As much as I like making desserts I rarely have room for one when I eat out. This doesn’t mean that I don’t hanker for a sweet little something after my meal. This is why my eyes light up at the appearance of a plate of petit fours. I can always find a small crevice in my oh-so-full tummy for a bite sized treat.
Part of the joy of eating petit fours in a restaurant is the knowledge that I haven’t personally had to fiddle with them to make them look pretty. Whilst I love baking I have never had much patience for the sugar craft side of things. I simply like to have my cake and eat it (unless of course someone else has kindly added the embellishments for me). Then earlier this year a copy of Treat Petite by Fiona Pearce arrived in the post. My first thought was that I would never have the time or the inclination to make these miniature treats. But as I flicked through the book I was gradually seduced by the recipes and images of Early Grey Madeleines with Honey-orange Glaze, Micro Meringue Kisses and Chai-spiced Palmiers. As Fiona says in the introduction to her book:
There’s an Alice in Wonderland charm about teeny chocolate éclairs, delectable miniature Victoria sponge cakes, button-like macarons…any little treats you can just pop in your mouth and finish in a bite.
I think it would be fair to say that some of the recipes are more fiddly than others and some do require specialist equipment (like the mini Madeleines). However, I tried two recipes which tickled my fancy (Cinnamon Meringue Mushrooms and Coffee Bean Biscuits, an adapted version of which you will find below) and found the recipes easy to follow plus I was pleased with the end result. OK, so my versions aren’t quite as pretty as Fiona’s but this is a lady who posts tutorials on how to make baking and craft projects on her blog icingbliss.blogspot.com. Some of the recipes seem to make staggering quantities but you just have to remind yourself that, at the end of the day, they are only small mouthfuls.
If you’re inclined to make edible gifts for Christmas presents or as end of term presents for teachers, then you’ll definitely love this book for inspiration. And if canapés are your thing too, then you’ll love the last chapter on miniature savouries. Profiteroles with Blue Cheese Mousse anyone?
Mocha Bean Biscuits
Adapted from Treat Petite by Fiona Pearce
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Fiona’s original recipe for Coffee Bean Biscuits. I just love the combination of coffee and chocolate (plus I have no problem in fiddling with recipes). I also halved Fiona’s quantities as the thought of making 200 biscuits, however small, was quite alarming. That said these biscuits are surprisingly quick and easy to make and so moreish that it wouldn’t take long for 200 to disappear.
- 90g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp espresso powder or instant coffee granules
- 1 tbsp boiling water
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 170g plain flour
- 30g cocoa powder
- Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Gradually, beat in the egg until well combined. Mix the espresso powder or coffee granules with the boiling water to form a syrup. Add the coffee syrup and vanilla extract to the butter and sugar mixture and beat until smooth.
- Sift in the flour and cocoa, then mix gently with a spoon until well combined. Form the dough into a flattened disc, wrap it in cling film and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour until firm.
- Preheat the oven to 180℃. Line a baking sheet with baking paper (I used a silicone liner). Allow the dough to soften slightly at room temperature. I cut the dough into 10 evenly sized pieces then rolled each piece into a long sausage shape. I cut each dough ‘sausage’ into 10 segments each roughly 1cm long then rolled these into small ovals before placing them on the lined baking sheet. Press a cocktail stick horizontally along each biscuit to imprint a line down the centre to form the coffee bean shape. Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 3-5 minutes until just firm to the touch. Allow them to cool completely on a wire rack.