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History of Petit Fours
Petit four which simply means “small oven” is the precise name for those miniature cakes that you find on trays at parties and on the table at elegant dinners. They are present as mini pastries made of cream and fruit. The ability of chefs and restaurateurs to create new and special types of petit fours is limitless. They can serve as an appetizer or as a full meal, depending on the circumstances.
If you’re not sure why starters are called ovens, here’s the answer for you. There were no gas ovens in France in the 19th century. The bread oven was the only type of oven at that time. It was a huge stone hut, under which a fire would be lit. These types of ovens took a long time to start up, got really hot for a while, and then took a long time to die. Plus it didn’t really have a knob to turn to change the heat. In fact, it only had two settings.
The first place was the big oven, where the fire was the strongest. This setting was used when roasting roasts, boars, pigs, beef ribs, vegetable and potato trays.
The second environment was the petit four, when the fire began to go out and the heat to weaken. This setting was used when individual pastries and small appetizers could be baked to serve with tea. Thus, the novelty in terms of preparation became petit fours.
Petite Fours Recipe (by landolakes)
1 (18 1/2 ounce) package white cake mix
1/2 teaspoon of almond extract
3 cups of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups of water
1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon of almond or vanilla extract
3 drops of food coloring
Candy flowers, as desired
Top with flowers, if desired
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 2 (8-inch) square baking pans. Set aside.
Prepare cake mix according to package directions, adding 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract with water. Divide the cake batter evenly between the prepared molds. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from the container. Cool completely. Trim the edges of the cake; cut each cake into 24 (1 1/2 x 1-inch) pieces.
Mix sugar, cream of tartar and water in a 3 liter pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a full boil (12 to 14 minutes). Cover; cook for 3 minutes. To find out; continue cooking until a candy thermometer reaches (228°F. to 234°F.) or until a small amount of mixture dropped into ice water forms a soft 2-inch string (15 to 20 minutes). Remove from heat; cool to 110°F. or until the bottom of the bowl is slightly warm to the touch (do not stir) (1 hour). Mix in powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of almond extract and food coloring.
Place a wire rack on a baking sheet. Place the cake pieces cut side up on the wire rack. Carefully spread the frosting over the edges of the cake pieces using a small spatula or spoon. Spoon about 1 tablespoon on top of each cake and let it drizzle down the sides. Repeat, coating each piece twice, if necessary. (If the glaze becomes too thick, heat again on low heat until it is thin and easy to pour (2 to 3 minutes)). Scrape the glaze off the baking sheet; reuse if necessary. If desired, decorate each petit four with candy flowers or icing flowers.
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