For Something Completely Different: Recipe from the CIA

29 Jul

So, to change it up a little, here’s a completely different recipe – not bread, not practical, not humble, not trying to be healthy or environmentally sensitive. Kind of the exact opposite. Here’s a recipe from my school days for those classic, old-fashioned sweet & dense Petit Fours. The procedure is pretty straight-forward, but the key is planning ahead.

Just to warn you, these babies aren’t something you can whip up in an hour. The cake itself is moist & super almondy. Then, the cake gets split into 3 planks, which are they layered with your favorite jam. The key is to wrap the cake well in plastic, then weigh that baby down (smash it almost) with a heavy book or 2 and let it hang out in the freezer for 6 – 8 hours or more.

Once the cake is very cold and firm, then the pieces can be cut with either a knife (really measure them so they’re very even!) or a cookie cutter. But before you do that, roll out a piece of marzipan and place that over the top of the cake stack. You do this so that the top surface of the petit fours come out very smooth & even.

The only tricky part is the glazing process. If any drip of glaze gets on one of the cakes you’ve already glazed, it will be visible. It’s best to use more glaze than you think you’ll need and just pour it carefully over the whole cake. The glaze can be reheated and reused so don’t feel like you are wasting anything. After the glaze dries, you can pipe a design on top of each petit four with ganache or you can dip the base of each petit four in chocolate. Now you are all set for that Tea Party you’ve been meaning to have. Good luck!

Almond Petit Fours Glacé

Almond Paste 4 oz

Sliced Almonds 3 oz

Sugar 7 oz

Soft Butter 7 oz

Eggs 9 oz

Cake Flour 3 oz

Apricot or Raspberry Jam as needed

Need: One half-sheet pan, parchment paper, stand mixer with paddle


Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the sheet pan with parchment paper.

In the stand mixer, cream the almond paste and sliced almonds. The almonds will break up some in the process. Add the soft butter and mix together until smooth and somewhat fluffy.

Add the sugar and mix together until homogenous. While continuing to mix on medium low speed, add the eggs one by one.

Scrape down the mixer bowl and paddle and mix again to ensure the batter is smooth. Add the flour and mix just until combined.

Spread the batter into a lined sheet pan and bake until the cake golden brown and bounces back. Let the cake cool in the pan, and then flip out on the back of another sheet pan lined with parchment. Cut the cake into 1/3’s long ways.

Take one 1/3 and spread with jam, in a smooth even coat. Place the next 1/3 on top and repeat the process. At the end you should have 3 layers of cake and 2 layers of jam. To continue, roll out a very thin piece of marzipan or fondant and place that on top of the cake. This will allow the top surface of the squares to be smooth.

Wrap the cake well and freeze for at least 60 minutes, or up to several days.

Then use a very sharp serrated knife and cut the cake sheet into 1 ½” squares or cut into another fun shape with a teeny cookie cutter.

Petit Fours Icing:
9 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (about 2 pounds)
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract & 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Combine ingredients in top of double boiler and heat over boiling water just to lukewarm (do not overheat icing or it will become dull). Remove from heat, leaving icing over hot water to keep it thin. If desired, tint parts of icing delicate pastel colors with food color. If necessary, add hot water, just a few drops at a time, until of pouring consistency.

Glaze cake pieces by placing upside down, a few at a time, on wire rack over large bowl or baking dish. Pour Petit Fours Icing over top so entire cake piece is covered at one time. Glaze that drips off cakes into bowl can be reheated and used again. Decorate tops with silver dragees, piped ganache or royal icing.


2 Responses to “For Something Completely Different: Recipe from the CIA”

  1. foundbaking July 29, 2010 at 3:32 am #

    I remember making these back in my pastry school days! And the chocolate piping too! Oh the memories. I love making these… dainty and cute. I have to say though I can probably only eat one or two because these beauties are rich and sweet. They look puuurrrrdy!

  2. Lauren July 29, 2010 at 5:00 am #

    There has to be an easier way! Sarah Lee pound cake drizzled with amaretto, layered with raspberry jam comes to mind. I will experiment when I next give up on my diet.

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