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Petits Fours for Valentine’s Day

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Holidays On February 6, 2016 0 Comments

Petits fours is French, for small ovens. In the eighteenth century, cooks and pastry makers baked miniature confectionaries or appetizers in smaller ovens, next to the main ovens.

Serve these romantic Petits fours to your sweetheart on February 14th! They’re also perfect for that Valentine’s Day party, since they come in single servings.

Prep time: 40 minutes (for glazing & decoration)
Bake time: 30 to 40 minutes
Yield: 12 to 16 single-serving cakes (petits fours)

Ingredients for the Cake:
2/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla
2¾ cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups milk

Directions for the Cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

2. In a large mixer bowl, mix butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy.

3. Beat for 2 minutes, scraping bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally.

4. On low speed, mix in the flour, baking powder and salt alternately with milk.

5. Pour the batter into prepared pan.

6. Place pan with batter on a rack positioned in center of preheated oven.

7. Bake the cake 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, place a pointed knife in center of cake to check for doneness – if knife comes out clean, the cake is done.

8. If the knife has batter clinging to it, bake the cake for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Check cake once more by inserting knife in its center.

9. Let cake cool in pan on a kitchen counter or a wooden board.

10. When cake is cool, cut it into 12 to 16 equal pieces.
Note: each piece should measure 2 x 2 inches. Set aside on a baking sheet covered with parchment or aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze and decoration for cakes-

Ingredients for the Glaze & Decoration:
2 pounds (32 ounce) confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons juice from fresh lemons
One 4.25-ounce tube green decorating icing (for leaves)
One 4.25-ounce tube red or pink decorating icing (for flower)
One rosette-shaped plastic cake decorating tip -and-
One flat-ended plastic cake decorating tip (both available at cake decorating supply shops or online)
16 cupcake papers
Optional: You can use color of your choice for flower decoration.

Directions for Glazing the Cakes:
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine glaze ingredients.

2. Beat on low speed just until blended; beat on high until smooth.

3. Apply glaze evenly over tops, letting the glaze drip on sides of cakes.

4. Set the glazed cakes aside to dry.

5. When cakes are dry, place a rosette cake decorating tip on desired color icing tube.

6. Squeeze tube to create a rosette or flower in center top of each cake.

7. Place a flat-ended decorating tip on green icing tube and pipe a leaf on each side of flower on center top of cakes.

8. Place cakes on flattened cupcake papers set on a serving platter.

9. Alternatively, place cakes directly on serving platter. Cover with tented foil until ready to serve.
Text and Photograph ©2016 Nancy DeLucia Real

Peachy Plum Upside-Down Cake

In Cakes & Cupcakes On August 24, 2013 7 Comments

Summer is the season for peaches and plums. As I taste samples at various fruit stalls of the Santa Monica Farmers Market, I lose control and buy at least 15 to 20 pounds of both fruits. What’ll I do with all that fruit? After making some preserves, I’m thinking of making this peachy plum upside down cake for my next pool party.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 35 to 40 minutes
Makes: One 9-inch cake

Ingredients (for preparing & placing fruit at bottom of pan):

2 tablespoons melted butter or vegetable oil (for greasing)
One 9-inch springform pan
One 9-inch parchment paper circle (cut the parchment to fit inside bottom of pan)
Juice of 1 lime
2 medium peaches
2 large plums
1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar (preferably unbleached)
1 extra peach (for garnishing cake)
1 or 2 extra plums (for garnishing cake)

Ingredients (for cake batter to pour over fruit in pan):

2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar (preferably unbleached)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/3 cup milk (whole, 2% milk fat, 1% milkfat or nonfat)

Slice & Prepare the Peaches & Plums:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Grease and flour the sides of springform pan.

3. Place parchment paper circle to fit in bottom of pan; set aside.

4. Squeeze lime juice into a 2 or 3-quart bowl and set aside.

5. Meanwhile, peel the peaches, cut them in half and remove pit. Thinly slice the peaches and place them in bowl with lime juice, giving them a light stir (be careful not to break the slices). Set aside.

6. Thinly slice the plums (do not peel them) and add them to the peaches in bowl. Give them a light stir and set aside.

7. Brush the parchment paper in pan with vegetable oil and then sprinkle it with 1/3 cup sugar; set pan aside.

Prepare the Cake Batter:

1. In a 1-quart bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract (alternately, this step can be done with an electric hand mixer and regular bowl). Stir in the milk and mix well until batter is uniform.

