Petit Fours Made Easy!

I was having a chocolate craving yesterday, almost everyday it seems, the “feel good” affect it has on my brain is due to the phenethylamine in the chocolate that effects our bodies serotonin levels.  I think it affects my body more so, I cannot go a day without chocolate.

So since I needed my choco-fix I decided to make petit fours.  I started with my favorite chocolate cake recipe on the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa box.  I think that this is the best choco cake recipe, it is deliciously moist, and oh soooo……. chocolatey!

Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake

  • 2 Cup sugar
  • 1 3/4 Cup flour
  • 3/4 Cup Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup milk
  • 1/2 Cup veggie oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla (the good stuff!)
  • 1 Cup boiling water

Mix dry ingredients together, I do this with a wire whisk, then add wet ingredients except boiling water.  Mix until well combined, then mix in boiling water thoroughly. The batter will be rather thin, but that is how it is suppose to be.  Pour into two 9″ pans, that have been greased and floured, I use cocoa powder instead of flour, because I don’t like the bottom of my chocolate cake to be streaked with white flour. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 – 35 minutes.

Since I was going to make petit fours, I decided to halve the recipe because I didn’t want too many on hand.( too much of a temptation)  I also used a rectangle pan, this made it much easier to cut the petit fours. When making petit fours I think you have an easier time freezing the cake before you cut them.  It really cuts down on crumbs and you get a much nicer slice this way. 

I preceded to cut the cake into rectangles, approximately 2″ x 4″, don’t worry about making them exact, I remember in pastry school they were so strict about cutting the petit fours all the same size, I like the fact that they are not perfect, it gives a rustic appeal to your small desserts.  Let’s face it perfection is boring!

Now whip up some butter creme frosting, use your favorite recipe. I kept the frosting vanilla because we are going to cover them with a Regal Chocolate glaze. Using the huge star tip, I don’t know the number of it, but the largest star tip you have.  If you don’t have a star tip, just cut the tip of your disposable pastry bag larger than usual. I piped three large stars on top of each rectangular cake. If you are using a plain pastry bag without a tip just pipe three large dollops.  Put them into the freezer to set up the butter creme, this way when you pour the warm glaze over them the butter creme will not melt.

Regal Chocolate Glaze

  • 8 oz semi sweet chocolate chips (Hershey’s are the best)
  • 4 oz butter
  • 1/2 Cup hot tap water

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave for one minute, then stir, microwave for thirty seconds at a time until melted. Stir together thoroughly, then stir in boiling water. You have to melt the chocolate and butter together first before you add the hot water or your chocolate may seize.( tighten up into a glop!)

Remove your small cakes from the freezer and pour the glaze over each one with a large soup spoon. I think you have more control with a large spoon, rather then pouring the glaze directly out of the bowl.

Now is the fun part, decorate with butter creme, or as I have with chocolate decorations.  I had some leftover white and blue chocolate candy discs, so I melted them separately and made a small cone bag out of wax paper.  I used the back of a sheet tray that I had covered with saran wrap and let my imagination go wild piping designs out of the white and blue chocolate. Refrigerate to allow your decorations to set up, then put them onto your glazed petit fours.You have now officially made a small confection that the French call Petit Four! Wasn’t that easy! Just because these may have a fancy name it doesn’t mean we can’t easily make them!  Bon Appetit, Petit Four!

Ciabatta Bread Cha-Cha!

I was in search of a really good Ciabatta bread recipe. I searched on-line to no avail, the recipes I viewed had a twenty-four hour starter. This would be too time consuming for a commercial business. You see, I needed to make a loaf of Ciabatta for my edible resume for an interview. I had never made Ciabatta before, so I wanted a recipe that was straight-forward.

I looked through a variety of bread books at the library, tried a few recipes, but I was not thrilled with the texture. The Ciabattas that I made did not have the large holes that this bread is known for, nor the chewy crust. As I read through the bread books I did learn the origin of the name; Ciabatta means “slipper”, that is why the dough is elongated in shape.

I scoured the internet again, and I found this recipe Jason’s Quick Coccodrillo Ciabatta Bread. Jason you are the man! This bread only takes four and a half hours total time and is absolutely fantastic! Follow his directions, he will not steer you wrong. As you can see in the picture below, there are the holes (caused by yeast fermenting and expelling carbon dioxide) that are characteristic of Ciabatta bread.Jason you have me doing the Ciabatta Cha- Cha! I am so excited about finding your recipe and you are spot on with texture, airiness, taste and the crusty chew.

You must try this recipe, this bread would be delish with a spaghetti dinner.  So when you are ready to serve, don’t just walk this bread to the table, make sure you cha-cha the Ciabatta to your guests!

P.B. & Jelly Sweet Roll

I had a craving for a cinnamon bun, so I pulled out a recipe that I have been wanting to try for a while now. The recipe is from bon appetite, March 2009 issue, it’s called Yukon Gold Cinnamon Rolls. I know it may sound odd to add one pound of mashed yukon gold potatoes to a sweet roll recipe, but think of the texture of potato bread. Potato bread is soft and almost moist tasting, well this is how this sweet roll dough tastes. I must say I have been looking for a yummy cinnamon roll recipe for a long time, and this one is the best I have ever tasted. I was impressed with the texture and taste of this dough that I wanted to change the filling and the glaze.  I love a P.B. & Jelly and I think a lot of people do, so what about a sweet roll, same dough, but change the filling to peanut butter and top it with a black raspberry glaze! Hmmm… Let me tell you the recipe for the filling and the glaze, you be the judge of this spin on a P.B.& Jelly sweet roll.

Make the Yukon Gold Cinnamon Roll recipe, don’t change a thing with this, but use my recipes for the filling and the glaze.

Peanut Butter Filling

  • 2 2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 6 Tblsp flour
  • 1 1/2 Cup Peanut Butter (creamy)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Mix until crumbly, substitute this for the cinnamon filling. Proceed with directions in recipe.

Let buns cool until lukewarm, then ice with Black Raspberry Glaze, you can use any flavor of jam that you like, I am a fanatic for black raspberry.

Jelly Glaze

  • 4 Cup Powder sugar
  • 1/4 Cup softened butter (half a stick)
  • 1/2 Cup Black Raspberry Jam Seedless (not jelly, jam is thicker!)

Mix together on low speed until combined, scrape sides of bowl, then mix on high speed for 3 minutes. It will be a thick glaze, more like a butter cream.

Eat them while warm and don’t forget a tall glass of milk.  Now close your eyes and you should feel like a kid again. P.B.& Jelly sweet roll with a glass of cold milk, it doesn’t get any better than this!