Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, DKB

This was supposed to be a post to celebrate DKB's first anniversary (Jan 7--very exciting), but the days kind of slipped away on me. Now I'm holed up for a snow day and can finally post.

I wanted to make some kind of cake for the first anniversary of my first blog, and petits fours seemed the perfect way to mark one year--momentous but still small enough not to risk over-celebration. I made these particular petits fours with an old friend, Dawn, who suggested them for our baking get-together. Neither of us had ever made them, and our final product came out unique. Our petits fours are a sort of modern take on the traditional light-colored ones that are completely coated in some kind of frosting. I imagine these little bites would also be perfect for the first birthday of a baby.

Petits Fours
From the Joy of Cooking 70th Anniversary Edition

yield: about 80 1-inch squares

Genoise Cake
1. Prepare your pans: Have all ingredients at room temperature. Prepare a 13X9 inch pan (line with parchment and flour, or butter and flour). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Sift together three times and return to the sifter:
1 1/4 C sifted cake flour
1/4 cup sugar

3. Melt in a small saucepan:
1/3 cup (5 1/3 TBSP) unsalted butter
Set aside.

4. Whisk together in a large heatproof bowl:
6 large eggs
3/4 C sugar
Set the bowl in a skillet of barely simmering water and whisk constantly until the mixture is warm to the touch (about 110 degrees F). Remove the bowl from the heat and beat on high speed until the mixture is lemony-colored, has tripled in volume, and has looks like a continuous flat ribbon when dropped from a spoon (about 5 minutes in a heavy-duty mixer with thewhisk attachment, 10-15 minutes with a hand-held mixer).

5. In 3 additions, sift the flour mixture over the top and fold in very gently with a rubber spatula.

6. Reheat the butter until it is hot and transfer to a medium bowl. Fold about 1 1/2 cups of the egg mixture into the butter until completely incorporated, along with: 1 teaspoon vanilla. Scrape the mixture into the remaining egg mixture and fold in.

7. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Baking time will be 28 to 30 minutes. Bake just until the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed and a toothpick inserted into a few places comes out clean. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack.

8. Cut the finished cake crosswise in half and spread one of the halves with: 1 Cup jam, heated and strained or pureed for easy spreading, or a filling or buttercream of your choice. Stack the layers, with the uncoated piece on top. Cakes filled with jam should be weighted: Place the filled cakes on a cookie sheet and cover the top and sides with plastic wrap. Place a second cookie sheet on top and weight with canned goods to level and compact the layers so they will not come apart when cut into small shapes. Refrigerate for several hours, until firm, or wrap and freeze for up to 3 months.

9. To cut and glaze the petits fours: Genoise cakes are best when brushed with Moistening Syrup (the recipe above is genoise batter). Cut the cake into small squares or bars with a sharp serrated knife; 1 inch squares will provide the classic two-bite-size cake. Or, with cookie or canape cutters, cut the cake into small squares or diamonds, rounds or hearts, or other shapes. (This may yield larger-and therefore fewer, petits fours.)

10. Place the cakes 1 inch apart on a wire grid or rack set on a baking sheet. Spoon Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze over each one. Chill or let stand to set the coating. Once set, you can decorate the petits fours with pieces of candied violets or rose petals, candied fruits, etc.

Moistening Syrup
(Makes about 1 cup)

1. Combine in a small saucepan:
1 Cupsugar
2/3 Cup water

2. Cook, stirring gently, over low heat just until the sugar is dissolved; the syrup does not have to come to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let cool, uncovered, before using. This keeps in a covered jar for up to 3 weeks at room temperature or up to 6 months refrigerated.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze or Frosting
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups)

1. Bring to a boil in a small saucepan:
3/4 cup heavy cream

2. Remove from the heat and add:
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Stir until most of the chocolate is melted. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes, then stir or whisk very gently until completely smooth. Stir in: (1 tablespoon liqueur, or more to taste)--optional

*For a pourable glaze, let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until the ganache cools to about 85 degrees to 95 degrees for use as a glaze. This keeps for up to 3 days at room temperature or up to 1 week refrigerated.


Brewfus said...

The perfect cake for those of us who liked to eat things whole!!! I miss these little wonders...

brubaker wildflower said...

You're back!!! Yahoo!! And with your official taster and biggest fan reaping the benefits, I see!!!
xoxo margie and michael

Almost Precious said...

Good to see your cooking and blogging again. Missed you. :)