How to… do Petits Fours

I love petits fours for two reasons. One, they are rather posh! And two, sometimes three courses just aren’t enough and a chocolatey soupçon with coffee (which I also love!) is very welcome.

You don’t need to be a French pastry chef to make petits fours, nor do you need to rush out to Harrods to buy too-pretty-to-eat bite-sized desserts. Here is how I made them at home – inspired by Margots restaurant in Padstow where I like to gorge on their sticky toffee pudding prior to getting onto their petits fours.

First and foremost, it’s good to have something chocolatey in your petits fours mix. Margots serves homemade chocolate fudge with theirs so that’s what I went for too. You have two options when making fudge. You can make it properly using liquid glucose syrup or you can go for a bit of a cheat version (like I did) and use condensed milk. It takes 10 minutes to make this way and just needs to set overnight in the fridge. Simples.

I used this Kirstie Allsop recipe, though Nigella has a similar recipe with pistachio nuts. It stores well in the freezer and can be eaten as a melt-in-your-mouth sweet for months afterwards. You can also chop it into ice cream or pop into cellophane bags and give as Christmas gifts. The possibilities are endless!

Anyway, back to the petits fours…. you can make vanilla or traditional fudge if you prefer. Or you could make your own chocolate truffles or salted caramel bites even. Mmm!

To compliment the rich chocolate, it’s nice to serve something fruity. I used dark chocolate for my fudge, which goes well with forest fruits, so a handful of fresh and a few glacé cherries is what I opted for. Chocolate also goes well with strawberries, raspberries and figs.

Caramelised walnuts also work well with the chocolate and were the next component to my lil’ platter. Again, they are easy to make, caramelised hazelnuts would make a nice alternative.

Finally, I put Palmiers biscuits onto my platter. I’m slightly obsessed with these little things. If you’re patient enough to make puff pastry you can make them yourself really easily too. Palmiers go very well with all of the other petits fours ingredients as well as coffee. Equally you could serve amaretti or biscotti, which would be yummy with truffles instead of fudge.

Then it’s just a case of making sure that you and your guests save yourself some room to eat them!

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