Petit Fours (Baking, Frosting, and Decorating Petit Fours)

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Homemade Petit Fours (Clockwise from the top left: Lemon, Strawberry, Hazelnut, and Tiramisu)

Petit Fours are small bite-sized confections, served as a dessert or as a sweet treat with tea or coffee.  The name “petit four” is French, which translates to “small oven”.  There are many types of Petit Fours, but the most common are little cakes (often with some sort of filling) which are glazed and decorated.

For the cake, you can use any basic white cake, vanilla cake, or pound cake recipe – just bake in a 9″ X 13″ pan.  Because it was so time-consuming to make Petit Fours, I decided to make things easy on myself and used a boxed cake mix this time.  White vanilla cake is very versatile because you can combine it with  various syrups/liqueurs and fillings to make different flavor combinations.

These were the flavor variations that I chose to make this time:

  • Lemon:  Limoncello soak, lemon curd filling.
  • Tiramisu:  Kahlua soak, filling was a mixture of 3 oz cream cheese with 2 T. sugar.
  • Hazelnut:  Frangelico soak, Nutella filling.
  • Strawberry:  Absolut Vanilla soak, strawberry jam filling.

I have some other ideas for different flavor combinations I might try in the future:

  • Raspberry:  Amaretto soak, raspberry jam filling.
  • Coconut Lime:  Malibu Rum soak, lime curd filling.
  • Sacher Torte:  Chocolate Cake, Creme de Cacao or Amaretto soak, apricot jam filling, melted chocolate coating.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly:  Chambord soak, peanut butter filling.
If you don’t want to soak your cake layers in liqueur (alcohol), you can substitute with flavored simple syrups (the kind you add to coffee).

I tried two different poured fondant recipes.  The first one I tried was a disaster – it was much too translucent – so I tried doing two coats (instead of one) – and the fondant ended up oddly thick and lumpy.  Those were some ugly Petit Fours!!!  I don’t recommend using that recipe!  The second recipe I tried (below) actually worked pretty well – it was easier to work with (since you use the microwave), and gave a much more opaque coating that was nice and smooth.

You might be tempted to make these cakes, dip them, and decorate them all at once.  Do not make this mistake!  You need to make sure that you give your assembled cakes time to freeze solid so that you can cut them cleanly (and dip them without letting them fall apart).  Leave them in the freezer at least overnight – I left mine in for about 18 hours.

Petit Fours:

Make your own dipping fork! Just take a disposable plastic fork and break off the two inner tines. Voila! Dipping fork!

  • one 9″ X 13″ vanilla cake
  • 2 c. (one can) vanilla frosting
  • various liqueurs (kahlua, limoncello, vanilla vodka, frangelico, etc.) or flavored simple syrups
  • various fillings (lemon curd, jam, nutella, cream cheese mixed with sugar, etc.)

Petit Four Poured Fondant:

  • about 7-8 cups powdered sugar
  • about 3/4 – 1 c. hot water
  • 1 c. vegetable shortening (crisco)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. almond or clear vanilla extract
  • food coloring (optional)

1.  Bake your cake.  I just used a regular boxed white cake mix, in a 9″X13″ baking pan lined with nonstick foil (for easy removal).   You can use your favorite white cake or pound cake recipe – or just use boxed cake mix like I did here to make it easier.

2.  Allow your cake to cool.  Using a cake leveler, slice off a very thin layer of cake off the top.  If you have a steady hand, you can do this freehand – but I don’t – so I used my Wilton Cake Leveler.

3.  Cut the cake in half vertically and horizontally – so that you end up with 4 smaller 4.5″X 6.5″ rectangular cakes.  (I used each quarter to make a different flavor.)  Take one of the cake quarters and using a serrated bread knife, carefully slice the cake horizontally into 3 very thin layers.  (When the cakes are smaller like this, it’s easier to freehand the cake layers.)

4.  You should now have 3 thin sections of cake.  (You will reassemble them in just a moment.)  Place the bottom layer on top of a piece of non-stick foil, and using a pastry brush – tap on about 1-2 T. worth of liqueur (limoncello in this photo).  (Yes, I know the first layer of cake is not on foil in this photo – that was my mistake this time!  It worked out much better for the next few flavors when I started on the foil so that I didn’t have to move the soaked cake to the foil afterwards.)

5.  Spread a few tablespoons of filling over your first layer (I used lemon curd).

6.  Top with the second layer and repeat.  Place the final layer on top, and soak that with a little bit of liqueur also.