3. Pour the batter over prepared fruit in pan.

4. Set the pan on a rack positioned in center of oven.

5. Bake the cake for 25 minutes.

6. After 25 minutes, test doneness of cake by inserting a sharp, pointed knife in its center. If knife comes out clean, the cake is done.

7. Since each oven heats differently, it may be necessary to bake the cake in additional increments of 5 minutes, testing doneness with knife each time.

8. When cake is done, transfer it (do not remove cake from pan) to a counter to cool.

9. Cool the cake in pan for 30 minutes.

10. After 30 minutes, invert cake onto a serving platter.

11. Remove sides of pan and peel off the parchment paper from cake.

Serve cake, garnished with mint leaf sprigs and additional slices of peaches and plums.

Optional: Garnish each cake slice with our 5-Minute Sweetened Whipped Cream recipe, previously published on this website (in Desserts, Creams & Sauces).

Text and Photograph ©2013 Nancy DeLucia Real

Halloween Tombs & Cupcakes

In Cakes & Cupcakes, Holidays On October 6, 2010 2 Comments

A few weeks ago, I was shopping at an arts and crafts store and noticed candy molds for skeletons and cakes. Making Halloween desserts with such fun decorations is a great art project for kids and adults. You’ll have a blast assembling the tombs and decorating the cupcakes. During this graveyard project, you won’t be able to resist tasting the candies and cakes. However, be sure to leave a few for your guests!

Prep time: 45 minutes (for the green skeleton candies & cupcakes)
Bake time: 25 minutes
Frosting time: 15 minutes
Makes: 8 tombs & 8 cupcakes

One 14-ounce bag Wilton® White Candy Melts
4 drops green food color
Pastry bag fitted with a star tip
Skeleton design candy molds

1. Melt the candies in a double boiler or in a microwave (follow microwave directions on package).

2. Using a wooden spoon, immediately stir the green food color into melted candy.

3. Set container with melted candy on a counter to cool 5 to 8 minutes.

4. Carefully spoon the melted candy into the bottom of a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.

5. Squeeze the pastry bag to overfill each skeleton mold – the top of each mold should look like it has a cloud of melted candy over it. Using a long metal spatula, scrape off the extra candy.

6. Set the mold in freezer, about 8 to 10 minutes or until candies have hardened.

7. Unmold candies onto a flat surface and set aside. Repeat filling the mold, freezing and unmolding the hardened candies until there are enough candy parts to form 8 complete skeletons.

8. If making ahead, set the skeleton candies in layers with paper towels in between each candy layer – inside a sealable plastic container. Make sure the candies do not touch. Freeze candies until ready to use.

5 mini loaf pans (5 X 3 X 1-7/8), greased and floured
8 Halloween baking cups, set in a muffin baking pan
One box Devil’s Food cake mix (1 lb. 2.25 oz.)
One Wilton® Orange Decorating Icing tube (4.25 oz.)
Decorating Plastic Tips to attach to icing tube
Halloween candies or decorations

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prepare cake mix per package directions.

2. Pour a scant 2/3 cup cake batter into each loaf pan and divide remaining batter evenly among 8 baking cups set in a muffin pan.

3. Set the loaf pans on bottom oven rack. Set the muffin pan on top oven rack.

4. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until knife inserted in center of loaves and cupcakes comes out clean. If knife is coated with batter, bake an additional 5 minutes.

5. Transfer the loaf pans and muffin pan with cupcakes to a counter to cool completely. Unmold the loaves.

6. If making a day ahead, set loaves and cupcakes on a flat plate. Cover them with aluminum foil wrap and set aside on counter overnight.


1. With loaves right side up, horizontally slice off the rounded tops.

2. Set two of the sliced-off tops in a bowl and crumble – this will be used as edible earth around the loaves or tombs.

3. Arrange candies in each of the 8 tombs to form a complete skeleton and set aside.

4. Frost the cupcakes with the orange icing tube (fitted with a decorator tip).

5. Arrange tombs and cupcakes on a large platter with crumbled “earth” around them. Add Halloween candies as part of the decoration.

Happy Halloween!

Note: White Candy Melts, candy molds, pastry bags, premade orange frosting tubes, decorator tip attachments and Halloween baking cups can be found at party supply and/or arts and crafts stores.

Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real