Shortcut Petit Fours

Want to make an elegant treat that looks like you spent all day in the kitchen, but you're short on time? With the following tips, you can make homemade tasting petit fours in half the time. In this fast-paced world, who wouldn't appreciate the ease with which these mini masterpieces come together?

First, decide what kind of easy petit four you'd like to create. Your decision will likely be based on what ingredients you have on hand. Fortunately, not all petit fours are made out of cake. Some are cookie or fruit-based. This expands your range of possibilities.

The glaze is simply melted chocolate. Decorations? Sprinkle on some jimmies while the glaze is still wet.


Cake-based Petit Fours

Use a ready-made pound cake or bake one from a mix. Pound cake is sturdier than typical cake, so this will stand up better to the process of cutting and glazing, although you needn't rule out other varieties of cake entirely.

If using a mix, do be sure to bake your batter in a larger, shallower pan so that when you cut the cake into little pieces they won't be so thick and top-heavy that they fall over!

Cut your cake pieces into 1-in, or 1½ in sized squares, rectangles, or triangles; or use a small round or heart-shaped cutter. If you chill or freeze the cake pieces before coating, this will make them sturdier, and the glaze will set faster.

Put the cake pieces on a wire rack over waxed paper. Spoon the glaze (see below) over the cake to cover the top and the sides completely. You may scrape the drips off the waxed paper and reuse (after reheating to a smooth, pourable consistency).

Once the glaze has set (you may speed the process by putting the rack of petit fours in the fridge), carefully place the petit fours into little paper candy or muffin liners and arrange on a tray. You could pipe a little frosting decoration on the tops, but that's entirely optional.


Non-cake Petit Fours

Now things really get easy! Choices include marshmallows, fruit, and cookies.

If using marshmallows, freeze for about 10 minutes first, then stand them on end on a wire rack and glaze.

Fruit choices include thick banana slices, strawberries, and cherries. Again, chill them first to help set the glaze.

For cookie petit fours, shortbread squares work well and are easy to coat with glaze. Another option is to sandwich two Oreos with frosting, set on a wire rack, then spoon on glaze to coat completely. Use this same cookie sandwiching trick to build height to other kinds of cookies, such as pastel wafers or graham crackers.

Finally, carefully place the petit fours into little paper candy or muffin liners and arrange on a tray. You could pipe little frosting decoration on the tops, but that's entirely optional.


Easy Petit Four Glaze

In a bowl or saucepan, melt dark, milk, or white chocolate candy coating or chocolate chips according to package directions. Keep warm while using so that the glaze stays smooth and pourable. Consider using peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, or mint chocolate chips for variety!

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