Jan 1, 2009

Petit Fours & Fondant

Fondant, the basis of all French candy, is made of sugar and water boiled together.

Petit fours, is French for small ovens, they were a way for p√Ętissiers to use up leftovers while the ovens cooled down. A Petit Four is a small cake generally eaten at the end of a meal or served as part of a large buffet and these old world treats have become a holiday tradition for my family.

Typically, petits fours consist of alternate layers and butter cream topped by frosting and are approximately 1 inch square and about 1.5 inches high. They are covered with fondant and are decorated with piped icing, candy, nuts, or other sugar embellishments. Often made in pastel colors.

Fondant is a thick, creamy white sugar mass used in different forms for decorating cakes and cookies with; it can be rolled and draped over a cake, poured as a glaze or sculpted with. Fondant is also the basis of many candies. It can be in the center as a filling of a chocolate-covered cherry. Fondant originates from the word "fondre" which means to melt named so because it melts.

This is my petite four pre-done. I have not cut it into shape yet. Now I did not use any pre-mixed bases. My petits fours and fondant where made from scratch, but I find it's easier to use a box cake mix, candy thermometer and electric mixer when first starting out.

Some still call this a fondue but for now I will call it a glaze. This will be used only to glaze your petit fours. Heat water and sugar in a pot until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil and turn off heat. Let cool. Easy chemistry lesson for today. Fondant is formed by supersaturation sugar in water. So the sugar is cooked at a high enough temp to dissolve and make into fondant, a cream filling. Then the sugar and other ingredients are cooled and then stirred vigorously. Poured fondant (cream filling) should not be boiled, but poured fondant makes a better petit four.

This is the almond flavored filling I made for the petite fours. *Note* never let the fondant get too hot, so be careful. The bottom of the pot should never get so hot you can't put your hand on it comfortably. If the fondant gets too hot you will notice that the fondant looks dull on the cakes and have a gritty texture. Tip: Do not over fill pan, it should not be over two thirds full.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) Fondant is a cream confection used as a filling or coating for cakes, pastries, and candies or sweets. In its simplest form, it is sugar and cooked to the soft-ball stage, cooled slightly, and stirred or beaten until it is an opaque mass of creamy consistency. Sometimes flavor is added to the mixture, mainly for taste.

Fondant is best when made with a small quantity of cream of tartar to prevents sugar from granulating. Make into soft ball, 238°F. With practice you will be able to decide when syrup has boiled to the right temperature. This can be done two ways by sound while boiling, and by testing in cold water. These may seem difficult at first, but only a little experience is necessary to make fondant successfully. Until then a sugar thermometer is often employed because it makes it easier to achieve the right temperature.

Here a finished product with out fancy pastel colored icing and other embellishment. My family eats my deserts up so quickly I rarely have the time to take proper pictures. The recipe I will list below will more than likely not be the one featured here in the pictures, but I may add the recipe for old fashion fondant.

Here is a sample of an old fashion recipe I used and then a sample of a more simple recipe.

Need a tooth pick, large bowl a electric mixer, baking pan of 15 x 10 x 1 inch pan, sauce pan, large wooden spoon, wire rack, knife, a pasty brush.

How to make Simple Poured Fondant:

Heat sugar, water and corn syrup to the soft-ball stage (238°F; 114°C). Pour into the food processor fitted with the steel blade. Wash the candy thermometer well and reinsert into the syrup. Let the syrup cool undisturbed in the work bowl to 140°F (60°C), about 30 minutes. Remove the thermometer. Add any coloring or flavoring (vanilla, almond extract, etc.) and process 2 to 3 minutes, until the syrup completely converts from a glassy syrup to an opaque paste. When thoroughly cooled, store sealed at room temperature for 24 hours. Use or refrigerate for later use.

Next is the simple verison of making Petite Fours:

Now everyone has a prefence on using wax paper, parchment, spray, or greasing the pan then lightly dusting the pan with flour. I have found that greasing the pan and using flour is my first choice. As well as using parchment because, unlike wax paper, does not need to be greased, less damage, and is easier. I recommend you lightly grease or line your cake pan, but is not absolutely necessary.

1) Bake 1 white cake mix in an 11 x 15 inch pan. Spray with cooking spray then lined with parchment and set oven to 350 degrees. If you desire, you may use shortening instead of cooking spray. Make sure to apply to both the bottom and sides of the pan. Next, lightly flour the pan, but only if you don't use parchment. Now I prefer to also grease the parchment and I have found this way is the best.

Now if you are greasing and adding flour to your pan here's a tip. Shake the pan to spread the flour. Next turn it upside down and tap on it to remove excess flour. I find unbleached white flour is best for dusting your bake pan. Non stick spray, oil or shortening is best to use for greasing your cake pan. Salted Butter or non salted margarine are not recommended because they do not work as well.

