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How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to do something special for my mom, as we all do.  My parents moved to Ottawa when I was in university and have since retired and have spent most of their time traveling the world.  While I’m super happy that they’re healthy and able to do so, they aren’t around for most holidays and I only see them a few times a year. I miss them a lot and Mother’s Day is no exception.  But this year my parents were going to be in town, so I want to go all out!  Except…I’m in between contracts at the moment and am on a tight budget.  All the fancy high tea spots are ch-ching!  So, I decided to do my own tea party at home.  Time to bust open my go-to baking book: Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.  I decided to tackle her Petits Fours recipe: mini almond cakes covered in a white chocolate glaze.  I’ll show you how to make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours…or at least, how I tried to make them…

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

The first problem I faced was that I couldn’t find almond paste anywhere.  I guess it’s more of a specialty baking ingredient?  But none of the major supermarkets in Toronto had this paste.  So, I made some myself and it was quick and easy.  I found this recipe on the Taste of Home site – now I need to find more desserts that use almond paste ’cause I have a whole block of the stuff!

Making the almond cake went smoothly.  I made sure my butter was at room temperature, and carefully added the ingredients one at a time.  I timed the butter exactly for two minutes and the mixture became nice and fluffy.  I used a big spatula when adding the yolks and vanilla and added the flour in three parts.  Things were going well!

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

For the next step, I started to feel intimidated…egg whites!  Peaks and foam!  But I had faith in my trusted Kitchen Aid mixer and soon I saw some foamy whites start to form.  I carefully added the sugar and low and behold – peaks!  Ever so gently I folded a third of this fluffy mixture into the egg yolk mixture and then spread it evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet. I made sure to rotate the pan halfway, and out came a heavenly almond cake!

Man, I love the smell of almond.  Everything smells so lovely, like a sweet, nutty dream.  I could just close my eyes, and take a wonderful cozy, nap…

But there is still more work to do!

The next step is the chocolate part.  As in, the most expensive ingredient that I CANNOT BURN part. The glaze was actually the easy step, because the cream is poured over the chocolate to melt it. Make sure the cakes are completely cooled by this point or they will melt the chocolate!  I found glazing the cakes to be a bit tricky.  Even though I worked quickly, my glaze was pretty thick.  It tasted delish, but I don’t know how to get the glaze thin and evenly spooned over the cakes.  In the photos her glaze looks almost transparent.  I almost feel as though it would be easier to dip them?  But in any case, my cakes are glazed.

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

The final step was to make the white chocolate cut outs.  I found this stage to be the most difficult, and gosh darn it I did end up burning some chocolate!  Luckily there was a lot leftover but initially I had wanted to make blue and pink Petits Fours.  The blue unfortunately turned a little, urm darker then I would have liked.  Do not let your eyes off the chocolate people!  Work quickly and stir, stir, stir!  

This part is tricky because you need to keep the chocolate warm enough to work with, and not burn it.  I would advise to stick to one colour and try to avoid fiddling around with the tint.  Just melt the chocolate until the texture is smooth and runny, tint and pour.  My shapes turned out a bit too thick because I was trying to get the “perfect shade of pink” so by the time I poured into the pan the chocolate had cooled quite a bit.

However, the other issue is that if the chocolate is two thin, the shapes will crack.  The shapes that worked out best for me were the thicker ones.  Whenever I tried to cut out thinner areas the chocolate would break.  I think the problem was that I might have chilled the sheet of chocolate for too long. I would recommend chilling for no longer then 10 minutes, so hopefully this way you can have thin cut outs that will hold.

For the finishing touch you can use some Royal Icing to design pretty patterns on top.  I thought the cakes were sweet enough and I liked the cool textured patterns that the chocolate created.

