“I see,” I said. I eyed the new employee with interest as he took the toy Jamie offered him and started in on it once more, dark eyes gleaming with concentration. “Where did you get him?” I asked curiously.
“I found him in a brothel.”
“Oh, of course,” I said. “To be sure.” I eyed the dirt and smears on his clothes. “Which you were visiting for some really excellent reason, I expect?”
I thought you’d prefer me to be found in such an establishment, to the alternative of bein’ found in a dark alleyway, wi’ my head bashed in.” I saw the boy Fergus’s eyes focus at a spot somewhat past the bilboquet, where a tray of iced cakes stood on a table near the wall. A small, pointed pink tongue darted out across his lower lip.
“I think your protégé is hungry,” I said. “Why don’t you feed him, and then you can tell me just what in bloody hell happened this afternoon.”
Diana Gabaldon, Dragonfly in Amber, Chapter 12 – L’Hôpital des Anges
Bonjour, Fergus! I have been waiting to meet you in person for some time, mon ami.
I knew you were coming, so I baked you some cakes.
And because he’s still so young and small, I made teeny, tiny little cakes, for our Fergus, known as petit fours in their country of origin. Made from sponge cake, they are filled with raspberry jam and buttercream frosting before being covered in pourable fondant.
You’ve got a lot of choices about how to put these together, so below are some options that require varying degrees of skill and time. As I’d never made anything this dainty before, I followed these instructions, and found them to be thorough and easy to follow. The post author also uses lots and lots of pictures to help explain each different step.
1. Sponge Cake
- I used the a half recipe of the batter from these Lemon-Poppy Seed Cupcakes, but omitted the poppy seeds.
- You could also use Fiona’s Almond Sponge, but this recipe can be tricky, so work carefully.
- You could buy a cake mix. (Gasp!)
- You could buy a pound cake, trim the crusts, and skip the baking all together. (Double gasp!)
- Whichever you use, ensure your sponge layers are no thicker than 3/8 to 1/2 an inch each. I poured a very thin layer of batter (about 1/4-inch) into the bottoms of two identical 9×13-inch cake pans, and baked them until set, 8 to 10 minutes. That was much easier than trying to slice a cake in half horizontally as shown in the tutorial, but that’s really the only thing I did differently.
- I used store-bought seedless raspberry jam and store-bought cake frosting (Triple gasp! (Even professionals sometimes take shortcuts when time is of the essence.) In this case, the frosting is covered by fondant, so no one would have ever known had I not confessed!)
- You could also use firm homemade jam, as well as your favourite buttercream recipe.
- The filling should be tart to foil the sweetness of the cake and frosting. Lemon curd is another option.
- Spread the jam thinly, otherwise operations get a little slippery.
3. Pourable Fondant
- The recipe I used is below. It’s the first time I’ve ever made any type of fondant, and this was easy to work with.
- You could also add a drop or two of food colouring.
- I kept my decorations simple, but edible silver and gold glitter would be beautiful, as would a piped decoration with your leftover buttercream.
- To make chocolate pourable fondant, add one or two tablespoons of cocoa to the fondant, and thin with a drop or two of water if needed.
I used this tutorial as a guide for assembling my petit fours. I’m not going to kid you. They’re fiddly – I made one of my sponge layers too thick, and my cakes leaned until I trimmed each individual layer – don’t repeat my mistake.
(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)
Makes enough to cover 4 dozen petit fours
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
In a medium metal, ceramic or glass bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, water, corn syrup and extract.
Place the bowl over about 1″ of simmering water in a saucepan over medium heat. Continue whisking the until the mixture becomes is smooth and consistent. Add in the white chocolate chips and stir until melted, watching to ensure the water in the saucepan below does not boil. Reduce the heat if necessary.
Remove the pan from the heat, but keep the bowl over the steaming water to ensure that the icing does not set while you work.
Set your petit fours on tray set over a baking sheet lined with parchment to catch the drips, and spoon the fondant over each cake, covering each piece evenly on top and around the sides. Decorate as desired and allow to dry completely. Scrape the fondant drippings from the parchment-lined baking sheet and reheat to reuse.
Store in a covered container for up to 3 days.