2) Sift dry ingredients. Beat all ingredients in a large bowl, except egg whites, with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on high for 2 minutes then add egg whites. Beat in egg whites to mixture on high speed for 2 minutes until combined. Fold eggs gently into batter. Pour batter into pan. If starting from scratch then also hold off on adding sugar along with the eggs and follow above directions. (Tip: Separating eggs are easiest while they are cold and blending them is easier when they a warm. Break your eggs into a bowl while they are cold and then let them warm up in room temp 5 mins or microwave eggs on low for a few seconds. Follow with mixing the eggs together.) Bake until toothpick in center comes out clean or until the cake springs back when touched lightly in center. If this is your first try bake until set, about 25 minutes and keep watch ,every oven is different. Remove from oven and let cakes cool about 1o minutes. Remove from pan and allow cake to cool on a rack. Cool completely for 1 hour.

3) Once cake is completely cooled, ice only top part of cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Apply a sheet of waxed paper over the buttercream making sure to get all the wrinkles out of the waxed paper. Wrap well in plastic wrap and put in freezer. Let cake freeze for at least 12 hours.

(Why do you freeze? This important technique is used to reduce the amount of crumbs that get into the run-over fondant when pouring. )

4) Next day mix up poured fondant ingredients in a 3 qt. pot with handle. Poured fondant recipe is 3/4 cup of water (depending on your preference) stirred in a measuring cup with 1/2 cups of light corn syrup, then mixed in the pot with 2 lbs. ( 1 bag ) of confectioner's or powdered sugar, next add 1tsp. almond extract, right before pouring. If you choose to you may want to add 1 teaspoon or more of hot water.)

PETITE FOURS TIPS . 1. I sometimes like to use Dry Candy Fondant. Add water to consistency (color and flavor). Heat but NEVER boil or get too hot. I forget what the exact temp is then I remember temp should not reach over 100 degrees! Re-heat when it cools too much. Use of a candy thermometer is a great way to keep safe on heating. (Heating too much causes icing to thicken - add more water if this happens). 2. Petit fours take a long time to do and are consequently very expensive!

5) While fondant is warming on stove on lowest heat; remove cake from freezer. Unwrap and cut off all edges with a long, sharp knife dipped in hot water then wiped dry. (Tip: keeping the knife hot and clean will give cleaner cuts. I dip my knife in water and wipe dry after every 2nd cut.)

6) After edges are cut off take a ruler and toothpick and measure 1 1/2" increments around the cake. This will insure uniform-size cuts. Make cuts using sharp knife dipped in hot water then wiped clean. Cut one sheet in half. Wrap the other half and the other full sheet for other use. With a large serrated knife, cut the cake into two layers.

Tip: Running a Knife Under the Cakes Once All Cuts are Made Makes Them Easier to Pull Off Parchment.

7) In the process of making these cuts I periodically stir my poured fondant. As I stated before Make Sure Pot Doesn't Get Too Hot! If you feel it is getting too hot while you are cutting your cakes take it off the burner for a bit.

8) Put individual cakes on a wire rack placed over a 12 x 18 cake pan. Make sure they don't touch sides.

9) After all cakes are cut and placed on the wire rack, stir fondant again making sure all lumps are gone; then add almond extract; mix well and begin pouring. (Tip: Pour directly from the pot; starting in the middle of the petit four cake and then circling around the edges until all sides of each cake are covered.) Continue this process until all fondant is poured. Put a thin coat of buttercream icing on the petite fours before spooning or pouring the fondant over them. Your fondant has to be just right. Too thin and the cake will show through - Too thick and they are not pleasant to eat. To hot and it is too thin - Too cold and it won't pour.

10) Take wire rack off of 12 x 18 pan so that you can scrape fondant from the pan with a plastic spatula back into pot ; reheat; adding just a drop of water if necessary to thin it a bit. Reheating shouldn't take more than 2-4 minutes. Remember, bottom of pot should not get so hot you can't touch it. Repeat pouring process until all cakes are coated.

11) Transfer cakes to cupcake papers using a wide icing spatula and decorate as desired.

Hope this helps someone!

I have several receipes on Petit Fours and Fondant. I will next be post a blog on homemade pumpkin bread, homemade whip cream, chocolate covered cherries, and Organic plum, apple, and nut bread. Each are made from scratch I have taken a few pictures and will post them all with the receipes or exsperience.

Coming up next: Oatmeal and Chocolate Chip cookies, Plum Bread, Homemade Whip Cream, Pumpkin Bread and Pumpkin Pie. Here two pictures below until the next baking post. Please enjoy and leave a comment.

Organic Sugar Plum Bread: 2 lofts made out of two different pans.

Pumpkin Spice Bread

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