Petit Fours Article -
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Petits Fours

A tray full of delectable and beautiful petits fours turns any event into an extraordinary occasion.

Dress these little cakes up for a tea party, a bridal shower, or an elegant luncheon.

The Cakes

These tiny, beautifully iced cakes are traditionally made with an almond sponge cake, but they can be any flavor of cake--and filling.

A génoise (zhehn-WAHZ), or sponge cake, acts like exactly that: a sponge. It is meant to absorb flavored syrups and liqueurs, resulting in moist, flavorful cakes. An almond jaconde is delicious, but you can also use pound cake or any sturdy, fine-crumbed cake that can stand up to filling, cutting, and decorating.

Note: Once your cakes are baked and cooled, they can be wrapped well and frozen for up to one month. Thaw the wrapped cakes at room temperature.

For more about the cake layer, see our Sponge Cakes advice article.

The Fillings

Use a long serrated knife to split the cakes into layers. You can measure the sides and mark them with toothpicks to help guide the knife; gently saw your way through. Cover cake layers with plastic wrap until you're ready to assemble them.

Always use a flavored syrup (Simple Syrup or Brandy Simple Syrup, for example) to soak your sponge cake layers. Use a pastry brush and be generous.

Once you've applied the syrup, you can spread on the filling: jams, buttercreams, lemon curd, and raspberry curd all make delicious fillings.

The Assembly

Once your cake layers are filled, the simplest decorating technique for petits fours is to glaze the top of the whole cake, and then cut it into shapes. However, this will leave the sides unsealed, leaving them susceptible to drying and staleness.

  • If you wish to glaze the tops and sides of your petit fours, arrange the cut shapes (squares, diamonds, or other shapes made with cookie cutters) on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.

  • Using a measuring cup, pour the warm glaze over and around the sides of each cake, using a small spatula or knife to reach all the bare spots. Any extra glaze can be scraped off the baking sheet, reheated, and re-applied. (Strain the glaze if it's full of crumbs.)

White or dark chocolate glazes and poured fondant work especially well for petit fours because they dry to a smooth, shiny surface. (If you substitute white chocolate for dark, use about fifty percent more white chocolate.) See our Chocolate Ganache article for more tips.

If you like the almond flavor of marzipan, a thin layer of marzipan between the cake and the glaze provides a glass-smooth, crumb-free surface for decorating.

  • Top the cake layer with a thin layer of jam, jelly or frosting
  • Roll the marzipan as thin as you can, and lay it over the cake. The jam will help it stick to the surface when you pour on the glaze.
Aug. 13, 2009 12:23 am
very new to this...hello all. I was on a cruise ship recently and one evening they served buttercream ganache. I would have jumped overboard and swam a mile for this recipe. All I can say is that these tiny treats had an icy fondant which was shaped as tiny ships..I thought it was a nice touch which showed that they were created on the ship, and not purchased from an off shore bakery. does anyone have a similar recipe for ganache?? also, shaping the icing?? I have tried and failed several times. I attempted a rose top and it ended up looking like a smashed bug on a windshield. I will accept any advise.
Sep. 13, 2009 10:44 am
Years ago a Home Eco. teacher taught me to make beautiful candy decorations (roses, leaves, etc.) using ...guess what? Flavored tootsie rolls. The chocolate roses are to die for! And so convenient and easy, who worldn't think of this! Enjoy
Sep. 17, 2009 6:11 am
Details please!!! Flavored tootsie roll flowers would be perfect decorations for a little girl's tea party. Please share!
Nov. 20, 2009 4:39 pm
Use candies that can be rolled with a rolling pin-tootsie rolls, starburst or gum drops. Rolled fondant is excellent for all different kind of decorations I use small metal cutters from Wilton and aspic cutters found in kitchen and baking supply stores.I use the icing recipe found on the Wilton website to cover petit fors. Happy Baking and Decorating.
Feb. 24, 2010 8:43 pm
it's all about the rolled fondant.. or marzipan. both of which you can just go buy and mold to your liking.
Apr. 1, 2010 1:09 am
Petit fours are one of my favorite desserts, but I don't think I have ever had any with a filling. Usually an almond flavored pound cake with that delicious frosting. Mostly at showers and weddings, so they were decorated accordingly.
Apr. 14, 2010 1:02 pm
I saw a great trick on the television for splitting cakes in half. By placing a cake on a jellyroll tray and then resting a cake knife on the near and far edges you can saw through getting a perfectly straight cut. PS. if the cake needs to be elevated a bit try cooling rack.
Sandy Simchak 
Apr. 14, 2010 5:43 pm
This is so very nice!!! Lovely receipes and photos I cannot wait to try.
Apr. 15, 2010 1:40 am
I made roses for a birthday cake using a very thick mixture of icing sugar and water (i dont have exact quantities, i just fiddled) and food colouring. You just need to wash your hands really well and use it like playdough, i found it fairly easy to shape individual rose petals and stick them together , and just layer around in a rough circular motion to form the roses. ill see about uploading a photo
May 27, 2010 11:23 am
The simplest roses to make start with a sugared gum drop. Roll a red, yellow or pink gum drop into an oval and cut in half crosswise. Tightly roll the flat edge, leaving the curved edge as the top of the petal. (This can be used as a rose bud if you prefer.) Wrap the other half of the gum drop around the rolled petal, cut (flat) side down to match the first. You now have a two-petal rose. Slightly bend the round tops of each petal backward like a newly open rose. Roll a green gum drop into an oval and cut in half crosswise. Use one of the halves to make a single leaf on the side of your rose. A small dab of icing on the bottom will secure it to the petits fours or cake/cupcake.
May 27, 2010 11:34 am
A piece of dental floss, held tightly at any level height will split cakes into layers. Position your hands, resting on the counter top, on either side of the cake, and use a sawing motion back and forth to work your way through the layer. (If you've baked a tough outer crust on the cake, slicing a small starting cut with a knife is helpful.) Cooling the cake very well prior to cutting is recommended, but freezing is not recommended if you are using the floss method. Freezing would work well, though, if you were using a knife to cut extremely thing layers to torte, sliding each layer onto a cardboard as you work through the cake.
Jun. 9, 2010 3:23 pm
You can also roll out tootsie rolls and use a paper stamp to cut tiny shapes for petit fours. so cute! I alsouse dental floss to slice the cake, it works perfectly.
Oct. 31, 2010 2:41 pm
dental floss and toothpicks work wonders. put tooth picks all around cake dead center, wrap with dental floss waxed, around cake than criss cross string and pull whala.
Jan. 18, 2011 9:20 am
love it
Jun. 27, 2011 11:53 am
I also use dental floss to cut sheet cakes into squares. I do this when I have iced the cake and then I decorate. Never had luck with Petit fors
Jul. 13, 2011 10:21 am
The petit fours of my youth were a lovely, fine white cake with a poured icing. No fillings or such!! I really miss those.
Jul. 13, 2011 6:43 pm
Soooo glad that I found this today. I love petit fours and it's hard to find bakeries that sell them. These recipes and tips give me the tools to make them myself. Thanks.
Jul. 13, 2011 8:10 pm
Seems to me that petifours would be like mini filled and frosted layer cakes
Dec. 16, 2011 7:17 pm
as strange as it sounds i keep taking the thinest string from my husbands guitar string packs and useing it like a garrot to cut cakes.
May 17, 2012 5:40 am
Can't wait for the NEXT event to make these !! Thanks for the detailed notes..they are quite expensive...sooo making them, is better!!
Jan. 14, 2013 10:29 pm
This is to jeanne, Me too on the petit fours of our youth. I have a recipe!!! Tender white cake!
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