Cakes of all sizes count. The big, crazy, gravity defying sculpted ones AND the teeny tiny little ones.
Like these apricot and sweetened ricotta petit fours.
Translated as “tiny oven” from it’s French origin, they most definitely are small, the perfect bite of cake. Sweeter than their larger party-style cousins served in heaping wedges, the rich frangipane cake and thin traditional glaze rival any other dessert. They’ve come and gone in popularity but MAN they NEED to come back! I could live off of these.
Typically, they are made not with sponge cake (which can be dry and crumbly) but with frangipane, a sweet, moist and dense almond paste based cake made of only 5 ingredients. It’s almond flavor is intense and satisfying and if you’ve never tried it, it’s far more like a pastry than a cake. So. Very. GOOD.
Also, traditionally filled with a thin layer of raspberry jam, topped with a thin layer of marzipan and glazed with a thinned apricot jam before the final poured fondant layer. I was feeling a bit more seasonal, so I reduced some fresh apricots and sweetened a bit of ricotta cheese for the filling. I topped them with a thin layer of marzipan, because hey… more almonds, and then glazed with a poured fondant.
And now, I’m going to share them with you! Read on…
(All of my specialty ingredients can be found in the little Amazon box at the bottom of the page.)
Makes one baked half sheet pan
- Almond paste 7 oz.
- Sugar 7 oz.
- Butter 7 oz.
- Eggs, room temperature 9 oz.
- Cake flour 3 oz.
- Preheat oven to 400°F
- Combine almond paste with a small amount of butter and cream smooth, free of any lumps.
- Add remaining butter and sugar and continue to cream.
- Add ½ eggs mix, and scrape. Add remaining eggs and mix just to incorporate.
- Add sifted flour, folding by hand.
- Pour mixture onto a greased sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 8 minutes until the top just barely becomes golden.
- Refrigerate in the pan until cool
Fresh Apricot Reduction
This reduction is made using the same technique as my raspberry reduction found in my Vanilla, Passion Fruit and Raspberry Cake.
Oh yes! It really IS that brilliantly orange. It’s impressive. Three ingredients are all that’s needed:
- 1.5 cups chopped fresh apricots
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Just follow the link above to see the directions. Super easy. Like easy peasy lemon squeezey.
Sweetened Ricotta Filling
I love cassata cake and cannolis and figured the petit fours would lend well to a similar filling.
Oh. It did!
I simply mixed the ricotta and powdered sugar by hand.
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar (or to taste)
Putting it all together…
You’ll assemble the cake on a half sheet pan, simply use the one you had your cake resting in. Cut the frangipane cake in half widthwise and place half on the sheet tray. Spread a thin and even layer of ricotta filling on the top of one half of the cake. Spoon the apricot reduction over the ricotta and very gently spread, taking care not to mix the two together. Carefully turn the second half of the cake upside down and place it atop the filling. Lastly, roll out your marzipan super thin and drape it over the top layer of the cake. You do not need to “stick” it one with anything. The moisture from the dense cake will melt a bit of the sugar in the marzipan and get them to meld.
Now here’s the important part… Weight it down!
How? Place a piece of parchment over top of the second layer and then place another sheet tray on top and add some weight to it like magazines, a bag of flour… anything to create some compression. Leave it like that for a bout an hour or two. You’re looking for them to be compact and an even height across the entire cake.
Next, wrap the sheet tray in plastic, airtight, and place in the freezer for no less than 2 hours. You’ll remove the sheet tray once the cake is frozen through and cut them to 3/4 inch square pieces with a straight edged knife.
Just LOOK at that beautiful, rich, sweet almond cake! Time to glaze it!
I used a recipe and method from King Arthur Flour found HERE. I did add about 1/4 cup hot simple syrup to the mixture to thin it to a great pouring consistency. It’s suggested to pour once, and then pour a second coating over the individual petit fours, but I find that to be much too sweet. And I like being able to see all the beautiful layers through a thin coating of poured fondant.
It’s a bunch of little steps, BUT so very worth it! Let’s bring these delicious little morsels back into fashion… Old lady cakes NO MORE! 😉