 

 

 

 

7.  Frost the top of the cake with a thin layer of vanilla frosting, then wrap in foil and freeze overnight.  (Make sure you don’t skip this step!  You want the cake to be frozen so that it is easier to cut and holds together when your pour the fondant over it.)  Repeat with the remaining 3 sections of cake – feel free to use other flavors and mix it up if you like.

8.  The next day, take one section of cake out of the freezer, and using a clean ruler as a guide, mark off a one-inch grid pattern.  Cut off the sides, then cut out the grid so that you end up with 12 one-inch squares with smooth/straight edges.  Set aside the cake scraps for a snack, then re-wrap the cake squares in foil and put back in the freezer for at least another 30 minutes.  Repeat with the remaining cake sections.

9.  To make the poured fondant, melt the shortening in the microwave.

10.  Add about 5 cups of powdered sugar, and stir to make a paste.

11.  Carefully add about half of the hot water, and stir until it is almost uniform (you will have a few lumps).

12.  Put the bowl back into the microwave for another 30 seconds, then add more hot water and sugar until you have a pourable consistency.  (Microwave to loosen it up for a few seconds when needed.)  Use a whisk to break up all the lumps and get the fondant very smooth.  Add the salt and flavoring.

13.  To dip your petit fours, use a dipping fork (or my “free” dipping fork – a plastic fork with the inner tines broken off).  Remove one of the foil packets containing cake squares from the freezer.  Place one frozen square on the fork, then hold over the bowl of fondant.

14.  Use a large spoon to scoop fondant over the square – several times – making sure you coat all sides.  Let the excess fondant drain off.    (You will get a few crumbs in the fondant – but most will slide right off and will not show up in your final product.)  Microwave for 15 seconds every so often to loosen up the fondant if it gets too thick, and whisk often.  If you want to tint your fondant for a section of cake, put some of the fondant into a glass Pyrex measuring cup and stir in 1 drop of food coloring.  You may have to microwave for a few seconds more often, as the smaller quantity will get thick faster.

15.  Use a skewer to push the petit four off the dipping fork onto a wire rack to set.  Let your Petit Fours rest on a rack (oil the rack with a little bit of vegetable oil to prevent sticking) until the coating has solidified.

16.  Once your petit fours are all coated, and the fondant is set – you can decorate.  You  can pipe all sorts of patterns on the petit fours – but the easiest (but also elegant looking) design is just a simple drizzle in a contrasting color.  I used the leftover white fondant as a drizzle over the colored petit fours (Microwave the leftover white fondant in a Ziploc bag for a few seconds and snip off a tiny bit of the plastic bag corner, then use the bag to drizzle over the surface of the Petit Fours).  To make the chocolate drizzle, I just added a few teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the leftover white fondant – then put that into a Ziploc bag to use as a drizzle over the white petit fours.  For the tiramisu flavored petit fours, I dusted a little bit of cocoa powder over the top and added a coffee bean.  Be creative!

17.  Place your petit fours into small paper cupcake liners for a more elegant presentation.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.

Comments

  1. Amy says:

    Just wonder what is the texture of the cake is like after it is done. Is it retain its original texture (moist and soft ) after it is store in the refrigerator for several day. Also does the fondant melt if you leave it out at room temperature for so long or do you have to eat it right after it is being remove from the frig?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi Amy,
      If you use the liqueur (or flavored syrup) soak… then the cake texture stays very soft and moist, kind of like the texture you would expect from tiramisu. The fondant will not melt at room temperature (but it will become softer) – but since I used somewhat perishable ingredients in the filling (lemon curd, cream cheese) – the petit fours needed to be refrigerated to avoid spoiling. Also refrigeration allows you to keep them fresh a little bit longer.

  2. melvin91 says:

    aren’t poured fondant will melt if keep at refrigerator? o.o

    • Mika Mika says:

      Melvin,
      No, poured fondant will not melt if refrigerated – if anything, it will become slightly harder (since it hardens when cool, and liquefies when warm/hot).

  3. Liz says:

    Hi! I want to make nutella petit fours and was wondering do you add anything to the nutella? Do you thin it out?

    • Mika Mika says:

      If you are using nutella for a filling, no, you do not need to thin it out. Just spread the (room temperature) nutella on the cake layers.

  4. A Girl says:

    I love petit fours! They’re so cute!