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

How To Make Martha Stewart’s Petits Fours

Ta-Da!  There you have it – some delightful Petits Fours for your Mother’s Day tea party.  No problem right?  Phew!  That was actually quite a lot of work.  Martha likes to keep you on your toes!  And how do they taste?  Well I absolutely LOVE the almond cake.  Yum, yum, yum, I had to restrain myself from eating all the cut out remains!  The white chocolate glaze in addition to the cut outs does make this a very sweet dessert.  Personally, I would be happy with just the glaze, but then again, I also have to perfect my glazing and cutout skills.

 

How To Make Martha Stewart's Petits Fours
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Martha Stewart's Petits Fours

These delectable little almond cakes are topped with white chocolate and are a pretty addition to any tea party.

Course Dessert, Tea Party
Cuisine French
Prep Time 2 hours 35 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Servings 36 cakes
Author Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 1.5 sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup) room temperature, plus more for the pan
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup almond paste (not marzipan)
  • 6 large eggs separated
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds white chocolate coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • White Chocolate Cutouts
  • Royal Icing, for decorating

For the White Chocolate Cutouts

  • 2 1/4 pounds best-quality white chocolate finely chopped
  • liquid or gel-paste food colouring

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 17x 12" baking sheet and line with parchment paper.  Butter parchment and dust with flour, tapping off the excess.  In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 1/4 cups sugar and the almond paste on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add butter, and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg yolks and vanilla; mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour. Set aside.

  3. Prep sugar.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy.  With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle in remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and beat until soft peaks form.  Add a third of the egg-white mixture to the egg-yolk mixture and fold with a whisk.  Gently fold in remaining whites.

  4. Spread batter evenly on prepared sheet, and bake, turning pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire rack to cool completely.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

  5. Invert the cake onto a large work surface, and peel off parchment paper.  Using assorted 2-inch cookie cutters, cut out cakes.  Place cakes on wire racks set over rimmed baking sheets; set aside.

  6. Place the white chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer over medium-high heat; pour over white chocolate, and let sit for 1 minute.  Stir until mixture is smooth.  Spoon melted chocolate over cakes, letting some run down the sides; spread with a small offset spatula to coat completely.  Transfer glazed cakes to a parchment-lined baking sheet, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.  Place a White Chocolate Cutouts on top of each cake; decorate with Royal Icing, if desired.  Cakes can be refiderated in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

White Chocolate Cutouts

  1. Line three rimmed baking sheets with parchment; set aside.  In a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, melt white chocolate, stirring constantly.  Divide melted chocolate evenly among three small bowls; tint each with food colouring to desired shade.  Pour a coloured chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, spreading it with an offset spatula into a layer about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to the refrigerator; chill until chocolate is firm, 10-15 minutes.  Repeat with remaining coloured chocolates.

  2. Working with one colour at a time, cut out shapes; leave shapes in place on the sheet.  (If chocolate is still soft in any area, return to the fridge to harden, 1-2 minutes).  Refrigerate until completely firm.  Separate the shapes from borders with a small offset spatula.  (Scraps can be discarded or remelted and used again.) Cutouts can be refrigerated, between sheets or parchment paper, in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all those amazing moms out there!  It’s a hard job and I greatly admire all my friends who have taken on the responsibility.  You deserve all the Petits Fours in the world!

 Have you made Petits Fours before?  Can you give me some tips?  How did you find glazing the cakes?  Did your cutouts crack?  

What did you make your mom for Mother’s Day, I want to know!

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

When I was given the task of throwing a bridal shower for my best friend, I knew exactly what to do: a Jane Austen party!  I want to share photos of all the hard work that went into this special day, and show you how to host a Jane Austen tea party, an elegant and fun event for ladies of all ages!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’re probably a little surprised by this post.  Jane Austen and zombies don’t really mush together (unless you’re reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was a piece of garbage).  Well, what can I say?  There is a part of me that loves the prim and proper world of the Victorian era.  Yes, the inequality and repression goes against everything I believe in as a feminist, and there is definitely a lack of blood and gore.  But the dancing!  The prose!  The unrequited love!  Pretty dresses and tea cups!  Yup, there is a cheesy, romantic side to my dark and hungry soul, and Jane Austen fulfills that part.  

