Apparently, I am destined never to make petits fours. It is written in the stars.
Back at college-- an old-school, East Coast, Seven Sisters type of place-- we used to have elegant teas. Yes, tea, as in teatime. Don't knock it till you've tried it! And at certain special teas and garden parties, we would get these delectable, adorable, addictive little cakes, not unlike the ones you see here from The Dessert Course. Oh, they were so good! Light, lemony, you could eat about a dozen and still be reaching back for more.
Since I graduated I have never had petits fours so good.
Being the eternal optimist, I've tried off and on, over the years, to make petits fours. I won't even tell you how many times, but I have never, never, ever, EVER achieved success. What can I say? Bad recipes for cake, bad recipes for fondant, unevenly heating ovens. You name, it's killed my cakes.
This time, though, I thought I had it nailed. I was making petits fours for a baby shower last Sunday. I had a nice recipe for almond cake, which I hoped would stay nice and moist, and give me a pretty tight crumb, so the cakes would stand up to being cut so small.
We had a fondant I liked, and I thought I'd gotten the hang of getting the cake layers to just the right height. I had strained apricot jam mixed with bittersweet orange marmalade standing by and marzipan to give me an extra smooth surface on the top.
I've had some experience with the wedding cake construction now, so the batter went just fine-- nice and light, tasty.
I had the cakes stacked with layers of jam, and refrigerated. It cut into dozens of cakes smoothly and evenly. The marzipan was spread very cleanly on the top. and everything was ready for fondant. But I was behind schedule. I had to get to the venue to unlock the doors for everyone else, but I planned to just do that, and then do the final icing while everyone else worked on setup. and decorations.
So, I put the cakes on a baking sheet and headed out the door. I put it down on a cooler and turned to lock the door and.... BAM!
Cakes. All over the floor. ALL over the floor.
I couldn't even get that worked up about it. Somehow, it just seemed like the predetermined end. No petits fours.
Petits fours disastres have happened so often to me now that this doesn't even qualify as unusual. This IS the way it's supposed to be. I just piled them all back up onto the sheet and left them on the kitchen table.
So that's that. I'm done, out, finis. I am definitely NOT the Ace of Cakes -- more like the Two of Cakes.
Maybe next time, I'll just order them from Divine Delights and pretend I made them myself.