  5. Ally Vaughn says:

    I was planning to make Nutella filled petit fours and was wondering how long I could store it in the refrigerator in advance for a tea party? I need to know the options for storage and for how long before its not good anymore? Thank you.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi there. You can make the cake part, slice and fill them with nutella – and store the uncut filled cake layers in the freezer (tightly wrapped with plastic) several weeks ahead of time. Then remove, cut into squares, and dip in the fondant the night before your party.

  6. Janis says:

    Hi
    Love the idea for a tea party Just wondering if you can give me ideas to adjust for a girls tea party

    • Mika Mika says:

      Well, definitely substitute the alcohol with something else to soak the cake! Maybe something like Torani flavored syrups?
      Torani Syrup“>Torani Syrup

      My supermarket sells several flavors of Torani syrup… but the best selection I have found at places like Cost Plus World Market, or at Smart & Final. Or you can make your own simple syrup – usually about 1 c. sugar dissolved into 1 c. liquid.

  7. Maya says:

    Great job, I really enjoyed reading your petit fours info! I generally don’t like to freeze anything, but maybe I am wrong? Freezing doesn’t compromise the cake texture or taste? I hope not because you can obviously make much prettier cakes if it’s frozen!

    • Mika Mika says:

      In my experience, the freezing is a necessary step if you want to be able to decorate the petit fours without having them fall apart into a crumbly mess (unless you are a highly skilled professionally trained pastry chef). Freezing does not compromise the cake texture or taste – you just need to make sure you wrap it tightly and don’t store it in a freezer that has a lot of odors (or for too long). If you leave it to freeze for several months, then yes, your texture and taste might be affected. But overnight? No, that won’t happen. :)

      • Samantha says:

        Just wondering if you could give me a few more options for flavors, don’t get me wrong, I love your examples and intend to use them, but I would like to make many different flavors…Thanks!

        • Mika Mika says:

          I would take cues from different style cakes that you like. How about red velvet? You could make a red velvet cake base, use a simple syrup or rum soak, sweetened cream cheese filling, and decorate with red velvet cake crumbs? Off the top of my head, here are a few other ideas:

          -German Chocolate: chocolate cake base, creme de cacao soak, german chocolate frosting with coconut filling
          -Carrot cake: carrot cake base, dark rum soak, sweetened cream cheese filling
          -Tropical: white/pound cake base, flavored rum or malibu soak, passion fruit or guava jam filling, decorate with coconut flakes
          -Pumpkin Pie: white/pound cake base, dark spiced rum soak, pumpkin pie filling
          -Apple Spice: white/spice cake base, dark spiced rum soak, apple butter filling
          -Chocolate Orange: chocolate cake base, curacao or triple sec soak, orange marmalade or jam filling
          -Black Forest: chocolate cake base, grenadine soak, sweetened cream cheese filling, top with a maraschino cherry half to decorate
          -Green Tea: white/pound cake base, sweetened cream cheese filling mixed with a little bit of matcha powder, top with a fine dusting of powdered sugar + matcha
          -Pina Colada: white/yellow/pound cake base, malibu rum soak, pineapple jam filling, decorate with shredded coconut

  8. Phyllis says:

    GREAT JOB! thank you so much for posting this you make it look soooo easy…thank you for giving us the heads up on how to do this with care and excellence!!!!!!

  9. Sherrill says:

    Hi, I made some petit fours but used another recipe for poured fondant without the crisco and the icing didn’t get hard, was very thick and I could taste the icing sugar. Do you have any thoughts on why the icing didn’t work?

    Do yo have any ideas why

    • Mika Mika says:

      No, I’m not sure… it’s probably the recipe that you used for poured fondant. I tried a few different recipes for poured fondant, and the only one that I found easy to work with that gave good results was the one I posted. Maybe try my recipe instead of the one you used and see how that works out for you. Also, refrigeration sometimes helps firm up the fondant. You also don’t want to pour it too thick either – so if your fondant is too thick, you need to heat it up a bit to loosen it up more, or add more fat.

  10. Marie says:

    Why did my pour fondant turn out lumpy?

    • Mika Mika says:

      The fondant will be a little bit lumpy in the beginning, but if you add enough water and microwave hot enough (while also whisking in between) – the lumps should work out, into a smooth uniform fondant. Remember, in step 12 you have to add ADDITIONAL hot water until your fondant is smooth and has a pourable consistency. Use a wire whisk to work out the lumps, and remember to heat up in the microwave for a few seconds (if needed) if the fondant begins to stiffen up too much.

