Saturday, October 28, 2006

SHF#24: Little Bites of Delight

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!


Anne said...

Oh, I have an infinite amount of mint! My plant has grown absolutely huge, it's taking over the world! :) So - do tell, how do I make those leaves..? Just dip regular mint leaves?

Anonymous said...

These looks wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Could somebody explain to me how you Estonian beauties manage to remain so trim after all these indecently rich feasts?!

thepassionatecook said...

you know i don't like candied peel very much, but the mint-covered leaves sound absolutely divine... what a great idea!

Bonnie said...

This is such a wonderful idea! This is certainly going to be filed in the recesses of my mind for later use!

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille,

You know, i've never thought of it - mint leaves dipped in chocolate for after dinner treats... what a fabulous idea!!!

You've just inspired me :) thanks!

Johannes said...

Next step: molecular biology?

A big chunk of pork is just waiting for me in the kitchen.

(Oh, it really seemed a dirty thing to say at the moment)

Jeanne said...

Oh Pille, what a smorgasbord!! I love the dipped leaves, as well as the chilli chocolate disks. K sounds like a keeper too ;-)

Thanks for a great contribution to SHF#24 :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Pille, glad to see you're settling in to your new home, and back to posting with a vengeance! Hope you're not missing Edinburgh too much yet ;)

I was sorry not to be able to make it to your leaving party, but who knows - maybe one of these days we'll make it to Estonia! In the meantime I look forward to reading all about the food right here.

Joycelyn said...

hi pille, for someone who's not into fiddling with the small and sweet, what a fabulous spread! hope all is well with you and that you're settling back home nicely...

Pille said...

Anne - dipping just regular mint or lemonbalm leaves into chocolate might work, too, but PH brushes his first with lightly whipped egg whites, sprinkles with fine sugar and lets them dry, and then dips in chocolate.

K&S - thanks!

Roxy - not sure we do, I'm 20 kilos heavier than I was when I left high school:( But then we use lots of calories to stay warm in this chilly climate;)

Johanna - believe me, K's candied orange peel was great, and I'm addicted to candied ginger in dark chocolate. But yes, this is such a great alternative to after dinner mints.

Bonnie - wonderful! Let me know how you got on!

Mae - you're welcome.

Johannes - how does my chocolate spread make you think of pork chops is beyond me:)

Jeanne - thank you for hosting this round! And yes, K. seems like a true gem indeed:)

Melissa - pity you didn't make it to the party indeed, but yes, we could meet in Estonia indeed:) And to be really honest, I haven't yet started missing Edinburgh. Oops. But I will one day..

J - well, I only fiddled with one of the small and sweet bites, K. did the rest:)