Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Starting to Look A Lot Like Christmas.....

Tree is up, mantle is decorated (first working fireplace I've had since I was eleven - Yay!!), plans for treats to make are set and prezzies are in the works.  This also means I am stitching up a storm.  In the past I've stuck pretty closely to red and white ornaments with the odd scotty ( template courtesy of  Allsorts ) thrown in.

This year I've decided I need to branch out a little bit.  I think these stars need to be stitched to a ribbon to make a garland.  Just what a plain white mantle needs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Petit Fours

I have for a long time, had this obsession with these wee desserts.  They seem impossibly chic and European, like the haute couture of the pastry world.  I have over the years tried to make them with little success.  Years ago there was an article about them in Gourmet magazine for Valentines Day and it included the instructions for making the fondant from scratch, pouring sugar syrup onto a marble slab and scraping endlessly until it was opaque and pliable.  These cakes didn't work for me then either, but it was my first introduction to the candy thermometre.  Peggy Porschen includes them in her books, making them look easy and using a powdered fondant for dipping.  Well I guess this elusive powdered fondant must be another 'found in the UK only' kind of product as I've had no luck sourcing it here or in Halifax.  Well I just had to give it another go.  Food Processor Poured Fondant seemed to be the answer.  It would cover these perfectly right?

No such luck.  I thinned it with sugar syrup as I'd read, positioned my hand just as I see in Porschen's step by step photos. frustrating and I hate to waste good ingredients.  I had been so sure these were going to work out this time that I'd even made homemade marzipan for the tops. (totally yummy and not hard at all to do, by the way)  So I finally decided to use rolled fondant to cover - that has been what I've seen all over the web so I figure there must be a reason why everyone is doing it.

Yes, they look lovely.  But they really are a lot of work, stretching and smoothing the fondant over each, one at a time.  After these two I gave up and put everything away and went to bed.  In my sleep, I was dipping cookies into the poured fondant. It was really bugging me that I couldn't get this down.
This morning, after a good run,  I decided to give it another go.  This time I thinned down the fondant quite a bit more than I had the night before, using the rest of the sugar syrup.

both types of petit fours

This is the finish I was hoping for.  They are paler than the original ones as I only tinted half the fondant, and used all of it together.

One of the reasons I keep going back and trying to get this poured fondant to work is that  I love, love, love the texture of it.  Because the fondant is cooked to the soft ball stage, the finished product has a wonderful 'chewiness' to it.  I also believe that dipping is faster than covering and these are already enough work as is.  There is still work to do, they have more of a matte finish and from all I've read, the finish should be shiny.
Yes these are INCREDIBLY sweet.   Next batch I will make them smaller, but they are supposed to be a real 'once in a blue moon' treat.  I am thinking of using something tart in place of the raspberry jam to try and balance them, but please don't expect if you try these that they are anything other than pure sugar.  Definitely not an every day dessert.
Stay tuned, I plan to make these again and document the steps.  At that time I will post all the recipes as well.
I have so many of these now from this batch.....what the hell am I going to do with them????