  11. Haze says:

    I used your recipe for the poured fondant but even after many many coats, it still wasn’t thick enough to conceal the cake and filling on the sides and doesn’t look nearly as beautiful as yours. Any ideas on why this happened?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Did you thin the fondant too much? You don’t want to add ALL of the water… just enough to make it loose and pourable, not too liquidy. Try adding less water.

  12. Amelia Chavez says:

    Hi, I have made the cakes and they turned out great, but I was I wondering about icing I made it to your recipe and it didn’t turn out, it was lumpy and not smooth at all I tried to fix it maybe. But I was wondering what did I do wrong or not add enough?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Hi there. For the icing, you do need to try to get out as many lumps as you can in step 11. A few lumps are ok… but try to work out most of the lumps with the back of your spoon. After heating in the microwave (step 12), use a wire whisk to remove the rest of the lumps before using. If all else fails, you could give it a spin in the food processor – but I’ve found a minute or so of vigorous whisking is all that is needed to break up the remaining lumps.

  13. cori says:

    I have a chocolate melter and I was wondering if I could use that to make the pourable fondant rather than the microwave, also it would be able to maintain a warm temperature rather than stopping to microwave? Will this work or will the temperature be too high. Also, instead of fondant would chocolate work?

  14. Amy Johnson says:

    Hi! (didn’t know if you wpould see this or my email first, but here it is again)

    I have some strawberry cake mix on me. Do you think the strawberry cake would do well with an amaretto liquor stroked on top, and a filling of chocolate frosting. I will use the traditional fondant over top. What do you think? My mom loves strawberry and chocolate. Just trying to make use of what I have avaliable! LOL

    Please let me know if you think this would work as far as flavor combinations for the petit fours.

    Thank you!

    Amy Johnson

  15. Amy Johnson says:

    So, basically, I will do a strawberry cake with amaretto stroked on, use an apricot jam or jelly base if needed or the milk chocolate frosting, then i will put milk chocolate frosting on top, and use the traditional fondant and for some of the squares a chocolate poured fondant. Think that would work?

    Thanks!

    Amy

    • Mika Mika says:

      Apricot jam with chocolate, amaretto, and strawberry also sounds delicious… kind of reminds me of those italian rainbow cookies.

  16. Amy Johnson says:

    Glad this meets with your approval!!! LOL Great, that makes me feel more confident! I was wondering would this also work if I used one or two jelly roll pans. I do not feel very confident about slicing the quarters into thinner pieces. I always manage to make everything lopsided. It might be better for me if the cake layers are already thin, and I will just pile the layers on. I also have some petit four cutters that I will be using as well.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Just cut your cake into quarters first (like into 4 smaller cakes). It’s much easier to freehand thin layers when you are working with a smaller cake. :)

  17. Jonnah says:

    I really want to make these but sadly,the ingredients are not easy to find..i,m from philippines.. So sad..

    • Mika Mika says:

      You just need cake, fillings/flavorings, powdered sugar and shortening… I’m sure you can find these items?

  18. Christian Taylor says:

    My poured fondant turned out nightmarishly! I followed your directions but do live in a high heat, high humidity area. (I work in Cambodia) In the past I had used the recipe from Martha Stewart’s website and it was great. What went wrong here? And I am a culinary grad so I have a pretty good grasp of pastry arts.

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m not sure what went wrong… maybe it was the humidity? I can’t really say since I don’t know what you used and how you did it. If Martha Stewart’s recipe works better for you, then use that instead.

  19. MrsTMotherOfFour says:

    This recipe and tutorial makes me want to try it again and has renewed my belief that it is possible outaide of a pastery shop!
    I had ordered some from a bakery once and the baker assured me she knew exactly what I wanted and when I received 3doz they came in huge cake boxes and when I opened the boxes the were 4″x4″ glorified little Debbie’s, they just looked like fancy decorated snack cakes…

    • Mika Mika says:

      You can do it… it just takes a bit of time, don’t rush it. The nice thing when you make it yourself is that you can make them exactly how you like.

  20. amanda says:

    i am at the re-freeze stage after cutting. before i start he next step (and still have time to run to the store) i was thinking of melting chocolate instead of the fondant. do you think that would work? they are for a bridal shower, and the bride doesnt care for fondant.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Yes, I think it probably will… if you use the candy melts that are specifically meant for melting and dipping, then I think it would work fine!

