Sunday, 20 October 2013

Cake Doughnut Petits Fours

Petits Fours are so pretty, I love looking at them. Bite sized mini-cakes that look like they’ve been wrapped in fondant.  I set out to make some, but wanted to use a fluffier cake than the traditional pound cake used. This turned out to be a “let’s see what happens” project without much planning.  Thankfully, there was a get together that I could bring them to so I wasn’t left with 12 mini-cakes.

I’m calling these cake doughnut petite fours since several people commented that they were like doughnuts.  That, and that they looked like scones, but I prefer doughnuts.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Cake Doughnut Petit Four Parts
Barely Brown Butter Cake
Vanilla Simple Syrup
Poured Vanilla Glaze

Barely Brown Butter Cake
Barely adapted from Milk Bar.

¼ cup salted butter
2 Tablespoons browned butter*
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/3 cup oil (grapeseed or canola)
½ teaspoon vanilla (I added 1/4 teaspoon of ground vanilla beans)
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

* To make browned butter, heat ¼ cup of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it bubbles, then turns golden and nutty. Occasionally swirl the pan. Take off heat and cool. Spoon 2 tablespoons for the cake, making sure you get the golden bits at the bottom.

1.  Line the bottom of a quarter sheet pan (9x13 inches) with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.  Beat the two butters and both sugars on medium-high for 2 minutes until fluffy.
3.  Add eggs and beat for another 2 minutes until combined and fluffy.
4.  Mix buttermilk, oil, and vanilla in a bowl and slowly pour in a stream with the beaters on low.  Beat on medium-high for 5 minutes.  Make sure it’s completely homogenous (no separation of fat).
5.  Mix flour and baking powder, and add to mixture. Mix on low for 45 seconds.
6.  Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool and flip out onto a cutting board.
7.  Take a biscuit cutter and cut small rounds. Or cut into even bit sized squares.

Vanilla Simple Syrup 
Heat ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup water, and ¼ teaspoon vanilla (and an optional 1/8 teaspoon ground vanilla bean) in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Use warm or cool.

Poured Vanilla Glaze
Mix 4 cups icing sugar, 5 Tablespoon milk, and ½ teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Add gel food colouring and mix. Transfer to a measuring cup for easy pouring. Place a damp paper towel on top and let sit for about 10 minutes so that the bubbles come to the top.

1.  Brush the top of a cake round with simple syrup. Pipe or spread your filling of choice. I used Nutella, but jam would be really nice – making it like a jelly filled doughnut.
2.  Place a cake round on top, and brush with simple syrup.
3.  Place cake on a wire rack with parchment underneath. Pour vanilla icing on top and spread it on the sides with a spatula as it drips down.  Reuse the icing that drips onto the parchment.
4.  Let dry and enjoy!

Verdict: These cakes were so cute and perfectly sized.  The cakes turned out really moist and fluffy and with a balanced sweetness.  We all enjoyed them as one of a selection of two other desserts (chocolate coconut cake, and chocolate pecan pie). They definitely resembled glazed cake doughnuts.  Raspberry filling would’ve worked really well.  Although petits fours should have smooth sides that come from a thicker glaze, I liked the thin glaze I used as it gave it a perfect doughnut texture and sweetness.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Nutella and Toasted Marshmallow Pie Bites

I was originally going to call these hand pies, but my friends kept thinking I said ham pies, so pie bites it is. 

I was watching The Chew when Mario Batali said that he thinks that hand pies will be the next “it” culinary treat. It made me want to try making them, especially since I had left over Nutella from this project that I wanted to use. To be honest, pies aren’t my favorite dessert – I’d choose a cake, cookie, bar, or pastry over a pie any day – which is why I don’t bake them very often. I think it’s because pies are a plated dessert and I prefer…non-plated desserts? But, the idea of a dish-less pie, one that doesn’t need plates and forks, makes it appealing.

Check out the verdict at the end of the post!

Pie Dough
Refrigerate overnight before using. 

Pie dough coming together.

Filling and other parts
Nutella – about ½ a cup
Toasted marshmallows – toast ¼ cup of mini marshmallows with a torch
Egg wash – beat 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water

There are no real rules for assembling these pie bites.  Make them as big as you want, in any shape you want, and as much filling as you want. Just bake them until they’re golden.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Using half the dough at a time, roll out to 2cm thickness.
3.  Trim edges to make a rectangle/square.
4.  Cut into squares or rectangles.
5.  Brush the edges of a square of dough with egg wash.  Place a dollop of Nutella and a few toasted marshmallows. Cover with another square of dough and pinch edges with a fork.
6.  Brush all the tops of the pie bites with egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden.

Before baking.

After baking.

Verdict: These pie bites were so delicious! I gave them to some friends who really liked them. Even the boyfriend (who usually just says “good” without much interest) couldn’t stop eating them! The dough was the best - so flaky that it was more like puff pastry.  I’ll definitely be making these again, with other fillings.