August 27, 2010

The Daring Bakers' Challenge August 2010: Petit Fours

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I am so happy to finally be back to my Daring Bakers’ challenges routine. I missed the July challenge because it involved too much ice cream making for my tiny tiny tiny (did you get it already? It’s tiny!) freezer to keep. This month too the challenge involved ice cream making but only in part. So I was able to catch up with the whole “making home made ice cream” idea that I missed last month and to apply it to....duh duh duh duh….petit fours! As you read above, the choice was between Baked Alaska and Ice Cream Petit Fours but I have to admit I had no doubt I was going for the latter. First of all, I do not have a cooking blow torch to burn the tips of the meringue. I wanted to take advantage of this challenge to buy one but with the whole house-buying story going on we are on a tight budget….it’s still in my wish list of course. But the other reason why I had no doubt I was going to make petit fours is that I have been wanting to make them since a long time. In reality, they are nothing else than a cake cut into small squares. But…how cute are these little squares! As some of you have noticed, I have a weakness for single portions desserts and petit fours are simply among the cutest single portion dessert I know of.

I am not going to post the recipe for the homemade icecream because you have probably seen it on many blogs for the past Daring Bakers’ Challenge. As per the cake, I have to admit that I was very scared about making brown butter. I am known to be really good at burning things and I was pretty sure I was going to cross the fine line between brown butter and burnt butter. Elissa gave us a wonderful link to a post with step-by-step pictures about browning butter. It was very useful because I did not burnt it. Yuhuuu. Thanks to that the cake came out! It is true: brown butter can bring the taste of a cake to a whole new level. So, without further ado, here is the recipe for the cake and the link.

Brown Butter Pound Cake

19 tbsp (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour
1 tsp (5g) baking powder
1/2 tsp (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.

Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes. [This is the link to the post about browning butter:

Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.

Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.

Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.

Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.

Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

I decided to follow the instructions for covering the petit fours with chocolate glaze. You know I am not crazy about chocolate so I was not very excited about covering these amazing cake and I covered only a few of them, for Wally, and kept the others uncovered for me. I used a normal Chocolate Ganache. Here is the recipe:

Chocolate Ganache for glazing
9 ounces (250g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract

Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate.

Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

To Assemble
Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so that there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze for several hours.

Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.

Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.

Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)

While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).

Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.
[Here is a great link to a video on how to glaze petit fours – fast forward to 3:00 minutes. Includes poured fondant recipe)

Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

And then remember: never try to take photos of desserts involving ice cream when in your house it’s 95degrees!

Have a sweet day!


  1. Sara! You lied..yours look way better than mine! Not to mention you added a little flower ha but I can see the ice cream seeping through on the bottom :) I hope next months has nothing to do with ice cream!

  2. Believe me, in pic it looks so much better but it was a pain to take photos. I had to put them back in the freezer every 2 seconds to see if I could make them hard again :(

  3. Wow! These petit fours look too cute to eat:)

  4. I have never made petit fours, yours look so good with that rich chocolate glaze!

  5. Great job on the petit fours! That chocolate ganache looks reeeally yummy. I've gotta stop typing now, as I feel some drooling coming on. :D

  6. Oh gosh! How can you guys say they are cute! The were totally not well shaped and they were all melting after 2 seconds they were out of the freezer! I have to say, though, they were a lot of fun to make....and to eat!

  7. Sara, you are a baking maven. Everything you post makes me wish I was your neighbor so I can shamelessly ask for bites of your creations. These petit fours are darling! Really, what's next? :-)

  8. Jean, you are as always very sweet. You have no idea how much I wish you were my neighbor so I could have your bruschetta and I would have somebody to share my baking friends unfortunately are not really foodies and sometimes I don't have anybody to talk about my baking with :( I'm glad I have you guys :)

  9. I love bite-sized treats- these look like they'd be really yummy!

  10. When I was 14 I received a box of petit fours at a holiday exchange at my work... someone told me "Oh, you won't like those, they are for old people." So not true!! I loved those from the box, and I can only imagine how good these are!!

  11. Hi sara, great job with the challenge! I feel your pain, the melting was driving me nuts and we are in the middle of winter!!! I am also hoping that ice cream is not included in the next challenge!!

  12. PS - I am also lacking a blowtorch (wishlist!!!) so I went with the petit fours for the same reason!! :)

  13. i went the baked alaska route. i'm a little jealous. the petit fours are just SO cute. lovely job!

  14. Cath: I saw your petit fours...they are soooo adorable and at least you were able to put them on a stand...I could not even move them from the cutting board I put them in the freezer with.
    @Jana: I really wish I could go for the baked alaska....yours was adorable.
    I have an unfinished business with petit fours. I love them but I want to make them not in ice cream form. Let's all home the next daring bakers' challenge does not involve ice cream. My freezer sucks!

  15. Good grief you're me with curly red hair! We already know that we both don't like chocolate, but I didn't realize that you lust after a kitchen blow torch like I do or that your freezer space is minimal so you cry every time you see a wonderful ice cream recipe that you can't make!

    Your petit fours are lovely, gorgeous and absolutely edible (except for the chocolate part). :)

  16. I know, Christiane, you are like my lost twin on the other side of the US. I keep thinking you should move to the sunny (not so much this year!) California and be my neighbor. We would always agree on what to bake/cook next....I would be a bit more concern about us having a blow torch...I can't imagine the disasters that could happen while we are chit chatting :)

  17. Your petit fours came out great! Wonderful job on the challenge. :-)


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