Secret Garden Recipe: Pink Ice Petit Fours

Want to have a tea party?

We're going to find a garden enclosed in cool, moss-covered stone walls. We'll lay out delicate china on a wrought-iron table with ivy growing up each leg. Arrayed in sweet sundresses and sandals, we'll carry in platefuls of hot buttered scones, pitchers of raspberry and strawberry lemonade, and pots of fragrant orange tea. Every sip will be accompanied by a staunch pinky point. Twilight will find us still laughing, unwilling to let the summer daylight slip away.

Oh, and of course there'll be petit fours. The dainty, sweet little cake squares will be the jewels of the tea table.

What a fantasy. In actuality, I've just finished my first week of teacher meetings. The past few days have been filled with book shelving, furniture moving, copy making, curriculum planning, sweet student meeting, and lots of teacher giggling. I've left with a headache nearly every day, relieved that headache with a nap nearly every day, and even still . . . gotten a ton of work done nearly every day!

We can still have petit fours, though, right? Petit fours are sweet little tea time desserts that seem to specialize in being adorable. Any number of miniature desserts can be classified as petit fours (literally "small ovens" in French), but for my sister's surprise garden party earlier this summer, I knew I wanted dense, fruity cake squares. Petit fours are sometimes filled with jams, and then are covered in poured fondant or chocolate.

Now, before I gush, these bite-sized cakes were not perfect. More specifically, the poured fondant was not perfect. In fact, instead of "poured," let's call it glopped fondant. Shall we?

The thing is, fondant is going to be super sweet. There's a cavity-inducing amount of confectioner's sugar in it, not to mention the corn syrup. The only hope of this stuff covering your petit fours and not ending up with a cloying mess is making sure the poured fondant is heated enough to be very thin, so only a thin layer sticks to the outside of the cake square. This proved to be impossible with the recipe I used. It was warmed in a double boiler for gentle heating, but as soon as I started to pour, I was only able to cover a couple of cake squares before it was glop. Even when it was fully heated, it never really got thin enough to cover the squares in a reasonable way. As a result, they were too sweet.

Oh, and that color? That was not the color I was going for. I had a pale, rose petal pink in mind. Um, that's all I'll say about that.

While the petit fours weren't perfect, the taste itself (beyond the fondant) was so wonderful. The cake was deliciously moist, cool, and dense with a gorgeous buttery almond flavor. The raspberry jam covering was the perfect complement to the almond (one of my favorite flavor combinations!) and was simple to brush on, though it never dried completely. Really, if you use poured white chocolate or a different poured fondant recipe (how about trying this one, which looks great?), these would be fantastic (and they'd probably look a little less "gloppy" as well). Even in their overly sweet state, I ate a ton of them due to their brilliant flavorings.

This is also one of those recipes that ends up looking fancy despite being relatively easy to make -- and you know I love those. A few key steps (like freezing the cake before cutting it up and making sure your fruit glaze is very thin) ensure that the process is relatively simple.

Go have a tea party!

Pink Ice Petit fours



Recipe by: Adapted from Diana's Desserts
Yield: 60 1-inch petit fours, or about 16 2-inch petit fours

NOTE: This recipe does not include the poured fondant recipe or instructions due to the aforementioned difficulties. If you want to try poured fondant, I'd recommend looking at this post on Cakes and Cupboards, which looks promising. Nevertheless, poured fondant might still be too sweet for you. Another option is a poured chocolate. You'll probably need two coats if you use white chocolate. If you want completely smooth petit fours, I recommend using a thin layer of rolled marzipan under your icing, or the buttercream procedure outlined on Cakes and Cupboards, above.

Cake Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup milk
3 egg whites

Fruit Glaze:
12 ounces raspberry preserves (or heated jelly)
3 tablespoons water

Directions:
Prepare the cake. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9-inch baking pan, or use Wilton's Cake Release.

Cream butter, shortening, and sugar together in a large bowl. Beat in vanilla and almond extracts. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk. In another bowl, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a cooling rack. When cooled, chill cake in refrigerator for a bit before freezing it for at least 1 hour.

