Why do I make lots of 19th-century desserts? Because the ghosts who inhabit my house demand them. Today, for instance, Sarah Wild (1793-1872) requested little cakes, or Petit Fours, for Afternoon Tea. How could I refuse?
Sarah and Nathan’s son, Charles, inherited the place in 1867. Charles was “well-heeled,” too. In 1870 he built a grand, Victorian addition to the house: a double parlor (above) that I now use as a music room.
I cheated quite a bit in order to make Sarah’s Petit Fours. Instead of preparing a traditional genoise batter, I simply sliced up a store-bought pound cake, and spread the layers with two kinds of preserves. Then I sealed the cakes in white chocolate, and drizzled the tops with Royal Icing.
You can make these tiny treasures, too. Here’s the recipe:
Don’t throw away the scraps! Your Little People will enjoy playing in them. Further more, you can freeze the wreckage for later use in a trifle. Or, you can simply break the scraps into goblets, and top them with whipped cream for a fast, and definitely casual, dessert.
Sarah Wild suggested that I pipe some Royal Icing onto the cakes.
Her wish, as always, is my command.
If you have ghosts in your house, by all means keep them happy. Otherwise they will hoot, howl, and slam doors in the middle of the night.
Cut off the corner tip…
Here’s a copy and paste version of the above:
Petit Fours with White Chocolate Glaze
Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for 1 dozen cakes
For the layered cakes:
A 9-inch by 4-inch pound cake (homemade or store-bought)
1/2 cup apricot preserves, warmed and strained
1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves, warmed
For the White Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces white chocolate bits
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
For the Royal Icing
1 large, organic egg white at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted to remove lumps
Optional: a drop of vegetable food coloring, such as blue, pink, or violet
Making the layered cakes — Cut the pound cake into 18 1/4-inch slices. Place the slices on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread 6 slices with the apricot preserves, and another 6 slices with the raspberry preserves. Place the raspberry-spread pieces on top of the apricot-spread pieces, and top each with a third, unadorned slice. Cover the “sandwiches” with plastic wrap, and weight them with a casserole dish or platter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
Set a wire rack over a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a 1 1/4-inch biscuit cutter, and taking care to avoid the crusts, press out 2 petit fours per layered sandwich. Arrange the little cakes on the rack. (Don’t throw out the scraps — you can freeze them and serve later with whipped cream for a simple dessert.)
The White Chocolate Glaze – Put the chocolate and butter into a stainless steel (or heat-proof glass) bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir with a spatula until the butter and chocolate melt, and transform themselves into a luscious white lava. Ladle the chocolate over the cakes, and let it drizzle down the sides. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
The Royal Icing – Put the egg white into a stainless steel bowl. Whisk until foamy. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar, and stir until perfectly smooth. (If the icing is too thick, stir in a teaspoon or two of water.) Stir in a speck of food coloring, if you wish to tint the icing.
Piping the Icing – Scoop the icing into a plastic zip-lock-type bag. Squeeze the bag so the icing will be concentrated in one corner. Snip off the corner tip, and pipe swirls, spirals, or dots onto the tops of the cakes.
Serving and Storage – You can serve the cakes immediately, or place them in an airtight container for up to 24 hours. For longer storage, refrigerate for up to 1 week. For even longer storage, omit the Royal Icing, and freeze the chocolate-covered cakes for up to 1 month. Pipe on the Royal Icing before serving.
Think you’ll give these simple Petit Fours a whirl? You can let me know by leaving a comment. As always, I love to hear from you.
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