Petit four. A petit four is a small fancy cake, biscuit, or sweet - such as a piece of marzipan or a crystallized or chocolate covered fruit - typically severed nowadays with coffee at the end of a meal. The term is French in origin. It means literally 'small oven', and may have come from the practice of cooking tiny cakes and biscuits a petit four, that is in low oven, at low temperature'. It was adopted into English in the late nineteenth century.
An A-Z of Food & Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 252)
The latest round of Sugar High Friday is hosted by Jeanne and she wanted us to make Little Bites of Delight. To be really honest, tiny fiddly sweet thingies aren't really my cup of tea. Don't get me wrong - I love eating them, I do. But to prepare them seems like too much fuss for too little. I'd rather bake a cake a la Nigella with oranges, cherries or cranberries or bake my apple cake. K, on the other hand, enjoys preparing fiddly food. He even made me look up a book that I hadn't looked at since I inherited it from a colleague some eight years ago (aitäh, Ave!). Whereas I hadn't bookmarked a single recipe in "The Book of Chocolates and Petit Fours" by Beverley Sutherland Smith (HP Books, 1986) , K. got all excited, like a small kid in a candy store, listing a recipe after recipe to try.
In any case we made four different little bites of delight last night. I had for a long time wanted to make Pierre Herme's chocolate dipped mint leaves that I've mentioned here. Now was my chance, but sadly I couldn't find fresh mint leaves in the supermarket. However, they did stock fresh lemon balm, a great favourite of mine. So I used that instead, resulting in a lovely alternative to after dinner mints - crisp and light and fragrant.
K. contributed the other three petit fours: candied orange peel dipped in dark chocolate, chocolate disks infused with chilli syrup and covered with candied red chillies, and finally some delightfully tiny cranberry and almond macarons.
Mmmm, I'm off to try some of those little bites of delight now. Again..
PS I've previously written about spicy sugared almonds, which would also make perfectly nice little bites of delight, especially as we're getting closer to the mulled wine season..
UPDATE 30.10.2006: Here's Jeanne's roundup!