Right before removing the cake from the freezer, prepare fruit glaze. In a medium saucepan, heat preserves with the 3 tablespoons water on low heat. If using jelly, judge whether or not you need any of the water to make it a thin consistency.

Remove cake from freezer. Using a long, serrated knife, cut a thin slice off each side of chilled cake. Cut cake into squares of desired size (for me, about 1.5-inch squares). Place squares 1/2 inch apart on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Use a pastry brush to spread a thin layer of heated preserves over tops and sides of petit fours before icing. Allow excess to drip off. Let dry (I put them in the fridge and let them set up a bit -- they never really "dry"). Repeat if necessary to thoroughly coat squares.

Prepare your desired poured fondant or chocolate and pour over the petit fours. Decorate the tops with different frostings, chocolates, sprinkles, candy, sugar flowers, etc. as you wish. Refrigerate until ready to eat -- eat within a day or two.

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40 Comments on Secret Garden Recipe: Pink Ice Petit Fours

  1. Jules
    August 29, 2010 at 2:09 am (5 years ago)

    Oh WOW.

    WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW.

    That’s all 😀

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 2:31 pm (5 years ago)

      😀 Thanks, Jules!

      Reply
  2. Amy B.
    August 29, 2010 at 4:57 am (5 years ago)

    AWH! They’re so pretty! Good job! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I’d love to share this to my friends as well in Foodista I hope you don’t mind. Just add the foodista widget for petit fours at the end of this post, and that should do it! The widget shall direct readers to this post when they go looking for a petit four recipe :-) Keep on sharing!

    Cheers from Australia,
    Amy @ Foodista

    Reply
  3. Joanne
    August 29, 2010 at 7:28 am (5 years ago)

    I have to admit, fondant kind of scares me. I mean, I really want to learn how to use it. But I’ve heard such horror stories about it’s taste that I’m kind of scared of it. I’m sorry it didn’t turn out exactly the way you’d planned!

    The little cake squares themselves do sound delicious. Almost like a linzer tart of cake! And who can resist such a thing?

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 2:33 pm (5 years ago)

      This is a “baby step” into fondant, I think. Too bad my “baby step” resulted in me falling right over 😉

      I’m not big into fondant because when I think of my priorities, cooking outweighs decorating (though I love both). So I don’t know that I’ll ever get into, say, fondant covered cakes. They’re beautiful, but not my talent!

      Thanks, Joanne!

      Reply
  4. Lori
    August 29, 2010 at 8:51 am (5 years ago)

    I loved the picture you painted of the garden party!! What a wonderful image that was!! I think you are so brave to venture into fondant, it intimidates me beyond belief. The pictures turned out wonderfully well and despite not being quite the color you wanted I still think that is a fabulous color!!! I would have helped you eat several too!!

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 2:33 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw, thanks, Lori! :)

      Reply
  5. Brittany at Mommy Words
    August 29, 2010 at 9:41 am (5 years ago)

    Thank you! You have inspired me to do petit fours with fairies on them for my Neverland Pixie Hollow Cake for Sophia’s 4th birthday. I didn’t even think of that until I saw this post. BTW I think they look beautiful even if they are a little less than perfect. Great job! I will try the other recipe you suggest though 😉

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm (5 years ago)

      Hurray! They are just perfect for that cute little princess 😉

      This cake recipe is phenomenal, but yes, do use a different glaze! I actually think they’d be 10x easier and prettier with just a simple white chocolate glaze. Melted chocolate or candy melts are also a super easy way to pipe little decorations — just stick the melted chocolate in a ziplock, cut off a tiny corner, and pipe away!

      Can’t wait to see what you create!

      Reply
  6. Betty @ scrambled hen fruit
    August 29, 2010 at 12:30 pm (5 years ago)

    Despite what you might say, I think they’re sweet! I love the pink and purple- they’re so “girly tea partyish.” When I was small, I used to love watching my uncle in his bakery make petit fours. I always dreamed of tea parties like yours, but my cousins were boys and they’d have nothing to do with the idea. A girl can dream, can’t she? I hope you have a fabulous school year!

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Betty! I think we need to get together and have a tea party!

