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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!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I have been making this Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce every holiday season, for many years now.  I like to make this before or after Christmas and keep it stocked in the fridge for a quick lunch or dinner.  This deliciously rich and meaty pasta keeps me going throughout the busy holiday season.  All the baking and cooking burns a lot of calories!  (Or, at least I’d like to thinks so…).  This dish is definitely an indulgence, which is why I only make it for special occasions.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I like to use rigatoni for this recipe because this type of pasta soaks up a lot of sauce, so you can really pile on the bolognese!  Packed with five types of meat, this recipe is dedicated to the carnivore lover.  Cooking the sweet Italian sausage in the rendered pancetta fat is simply divine, and is the heavenly base for this sauce.  Resist the urge to snack on all the crispy bits while cooking this recipe!  The sweetness from the balsamic, sausage, nutmeg and fennel helps to balance out the salty meats.  I really love adding balsamic vinegar to this dish, because the acidity adds another level of richness to the sauce.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

I also like to the opportunity to use homemade ingredients when I make this recipe.  Earlier this year I canned tomatoes for the first time.  I love to use them in sauces and they taste so much better than store bought ones.  Fresh tomatoes are really the key to a tasty, light sauce.  I also started to make my own stock in my slow cooker after reading a lot about the health benefits of bone broth.  Making your own stock is so easy and I freeze them in 250 ml freezer containers for easy use.

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

When I need to refuel over the holidays, I rely on this protein packed pasta dish.  This Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce is sinfully delicious and is packed full of salty meats balanced with a bit of sweetness.  Another rich indulgence for the holiday season!

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

51

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 4 large servings

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Ingredients

  • sea salt
  • 1 pound (500g) rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 2 sweet Italian sausages, links split open, casing removed
  • 1/3 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/3 pound ground veal
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • coarse black pepper
  • 2 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 a fennel bulb, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cup beef stock*
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes*
  • 5 tablespoons (or half a 156ml can) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 good balsamic vinegar*
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water to taste and add the pasta, cooking until al dente. Drain pasta and return to pot to keep warm. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil to prevent pasta from sticking together.
  2. While the pasta cooks, heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil.
  3. Add the pancetta to one half of the pan, and the sausage to the other. Break up the sausage with a wooden spoon and brown while the pancetta renders, then combine and toss together for another minute.
  4. Remove sausage and pancetta with a slotted spoon. Add the pork, beef and veal. Brown and break up the meat with a wooden spoon. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the carrots, fennel, and garlic and cook another 5 to 6 minutes until soft.
  6. Add sausage and pancetta back to the pan. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up all the good bits with a wooden spoon.
  7. Stir in the stock, then the tomatoes, breaking up the tomatoes into smaller pieces.
  8. Add tomato paste, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes to taste.
  9. Simmer over medium low heat until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish with balsamic vinegar, and check seasoning. Simmer for a few minutes more.
  11. Divide pasta into four large bowls and generously top with sauce. Mix the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly.
  12. Top with freshly ground pepper, parsely and parmesan cheese.

Notes

*I use my own homemade beef broth

*or one 28 ounce can of whole or diced tomatoes. I can my own tomatoes so I use the whole quart. I like my sauce on the chunky side so I find the whole tomatoes break down in the sauce and there's no need to dice them, but with your preference!

*the thicker (more expensive) balsamic vinegar, the richer your sauce will be!

http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/12/rigatoni-balsamic-bolognese-sauce/

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

Rigatoni with Balsamic Bolognese Sauce

What is your favourite pasta sauce to serve over rigatoni?  Did you like the addition of balsamic vinegar in this bolognese sauce?

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

One of my most popular recipes on my blog is my review of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee and Chocolate Pudding. I had never tasted sticky toffee pudding before but now I actually prefer this to plum pudding.   This recipe has become one of my favourite desserts over the holidays and has since become an annual tradition.

The original post was written in the first year of my blog, and has consistently done well.   When I look back at this post, I’m proud of how far I’ve come!  But I cringe when I look back at those beginner photos.  Since this dessert is one of my favourite recipes, I wanted to do the post justice, so I decided to reshoot the sticky toffee pudding this year.

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

I also modified the recipe a bit, as my current boyfriend is lactose intolerant.  I substituted the double cream with coconut milk and it worked out very well. The coconut milk adds a light, creaminess to the sauce, but needs to simmer a little longer to reduce and thicken.  I also omitted the cocoa for this version, I prefer letting the sweet flavour of the dates shine through.

I’m still a Gordon Ramsay fan and have reviewed a few more of his recipes over the years, like his scrambled eggs.  These days I’m busy creating my own recipes and look to him more for tips and techniques.  I love how easy this recipe is, and his sticky toffee pudding continues to impress my friends and family.  Light and fluffy, this slightly bittersweet pudding soaks up the lightly salted toffee sauce perfectly.  This sticky toffee pudding makes for a delightful dessert to indulge in over the holidays.

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

51

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Ingredients

    For the pudding:
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp espresso, cooled
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • For the toffee sauce:
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

    For the pudding:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a sponge cake mold and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper as well, ensuring that all the sides are properly covered. Instead of a sponge cake mold, 8 x 175ml-200ml pudding basins can be used as well.
  2. Make espresso.
  3. Place the dates, sugar and water in a saucepan and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the dates are soft. Let cool.
  4. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In two batches, fold into the wet mixture with a spatula until just combined.
  5. Blend dates in a Magic Bullet or similar food processor until smooth.
  6. In a separate large bowl whisk together the dates, butter, vanilla and espresso. Add eggs and whisk again until well blended.
  7. Carefully pour into the prepared baking dish of choice and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick emerges fairly clean when inserted in the thickest part.
  8. For the toffee sauce:
  9. Place all the sauce ingredients into a saucepan and simmer, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar have dissolved and the sauce is smooth. Reduce sauce until thickened, about 10 minutes. Keep warm and give it a stir every once in a while to prevent a skin from forming on top.
  10. When the pudding is cool enough to handle, but still warm, run a small knife along the sides, then invert onto a serving plate. Peel off the baking parchment. Pour a generous drizzle of warm toffee sauce over the puddings and serve immediately.
http://iseehungrypeople.net/2016/12/05/gordon-ramsays-dairy-free-sticky-toffee-pudding/

Gordon Ramsay's Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

Gordon Ramsay’s Dairy Free Sticky Toffee Pudding

What dairy free desserts do you like to make over the holidays?  Did you like this dairy-free version of Gordon Ramsay’s Sticky Toffee Pudding?  Let me know!