Recipe: chocolate hazelnut petits fours glacés
Sometimes it takes me a few iterations to realize that I hate something… Humans have an amazing capacity for blocking out bad experiences like relationships, suffering, and making petits fours glacés. I’d like to think my inspiration was spurred on by the extra sheet of vanilla chiffon cake I had in my freezer from last time, but I honestly believe I had forgotten that I uttered the words, “I’m never making these again!” just over a month ago.
It’s the same story with a slightly different cast – a cast that probably appeals to more people because it includes our friends chocolate and hazelnut.
weighing hazelnut paste
The basic construction is a vanilla chiffon cake base, hazelnut (Frangelico) simple syrup, hazelnut buttercream, and chocolate glaze. For the buttercream, I went to my standby, Swiss meringue buttercream because it is so stable and easy to clean up in comparison to Italian meringue buttercream, what with all the zipping around of candied sugar strands. My hazelnut paste is merely a purée of toasted, skinned hazelnuts with sugar, vegetable oil, and a pinch of salt. I added some of the paste, vanilla extract, and Frangelico to the buttercream which didn’t come out hazelnutty enough. I dropped a tablespoon of nutella in there and that helped. I don’t know where to get that awesome praline paste we used in pastry class…
The chiffon cakes store well in the freezer if you wrap them carefully. My only gripe about them is that the top becomes a gooey nightmare when you touch it. Once it’s off, the cake is fine and much easier to work with.
slicing the frozen chiffon cake in half
I soaked the first layer of cake with a lot of the hazelnut syrup, then I spread a layer of hazelnut buttercream over that. I topped it off with the second layer of cake and sent it to the freezer. These things make me crazy when I have to cut them because they ooze all over the place. Freezing is a beautiful way to firm it up before slicing. Although freezing isn’t recommended for pastry cream, which might be why pastry cream is such a pain to work with in layered desserts.
glaze with chocolate
The slicing went very easily. I’ve made petits fours three times now, and each time when I cut the squares, I think 1-inch squares are awfully small and end up making them 1.5 inches in width. They look about right. Then I glaze them and they start to look too big and I think I should have left them at 1-inch widths. Then I try to move them from the cooling rack and they are so unstable they begin to topple into one another. That is when I really hate petits fours glacés. I think if I had to produce large quantities of these little bites, I would become aggravated very quickly and for a long time. But they look harmless enough to the uninitiated.
it’s payback time
Chocolate Hazelnut Petits Fours Glacés
1/2 recipe of vanilla chiffon cake
1/2 recipe of hazelnut swiss meringue buttercream
hazelnut simple syrup
vanilla chiffon cake
makes 2 11×17-inch sheets or 2 9×3-inch rounds (you need only 1/2 of one sheet)
this recipe originally intended for baking at 5300 ft. so sea-levelers may want to increase the baking powder a bit
14.5 oz. cake flour
8.75 oz. confectioner’s sugar
6.75 oz. whole milk
6 oz. canola oil
3.25 oz. eggs
0.5 oz. baking powder
13 oz. egg whites
9.5 oz. granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Oven 375°F. Prep pan by buttering bottom and sides. Place parchment in pan and butter the parchment. Sift dry ingredients (except granulated sugar) into a large bowl. Mix all ingredients (except the 13 ounces of egg whites and granulated sugar) in the large bowl until combined. Whip whites and granulated sugar to medium peaks. Fold into batter gently. Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and remove from pan. Let cool on a rack. Wrap the sheet you want to use in plastic and place in the freezer for a few hours. Remove from freezer and with a large serrated knife, cut the cake into two layers.
hazelnut swiss meringue buttercream
makes about 1.5 quarts
8 oz. egg whites
16 oz. sugar
1 lb. butter, room temperature
2 oz. hazelnut butter or praline paste
1 tbsp Frangelico, hazelnut liqueur
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp Nutella
Combine egg whites and sugar in a Kitchenaid mixing bowl. Whisk constantly over a bain marie until 140°F is reached. Place on mixer with whisk and whip until stiff. Turn down whip speed to 3rd and whip until cool to the touch (this takes a while – should be cooler than your hand). Change to a paddle and gradually add soft butter by tablespoon pieces. Mix to emulsify. Once desired consistency has been reached, add remaining ingredients to taste.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2/3 cup Frangelico, hazelnut liqueur
Heat water and sugar in a pot until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil and turn off heat. Let cool. Mix in liqueur.
1 lb. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups whipping cream
Place chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat cream in pan until simmering, then remove from heat. Pour cream over chocolate and let stand for 3 minutes. Stir until smooth and begin glazing when temperature reaches 90-95°F.
Assembly: Set first cake layer on a rack and brush 1 cup of syrup over the layer (you’ll think it will be springing leaks, but the cake can soak up a lot of liquid). Spread buttercream over the cake layer. Carefully set the second cake layer on top and soak in another cup of syrup. Move the assemblage to the freezer for an hour or more. Remove from freezer and on a cutting surface, use a large serrated knife to trim the sides and cut cake into 1×1-inch squares. Set the squares on a cooling rack over a baking sheet (to catch drips) with a minimum of an inch between each square. Pour the glaze over the squares. Garnish while glaze is still wet. Let cool until glaze hardens.