Also, I’m half British so tea parties are pretty much engrained in my genes.

My BFF and I have been Jane Austen fans since we were teenagers, and every year during the Christmas holidays we order in our favourite take out and marathon the A&E Pride and Prejudice miniseries.  

Colin Firth in a water soaked white shirt never gets old *sigh*.  

I couldn’t think of  a better way to show my love for my oldest and dearest friend by giving her the ultimate Victorian tea party.  I was so pleased with how everything turned out!

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

For decorations we covered the chairs with white seat covers and wrapped them with light pink bows along with a matching table cloth.  We also rented a white pillar to showcase one of the many white and pink flower arrangements. My friend’s sister found these pretty love quote wall stickers that we displayed above the fireplace as a final touch.  We also set up a few card tables, a popular hobby for Victorian ladies!

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

For the table centrepiece, I assembled a special Jane Austen picnic basket filled with: tea sandwiches wrapped in wax paper, silverware, poundcake, grapes, a bottle of sherry and some baby’s breath. 

Music is key for any party and I take great pride in creating the perfect playlist.  For this tea party I put together a mix of classical music and Jane Austen movie soundtracks and played the music quietly in the background.

Finally, the most important element for a Victorian tea party, are the tea cups!  My friend’s mother had a lovely selection to choose from, I’m very envious of her collection! 

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

Onwards to my favourite part of hosting any party: the food! Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook was my bible and I spent a day churning out scones, poundcake and my masterpiece: Petits Fours.   We also labeled the food with elegant, printed labels.

This was our menu:

Sense and Sensibility Scones: Fennel & Golden Raisin scones with herb butter

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party - Sense and Sensibility Scones

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party – Sense and Sensibility Scones

Sense and Sensibility Scones: Oat and Apricot scones with devon cream and jam

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party - Sense and Sensibility Scones

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party – Sense and Sensibility Scones

Mr. Darcy’s Stuffed Mushrooms – because he is so full of himself! 

Persuasion Petits Fours – a classic high tea treat.  Soft almond cakes coated with white chocolate and topped with a pretty white chocolate cut out!  The creative possibilities are endless.

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party - Persuasion Petit Fours

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party – Persuasion Petit Fours

Emma’s Cheese Tray – the selection included Royal Canadian Cheddar, Apple Smoked Cheddar, Peppercorn Goat Cheese and Triple Cream Brie.  Basically, all my faves!

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party - Emma's Cheese Tray

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party – Emma’s Cheese Tray

Pride & Prejudice Lemon Poppyseed Poundcake

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party - Pride & Prejudice Poundcake

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party – Pride & Prejudice Poundcake

Mansfield Park Tea Sandwiches:
-Smoked salmon w/capers on pumpernickel
-Cucumber, watercress and creamed cheese
-Rosemary chicken
-Egg salad
-Tuna

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

Elizabeth Bennett’s Shortbread Heart Shaped Cookies – in honour of our favourite character who never gave up on love.

Victorian dried cherries & raspberries

A Jane Austen tea selection: Earl Grey tea, Lady Grey tea, orange peakoe, English breakfast, chamomile, lemon

Jane Austen's Tea Selection

Jane Austen’s Tea Selection

And of course we had to have a bridal shower cake!  My friend’s sister had this beautiful cake made for the occasion.

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

How To Host A Jane Austen Tea Party

For games we had a Jane Austen quiz and also did a matchmaker game.  Everyone has a sticker on their back, listing one half of a celebrity couple.  Then everyone mingles to find their famous mate by only asking “yes” or “no” questions to figure out who they are.  I love this easy game because it’s a great ice breaker.  For prizes we handed out tea cups and Jane Austen novels wrapped with pretty ribbons.

My friend loved her shower, and we loved planning it for her!  Can we have Jane Austen tea parties all the time?

Have you ever hosted a Jane Austen tea party? What kind of thematic bridal showers have you thrown? Post a link below, I’d love to see!