Petits fours, or "little oven goods," are tiny cakes covered in frosting or ganache and decorated. A ganache is a type of glaze made by melting chocolate into cream. The little treats are ideal for parties that call for dainty sweets, such as baby showers or bridal showers. When making petits fours for such an event, prepare them ahead of time and freeze them until the guests arrive.
Assembling Petit Fours
Use your favorite sponge cake recipe to serve as the base of the petits fours. After baking and cooling the cake, cut it into thin layers, then cut each layer into 1 1/2 to 2 inch squares. To make ganache, combine 3 parts cream and 4 parts of your choice of chocolate on the stove and heat until the chocolate starts to melt, then stir to melt the chocolate completely and to incorporate the two ingredients. If you use white chocolate, you may add food coloring to dye it. Use the ganache to join the layers of cake and to coat the petit fours.
How to Freeze
Wrapping the petit fours well before placing them in the freezer will mean the difference between well-preserved little cakes and stale or freezer-burned cakes. Freeze the petits fours on a baking sheet for about an hour, or until they are firm. Stretch out a layer of plastic wrap and set the cakes on it, then wrap the cakes so that the plastic wrap covers them twice. Squeeze out any extra air before sealing the plastic wrap. For extra protection, cover the plastic wrap in a double layer of aluminum foil before placing the cakes in the freezer. Store the wrapped cakes in a sturdy container so that the petits fours don't get crushed or knocked around by other foods in the freezer. Label the package with the date and the name of the food.
Technically, your petits fours will keep forever if stored in a freezer at zero degrees. The quality of the cakes will drop over time, however, and you might not want to eat petit fours that have languished in the freezer for a year or two. Plan to eat the cakes within two to three months of freezing for the best taste and texture.
Because petits fours are small, they need less time to defrost or thaw than a larger layer cake. Let the cakes thaw in the refrigerator to keep the ganache from melting and to reduce the risk of bacteria. Remove the foil and plastic wrap from the cakes before you thaw them, so that the ganache doesn't cling to the plastic wrap as it softens. Place the cakes in a covered container as they thaw to keep refrigerator odors out and to protect the ganache from being knocked or bumped.
Freezing petits fours doesn't mean that they will be completely free of any bacteria, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Storing foods at a very low temperature inactivates bacteria, but they can become active again as the cakes defrost. Don't leave the defrosted cakes out on the counter for extended periods of time, and do not refreeze cakes that have been thawed.
- Wilton: Petit Fours
- On Food and Cooking; Harold McGee
- North Dakota State University Extension: Freezing Baked Goods
- BBC GoodFood: Top Tips on Freezing Food
- Texas A&M Agrilife Extension: Chill Out Over the Holidays
- USDA: Freezing and Food Safety
- Epicurious: Vanilla Petits Fours with Raspberry Filling and Marzipan
- Epicurious: Ganache Recipe
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images