurized liquid whites from a carton)
  • One batch of fall colored Petit Four Icing
    Special Equipment:
  • 13x9x1 rimmed sheet pan
  • Candy or deep frying thermometer
  • Candy fork for dipping
  • Patience
  • Optional:
  • Fondant fall leaves tinted in autumn colors
  • Fall-colored sprinkles


    For the cake:
  • Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Grease a 13x9x1 rimmed sheet pan (commonly called a quarter sheet pan or jelly roll 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, then 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 and cool completely.
  • Position the cake on a cutting board so the 13" length is horizontal facing you. Trim off the sloped edges around the perimeter of the cake, squaring the edges as much as possible. Divide the cake vertically into even thirds (use toothpicks to mark measurements in the cake) and cut accordingly. Slice each third in half crosswise using a serrated knife or a cake leveler adjusted so the wire cuts into half; set the tops aside. Spread each of the fillings onto the bottom halves from edge to edge. Remember to brush the maple pecan halves with pure maple syrup first. Place the tops back onto the bottom cakes sandwiching the fillings. Loosely cover the cakes in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour or longer. Cut the chilled cakes into equal rectangles or squares.
  • Prepare the icing per the recipe and directions for fall colors:
  • Coat the cakes with icing per the directives in the video. Two coats are sufficient, but you might want to coat three times. Let iced cakes sit on a rack over a sheet pan to catch icing drips. Drips can be stirred back into icing bowls to use for recoating. After the final coat, decorate with sprinkles or fondant leaves. 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 a bit 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.


If there's concern for the cake rising over the pan's edge during baking, place a larger sheet pan underneath on the rack below. The Cranberry Orange filling may be too chunky to spread nicely on the cake—puree a small amount of it to help smooth it out. 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. Petits fours without fondant decorations (remove any first) freeze beautifully in an airtight container. Thaw to room temperature before serving.


  1. Too cute!

  2. These are fantastic, Brooks! Like everything you make!

    Never trust a nut whose pronunciation folks can’t decide upon! lol

  3. Your fall petit fours are perfect! And the fondant leaves are the perfect garnish. My daughter loves petit fours…I’m glad to have your sage advice to guide me through my attempts :

    PS…I would think fresh cranberries might be too tart in my crostini. But I bet making a fresh cranberry sauce or chutney would be a nice alternative to craisins.

    • Brooks Walker says

      No doubt you’d nail petits fours out of the gate, Liz! Thanks for the lovely comment and reply to your scrumptious crostini. I had a hunch fresh cranberries would overpower the dish. Good thing Mrs. W buys sweetened dried cranberries for her baked treats this time of year.

  4. Brooks,
    Your petit fours are gorgeous, and I love the array of cake flavors. Your petit fours offer another delicious addition to the dessert table.

    • Brooks Walker says

      I figure small bites with big flavor will keep overindulgence at bay. Maybe not. Thank you for the kind remark, Becky—it’s a pleasure to have you stop by!

  5. So pretty! I love all the step by steps. Making petit fours is not easy, but you sure make it look like I could do it! 🙂

    • Brooks Walker says

      Thanks kindly, Amanda. I have a hunch your skill set can accomplish the little cakes with ease!

  6. So pretty and danty!

  7. Brooks, these are gorgeous! And I think I see now where I went wrong when I last attempted petits fours — I didn’t chill the cake before cutting and icing. Maybe I’ll give this a go for my next tea party.

    • Brooks Walker says

      Jean, you’re a dear…thank you! There are some additional photos for cutting, filling and icing petits fours on the Valentine Petits Fours post for additional perspective. Best wishes on your next attempt in making them, and I hope you’ve been having a lovely summer!

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