      Reply
  7. Finny
    August 29, 2010 at 1:40 pm (5 years ago)

    1. Those petit fours sound wonderful. I think I’ll try them with chocolate or white chocolate.

    2. I think I’d like a Anne of Green Gables party.

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 2:36 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you, Finny! And regarding Anne of Green Gables, YOU AND ME BOTH! I’d also love an Emily of New Moon party — love L.M. Montgomery :)

      We need to make that happen . . .

      Reply
  8. Jamie
    August 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm (5 years ago)

    Aw I love petit fours! We used to get them when I was little and then I’ve almost never had them since so they’re kind of a warm fuzzy childhood type dessert for me.

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:21 pm (5 years ago)

      Awww, Jamie, this makes me so happy! When I perfect these, I’m so making some for you!!

      Reply
  9. Megan
    August 29, 2010 at 1:59 pm (5 years ago)

    These look beautiful. I always think about making them, but I just haven’t yet. I need a good excuse to make them, and then I’ll give them a try.

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks Megan! :)

      Reply
  10. Maranda
    August 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm (5 years ago)

    Those are so beautiful Julie! You did such a great job! It’s all about trial and error right??? They came out gorgeous whether you say they were gloppy or not. Fantastic job!

    Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 11:41 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw, thank you Maranda!

      Reply
    • Julie
      August 29, 2010 at 11:42 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw, thanks Amanda!

      Reply
  11. Julie M.
    August 30, 2010 at 7:21 am (5 years ago)

    Oh I don’t know, they look pretty darn good to me! I mean, did you see my leaning tower of pisa fours? Yours are straight and the icing is smooth and Alex, my four year old, would leave his brother in the gutter for a pink treat like that! (Pink’s his very favorite color; we’re way too into pinkalicious over here right now.)

    Nice work!

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm (5 years ago)

      I LOVED your petit fours, Julie! And you know what else I love? That your son’s favorite color is pink. Too cute!

      Reply
  12. Ash
    August 30, 2010 at 9:45 am (5 years ago)

    These are just the cutest!! I’d be ready to have me a Marie Antoinette party with those!!

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw, thanks Ash!

      Reply
  13. Andrea @ Thin Thighs & Sweet Potato Fries
    August 30, 2010 at 9:49 am (5 years ago)

    There’s nothing about these that looks like you made any mistakes to me! :) They look adorable and I like the shade of pink they turned out! You’ll be proud to know that I tried my hand at baking this weekend, and well…let’s just say if you do another “flops” post, I’ll be happy to contribute some pics! :/ I’ll have to tell you all about it soon! Hope school preps are going well and those headaches go away!

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw, Andrea!! What was the dish? Flops happen, girl! Get right back on the baking horse!

      Reply
  14. Lucy
    August 30, 2010 at 1:35 pm (5 years ago)

    I think your petit fours are fantastic and so neatly decorated with their purple swirl! And I love the colour, even if it was a mistake!

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Lucy!

      Reply
  15. Natalie (The Sweets Life)
    August 30, 2010 at 4:58 pm (5 years ago)

    Maybe these are not the color you were going for but I love the pop of bright pink!! :)

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw, thanks!

      Reply
  16. newlywed
    August 31, 2010 at 6:10 am (5 years ago)

    I actually love the colors. I hear you about the furniture moving…my arms are sore today from the same, getting my room ready!

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:12 pm (5 years ago)

      WAIT, did I know you were a teacher?? What do you teach??

      Reply
  17. KeepItSweet
    August 31, 2010 at 8:32 am (5 years ago)

    I’m not a big fondant fan. Those are so pretty.

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm (5 years ago)

      I don’t have a desire to get into your typical rolled fondant, but I wouldn’t mind poured fondant now and again. Ahem… if it worked 😉

      Thanks!

      Reply
  18. Christina
    August 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm (5 years ago)

    Super WOW! So very pretty and perfect!

    Reply
    • Julie
      September 1, 2010 at 11:10 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you Christina :)

      Reply
  19. Meredith
    April 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm (4 years ago)

    The spring weather makes a tea party sound absolutely divine right now! Your opening description is dreamy. I’m currently abroad, but I can’t wait to try all sorts of recipes once I’m back in a “real” kitchen again – at home in Charlotte, as a matter of fact!

    Reply

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