  21. Sydney says:

    Hello,

    I would really like to make these and freeze them. Have you had any experience with petite fours after they’ve been frozen? Will they thaw nicely and have the same icing consistency? I’m worried about the icing doing something funky like bubbling or sweating, etc. any advice? I want to serve them at small tea parties, but cannot possibly make everything fresh and need to take some shortcuts by making some things ahead and freezing.

    • Mika Mika says:

      I think you are better off freezing the assembled cake portion ahead of time (tightly wrapped), then dipping with fondant the night before your event. I don’t really know how the fondant will hold up to freezing. You can try a small test batch to see if you are happy with the results.

  22. Harriet says:

    Yesterday I made a fondant with the same ingredients (except it didn’t call for salt) in the same amounts. Only that cook had you put in half of the liquid in with the shortening while it melted. It was a lumpy mess so I used my KA to blend it to smoothness. I used Pomegranate juice as the liquid. After 8 cups of powdered sugar it was smooth, too thick and had grease dots all over the surface. So I added more powdered sugar as two online cooks advised. I’ve seen cement thinner. So added more juice. Always grease dots. So I was figuring on using a fondant next time that doesn’t use shortening. Any ideas why the grease dots never went away? And, I love your flavor suggestions! I’m looking forward to making more petit fours! And the fork idea? Wonderful!

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m not really sure what happened to your fondant – try following my instructions instead. I don’t advised trying to mix the water in with the shortening WHILE it is melting initially. You probably should melt the shortening first, then add the 5 cups of powdered sugar into the melted shortening to make a paste, and only THEN add ****HALF*** of the HOT water (as I explain in steps 9-12 above). After mixing that together (preferably with a whisk), you then return it to the microwave. Afterwards, you add additional hot water (only if needed) and powdered sugar in order to achieve the desired consistency.

      If you ended up with “cement”, then you added too much powdered sugar. If you had “grease dots” then you probably had a temperature that was too cold or with too high a ratio of water to fat. When I make fondant, I usually have 1 cup of fat to about 1/2 cup of water (give or take). I’m guessing you had a much higher ratio of water in that particular recipe that you followed.

  23. Lisa says:

    Do you think it is okay to freeze the cakes before pouring and cutting he fondant for a couple of days, instead of overnight ? I want to make the cake and filling tomorrow, but do not have time to do the next few steps until s few days from now.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Yes, you can do that. Just make sure to wrap the cakes tightly in plastic wrap.

    • Lisa says:

      Thanks!! I got home earlier than expected and was able to do it today. The fondant consistency was pourable and seemed pretty good. It was just a little too sticky, even after being in the fridge. It was difficult to move the cakes. Any ideas why? Usually when I make cake balls and dip them in melting chocolate they harden right away. Thank you for this recipe though! This was my first stab at petit fours. I love the idea of adding limoncello and using a pourable fondant! I just need to figure out how to make them prettier because the fondant was not hardening as much as I would like.

      • Mika Mika says:

        My thought on the fondant would be next time make it slightly stiffer, with a bit more powdered sugar. You may have to heat it up more often as it cools… but I think if it’s too sticky in the end it means there was too much moisture/fat initially.

  24. Kim says:

    Hi.what are your feeling on round petit fours? Someone said they do not hold their shape after you coat them?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Round petit fours are nice (sometimes it’s nice to have round AND squared pastries for variety)… I don’t know why they wouldn’t hold their shape after coating? I think the shape would hold just as well as square or rectangular ones. The only issue with round is that you have more “cake waste” – the edges become scraps.

  25. Jasmine Li says:

    Would the petit fours still taste okay if I didn’t soak them in anything?

    • Mika Mika says:

      Well, they would probably taste ok… but they will be a little bit drier. The soaking liquid helps to add moistness to the petit fours. But you can try it without and see if you like it.

  26. Barbara says:

    Hello..you recipes sound amazing..thank u for them..I also read somewhere an easy way to coat the cakes would be to melt icing and dip them in it…What are your thoughts

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’ve never tried that. I’m not sure what the coating would turn out like – It probably would end up somewhat sticky and wet (even after resting time)… but you could certainly try it and see how it turns out.

  27. Hi I read about an easy way to make the pourable icing. Recipe said get any can of icing melt in microwave 30 seconds and pour over cakes. Any input on this working? Thanks

    • Mika Mika says:

      Sorry, I don’t have any advise for you regarding melting a can of frosting because I’ve never tried doing that before. Why don’t you try it as an experiment and see how it turns out?

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