Instead of working, I spent the day in the kitchen with Violet. We have a long tradition of bringing goodies to local businesses and friends for certain holidays–usually Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s and May Day. This year I wanted to make Petit Fours.
Which can be complicated enough, but when attempting to make them vegan and gluten free… Yes, darling readers. Vegan and gluten free Petit Fours.
So-I began with a batch of a basic white cake, spread half of it onto a cookie sheet, added pink paste food coloring to the rest and filled in the rest of the cookie sheet with it for a very thin sheet cake. I made another batch of batter, dark chocolate this time around. I filled candy sized paper liners with a little spoonful of the batter and arranged them in a pie pan to bake. I also used a silicone baking sheet with little 1 1/2 squares.
I prepared vegan buttercream frosting, rolled marizpan, and grabbed a jar of strawberry preserves. I spread filling, cut little squares and shapes, and basically played with cake. People are often very surprised by vegan buttercream frosting which tastes really freaking delicious. Here’s the deal people: just use Earth’s Balance margarine (which happens to be vegan but is the best anyway since most margarine sucks), good vanilla, and a bit of some kind of rich vegan milk-today I used a coconut/almond milk combo. I typically use more vanilla than milk. However, the only way to get this really, really, yummy and creamy is to use a Kitchen Aid. No amount of hand mixing will ever get it perfectly fluffy.
Traditionally, Petit Fours are made with dipped fondant. I’d never made this before, but I’ve been meaning to for a while. I found a great blog here http://www.sprinklebakes.com/2011/07/poured-fondant-and-petit-fours.htm with a darling video. The fondant was not difficult (much easier than say, taffy or even peanut brittle) but I was glad that I was prepared for the mess. Dipped fondant is messy indeed. One this that made this more difficult for me was keeping the fondant workable. It hardens as it cools and this happens very quickly. All the recipes I’d read suggested popping it in the microwave periodically, but I don’t have a microwave. I don’t even have enough electricity for a crock pot. What I did have is a 1920s gas stove and a vintage white enamel stock pot with a few inches of water. Once I got the hang of it, I just moved the makeshift double boiler to the top of the woodstove to keep it warm, but it was still messy and a pain. Photo of the fondant cooking, and pre-cleanup.
I knew that I also wanted to make some with rolled fondant because I adore it. I love a simple cake covered with it, I love to make little delicate decorations with it…and most commercially available rolled fondants are vegan/gf. I’d never covered something so little with fondant, especially little 1 inch layered cake hearts! Took me longer than it should have to realize that I could use a pasta maker to roll it to just the right thickness for covering cakes and cutting out shapes. It has been YEARS since I’ve used the pasta makers–probably about 8 years ago, around the time that my kitchen became gluten free. Ahhh wheat. How I miss thee!All in all, I think I made about 80 Petit Fours. Vanilla cake filled with buttercream, strawberry preserves, or marizpan and chocolate cake filled with buttercream or marzipan cut into shapes and covered with poured or rolled fondant. The mini cupcakes made with candy liners, I piped buttercream and did a little decorating. Violet and I made dozens of fondant roses! They were so beautiful! Rolled fondant cut into smooth hearts or pinking shear hearts-I do wish I’d had time for a batch of Royal Icing but whatever. This took WAY longer than I’d meant it to. Violet and I can really geek out on playing with food. But we did such a lovely job! 12 boxes of treats (sets of 4 or 5), plus a dozen individual boxes, and a big tray to bring to the local food co-op (the big girl is working tomorrow and we plan to surprise her at work!). Whew. Now here’s the really really amazing bit. I am on WEIGHT WATCHERS. I did not even eat one. I tasted the teeniest bit of poured fondant to make sure it wasn’t revolting, and tasted about a half of a teaspoon of cake for the same reason. But that was it. If I were a superhero, my power would be SELF CONTROL!