Petits fours month

Should every budding amateur patisserie chef have a signature petits fours plate? After a recent injection of inspiration, I enthusiastically say, yes.

Petits fours are dainty biscuits, tiny decorated cakes, and miniature confections traditionally served with dessert or with coffee at the end of the meal. They are also popular at luncheons and high teas, and growing in popularity. These small treats are designed to be light and nibbled in almost one mouthful.

Dry (sec) and fresh (frais), the selection of petits fours seems limited only by imagination. Madeleines, tuiles, friands, macarons, langues de chat, palmiers, truffles are a selection of petits fours sec, and mini choux éclairs, glacé fruits, iced or glazed cakes, tartlets some examples of petits fours frais.

Small, however, does not equal simple. Petits fours are delicate and often fiddly, and demand much patience. According to the French Culinary Institute, it is estimated that one quarter to one third of a pastry kitchen’s time is dedicated to preparing petits fours. That fact alone impressed me enough to investigate them further — and quickly conclude they were more than worthy of a full month of sweet study and hungry exploration on Mélanger.

What prompted all this interest initially? My inspiration was delivered on a white plate at Aria Brisbane at the end of the meal.

Aria dessert and petits fours

{ Images ::  Rich Valrhona chocolate délice with chocolate sorbet – Aria’s signature chocolate dessert – selection of truffles and Turkish delight petits fours @ Aria Brisbane }

After happily grazing on an amuse bouche of soy marinated tuna with daikon cucumber and truffle vinaigrette, then a starter of twice cooked Bangalow sweet pork belly with apple puree and black pudding, a main course of roasted lamb rack with cumin, labna and egg plant, and a dessert of rich Valrhona chocolate délice with chocolate sorbet (Aria’s signature chocolate dessert), the table was presented with coffee and petits fours – a selection of truffles and Turkish delight.

With satisfied, full bellies around the entire table, it did not take long for hands to reach, not so shyly, into the small treats.

Aria book and Matt Preston

{ Images :: Matt Preston’s book, Cravat-a-licious and Julia & Matt Preston @ book launch at Aria Brisbane }

The entire restaurant was there to celebrate the launch of Matt Preston’s book, Cravat-a-licious. Matt Preston’s larger than life personality left an indelible mark, but for me, so did the final course.

So this month, I will investigate a range of my own petits fours. I hope you enjoy the small taste I will showcase. Perhaps it will include a new favourite for you, too?

Do you already have a repertoire of miniature delights that you fall back on time and time again? Please share!

A small handful of cookbooks in my collection have dedicated sections on petits fours. I will be heavily referencing the following this month:

The Roux Brothers on Patisserie, Michel and Albert Roux
Indulge, Claire Clark
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts, The French Culinary Institute
Ripailles, Stéphane Reynaud
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2, Simone Beck & Julia Child

Thank you to Vogue Entertaining and Travel and News Magazine for my invitation to join the book launch at Aria Brisbane – and a big thank you for not being mortified at the table (and in fact being fully encouraging!) as I whipped out my camera to take snaps of Matt Preston and the dishes throughout the meal.