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In the 80s, my family would receive a catalog (name withheld to protect the colonial Swiss) that was filled with mail-order gifts like sausage and cheese. The highlight of the catalog were these perfect little tiny cakes called “petit fours.” I would dream of ordering the giant box of them, of course they would be more delicous than regular cakes: These are micro cakes! As an adult, I finally was able to try the catalog cakes, and they really are just tiny cakes. My partner and I had a chance to try the real thing at a tiny bakery near our house and we had to try our hands at making them.

(Side note: Petit fours is French for “small oven” and is a reference to early wood or coal ovens having only two temperatures: Roaring hot (the grand four), and cooling down. The petit fours were cooked during this cooling down period. Petit four now typically refers to a specific category of dessert. The petit fours we’re making are “petits four glace” or tiny cakes glazed with icing.

The secret to making a cake that works on such a tiny scale is to use a very dense cake that isn’t super spongy. We went with a frangipan. If you don’t like the taste of almonds, you would definitely want to go with a pound cake recipe. I was expecting to be overwhelmed by the taste of almonds, but it really went well with the cherry and chocolate. We did a layer of cherry and two layers of chocolate and used dark chocolate ganache for our coating. I think the small size coupled with the intense cherry / almond / chocolate was fantastic. They were the perfect accompaniment for a cup of coffee.

Some notes: This is not a quick recipe. The cake has to chill overnight. You'll also need a lot of pans and a lot of patience. You'll be making cakes and fillings and this is even with us taking a bunch of shortcuts. However, stay the course and you'll be rewarded with a delicious treat that no catalog could ever deliver.

Step 1: Ingredients

Frangipane (Almond Cake)

One of the secrets to good baking is weighing your ingredients. Weighing rather than measuring ingredients by volume gives more consistent results. If you don't have a food scale, you can pick them up fairly cheap online. We had gotten ours originally for weighing coffee, but it's been great for baking as well. I did try to put an estimate of the quantity in parenthesis because it definitely makes it easier when you're shopping.

Also, you'll see a couple of ingredients listed twice. This is because you will use them at different times, so it's just easier to weigh them separately.

Note: All your cake ingredients should be at room temperature

  • 13 ounce Almond Paste (Almost two boxes)
  • 4 ounce Sugar
  • 1 ounce Egg (You'll use around 9-10 large eggs total for this recipe.)
  • 9 ounce Sugar
  • 6.5 ounce Unsalted Butter (Around a stick and a quarter)
  • 6.5 ounce Shortening (About a cup)
  • 12 ounce Eggs
  • 1/4 ounce Vanilla extract (About 1/8 a cup)
  • 6 ounce Cake Flour (Sifted) (Around a cup)

Bottom Covering

  • Marzipan Dough - Chilled (We used a 7 oz. box, but you could always make your own.)

Filling

  • A jar of your favorite preserves (You could also make your own fruit filling. Just make sure it's isn't too chunky. We thinned ours with a little warm water, just to make it more spreadable.)

Ganache Coating / Filling

  • 16 oz Dark Chocolate (Four big Ghirardelli-sized bars of chocolate)
  • 16 oz Heavy Cream (One pint)

Decoration

  • Your favorite buttercream icing, royal icing, fondant, etc. You could also use dragees (the little hard shelled silver candies) or sprinkles

Note: You'll need 8 to 10 pounds of weights (for compressing the cake pans later).

Outstanding write up and photos! Thank you!
<p>They say nice things come in little packages, and these look mighty nice </p>
<p>Thank you! Definitely not as pretty as the ones in the stores, but certainly more delicious!</p>

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Bio: I have another website at http://www.curiousgood.com/ where I documented a lot of my prop replica projects. I love making, and I'm ... More »
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