Sep 20, 2010

Spring petits fours

In keeping with the Spring theme... my recipe for Spring-inspired petits fours:
A Taste of Japan
Why Japan? Well, to me, blossoms are ultimately Japanese, or rather, when i think of Japan, i immediately conjure up expansive orchards of fruit trees in full blossom!

Victoria Sponge
200 g softened butter
200 g castor sugar
zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs
200 g self-raising flour*
20 cm x 20 cm square baking tin, lined with baking paper

Cream the butter, sugar and lemon zest until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs while mixing.  Once the eggs are well combined, add the flour, mixing at a low speed.  Spread the mixture into the baking tin and bake in a 180°C preheated oven for 30 - 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven when the sponge springs back to the touch.  Allow to cool.  

For the rest
A good quality berry jam (e.g Hillcrest's raspberry jam with extra fruit)
Smooth apricot jam
200 g marzipan
1 kg pouring fondant
food colouring of your choice
15 ml orange blossom essence 
sugar blossoms to decorate

Trim your sponge and layer with filling of your choice. For these petits fours, i use a fresh and tangy berry jam.  You want to use a nice tangy jam to balance out the sweetness of the fondant in the end product.  To make the dipping process a little easier later, wrap your layered sponge in cling wrap and leave to rest in the refrigerator for an hour or so.  

Heat a little smooth apricot jam and spread over the top of the sponge square. With a little icing sugar or cornflour to prevent sticking, roll out your marzipan to and place on top of the jam-covered sponge.  If you don't like marzipan, you can use petinice instead.  Cut the marzipan-covered sponge into 4 cm x 4 cm squares or smaller.  I actually prefer my squares a little smaller - then they really are 'petit'!

Melt your pouring fondant in the microwave or over a double boiler.  Add 1 tablespoon of glucose syrup to the fondant and the food colouring.  I prefer to use a double boiler for this because it keeps the fondant at a good consistency while you are dipping all the little squares.  Once your fondant has reached a thick pouring consistency, start dipping the little squares.  Upside down, dip into the fondant until about 3/4 of the sides are covered.  Place on a cooling rack to allow fondant to set.  Place into paper cupcake cases and gently press the sides of the cases against the petits fours to stick.

Use a little royal icing (or even a drop of water) to stick the blossoms to the petits fours and decorate to the limits of your imagination!

* For an extra (gluten-free) Japanese touch, you can replace the self-raising flour with 200 g rice flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder and a bit of Xantham gum! 

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