The term petit fours is traditionally used to describe the miniature cookies and cakes that accompany an afternoon coffee or tea or that are served after a meal. Petit Four is a French term that means “small oven”.
In 19th century France, there were no gas ovens. Most food items were baked in a breadmaker’s oven that was a huge cabin made out of stone. They would light a fire underneath. These types of ovens took a long time to get going but once they did they became really hot for some time. The oven only had two settings. The first setting was the grand four, big oven, where the fire was at its strongest. This setting was used when the roasting meat and potatoes and other vegetables. The second setting was the petit four which was a lower temperature allowing the correct heat to cook pastries.
You don’t have to be a French pastry chef to make petit fours. Try out our recipe below and impress your friends and family members at your Easter brunch and serve these delicious and festive petit fours.
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 5 large eggs, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 ¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and prepare a 9×5 loaf pan by greasing lightly with butter.
- Mix together the butter, cream cheese salt, sugar, baking powder, vanilla and almond extracts in a medium bowl until well combined.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat for about 3 minutes. Add the milk and gradually add the flour and mix on low until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the pan (be sure it’s a 9×5 pan!) and bake for 50- minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Once the cake has cooled completely, cut into 1-inch slices. Use an oval-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the egg shapes. Gently dust off any crumbs.
- 4 ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
- ¼ cup light corn syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- Food coloring
- In a double boiler over simmering water, mix the ingredients except for the food coloring and sprinkles until warmed through. Mix until smooth. Stir in desired food coloring (optional).
- Cool for 7-8 minutes before pouring over the cakes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then top with a wire baking rack. Set the cake sandwiches on the wire rack about an inch from one another.
Pour the icing over the cakes, then decorate with sprinkles as desired. Let the icing set up – about 1-2 hours. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
These petit fours are not only perfect for Easter, but for any celebrations including bridal and baby showers!