Last updated on September 3rd, 2021
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…
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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Petit Fours with White Chocolate Glaze
For the layered cakes
- 1 9-inch x 4-inch pound cake, store-bought or homemade
- 1/2 cup apricot preserves, warmed and strained
- 1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam, warmed
For the white chocolate glaze
- 8 ounces white chocolate chips or bars (chop the bars)
- 6 tablespoons diced unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (optional)
For the royal icing:
- 1 large organic egg white at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted to remove lumps
- A drop of vegetable food coloring, such as blue, pink, or violet
Making the layered "sandwiches":
- Cut the pound cake into 18 1/4-inch slices. Place the slices on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet. Spread 6 slices with the warmed and strained apricot preserves, and another 6 slices with the warmed raspberry jam. Place the apricot-spread slices on top of the rasberry-spread slices. Top with the remaining unadorned slices. Cover the "sandwiches" with cling film, and weigh down with casserole dish or a platter. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
- Place a wire rack on a parchment or wax paper llined baking sheet. Using a 1 1/4-inch-diameter biscuit cutter, and taking care to avoid crusts, press out 2 petit fours per layered sandwich, and transfer them to the wire 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, butter, and optional shortening in a heat-proof bowl. Set the bowl over a sauce pan of very hot, but not simmering, water. Stirring with a metal spoon from time to time, allow the mixture to melt into a velvety white lava. Spoon or ladle the sauce over the petit fours, letting it drizzle down the sides. Cool for at least 30 minutes.
The royal icing:
- In a medium size bowl, whisk the egg white until it foams -- about 30 seconds. Add the sifted confectioners' sugar, and stir, with a spoon or spatula, until the mixture is perfectly smooth. If the icing is too thick, stir in droplets of water. Stir in a speck of the food coloring to achieve the desired tint.
Piping the icing:
- Scoop the icing into a plastic zip-lock bag. Squeeze the bag to force the icing into one corner. Snip off the corner tip, and pipe swirls, spirals, or dots onto the tops of the cakes. Allow the icing to dry for at least 1 hour.
Serving and storage:
- Serve the petit fours for Afternoon Tea -- Earl Grey is recommended. Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week. For longer storage, omit the royal icing, and freeze the chocolate-covered cakes for 1-3 months. Pipe on the royal icing before serving.