Today (finally), I'm going to share my Perfect Petit Fours Recipe. These bite-size cakes are perfect for weddings, showers, or parties of any kind! Buttery cake with raspberry filling, cream cheese frosting and a hint of almond in the white chocolate icing makes them packed with delicious flavors!
Originally posted April 2015, updated June 2023
These vanilla petit fours don't always look perfect... but the taste and texture... yep. Perfect!
I mentioned to a client they weren't perfect and she said, "If they looked perfect, I wouldn't believe they were homemade!"
Good point. Mine aren't perfect, but once you bite into one, you won't care!
So, I kept making them... over and over again... to be sure it wasn't a fluke and now I can say with confidence, I'm in love with this recipe & method for making them!
They're delicious. One of my clients declared them "the best cake she'd ever had in her life!"
I won't say they're super easy... you do have to work for them! But I can say without hesitation they're worth every minute of work! And if you want to make them for Christmas, keep reading and see a pic down below! Or for Valentine's Day - be sure to check out my post here on Heart Shaped Petit Fours!
- Perfect Petit Fours Recipe
- Vanilla Petit Fours Ingredients:
- What's the best filling for petit fours?
- Equipment and Tools Needed for Petit Fours
- Petit Fours Recipe
- How to Make Petit Fours
- Petit Four Icing Recipe
- How to Make Petit Four Icing and Set up
- How to Ice Petit Fours (2 ways)
- Pro-Tips for Perfect Petit Fours
- How to Decorate Petit Fours
- Serving Recommendations
- Christmas Petit Fours
- How many petit fours are in one batch?
- Storage Directions
- Recipe FAQ
- More dessert ideas...
Perfect Petit Fours Recipe
Okay... so here we go. First, you're going to make up the recipe below for a simple butter cake. This is a scratch recipe (which y'all know is rare for me) but it's soooo worth it! It's also actually a pound cake recipe - courtesy of my friend Angela.
She gave it to me to make her daughter's wedding cake and told me (in passing) that it was good for petit fours. I'll be forever grateful for that tidbit!!
To keep this petit fours recipe easy, let's start with the ingredients for the cake batter. They're all very basic, which make it even more impressive how good this cake is!
Vanilla Petit Fours Ingredients:
- Butter - I prefer salted, but unsalted works as well. The tiny salt difference will not affect the recipe. The butter should be softened to room temperature.
- Shortening - Crisco is the only brand I use. I have a full post on shortening here if it's not an ingredient you use often.
- Vanilla extract - I'm partial to homemade vanilla extract, but store-bought works just as well!
- Eggs - large eggs at room temperature
- All-purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Evaporated milk - be careful here to not use condensed milk. And please don't use any substitutions. I'm not sure why, but evaporated milk is almost a secret ingredient here.
- Sour cream - use full-fat sour cream here and no substitutions
- Raspberry Filling (optional, and variations below) - if you want to use the homemade filing (which is far superior, I highly recommend making it a day or two beforehand).
- Cream Cheese Frosting
- Petit Four Icing
What's the best filling for petit fours?
Because the cake, cream cheese frosting, and petit four icing are all sweet and rich, I love to contrast the filling with something tart. But really, the sky is the limit. Here are my favorite petit four fillings (and some other options):
- Raspberry Filling - this is one of my top two popular fillings. You could also use strawberry filling if you like but the raspberry is a perfect complement to the almond and white chocolate. You will likely want to make this ahead of time!
- Lemon Curd - this is my other most popular filling. I also have a microwave version here or you can buy it pre-made at your local grocery store.
- Fruit Jams - instead of making your own filling, you can use any store-bought jam that you love as filling!
- Marzipan (almond paste) - this is another classic and traditional filling for petit fours. I much prefer the fruit filling, but if you love almond flavor, you will love petit fours filled with marzipan.
- Caramel - I haven't ever tried this, but I imagine it would be amazing! I'd probably skip the almond flavoring in the icing and use vanilla instead!
Equipment and Tools Needed for Petit Fours
- Half Sheet Pan (bonus points if you have a lid for it!)
- Parchment Paper or Silicone Mats
- Mixing Bowls
- Hand Mixer
- Flexible Cutting Boards
- Cake leveler or Agbay or large serrated knife
- Skewers (optional) for dipping
- Cooling rack or wire rack
Petit Fours Recipe
This is the recipe for the butter cake that is the STAR of these petit fours. I have recipes for the filling, frosting, and icing below.
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Prep a 13"x18" half-sheet pan. These Nordic Pans are my favorite... I have about a dozen of them! I line the pan with parchment paper, then spray down the edges with non-stick baking spray.
- In a large bowl, cream together the sugar, butter and shortening until smooth then beat in vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, until fluffy.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt). To save some time, you can also whisk it all together.
- Add this flour mixture and the evaporated milk to the original mixture alternately. With an electric mixer, beat for 2 minutes on medium speed, then fold in the sour cream.
- Pour the batter onto a prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (check at 25 minutes!).
- See the instructions above for assembling the cake and icing the petit fours.
How to Make Petit Fours
- Flip the cooled cake out onto a work surface on another piece of parchment paper.
- Torte the cake into two thin layers. Y'all... torting (or splitting cake layers) is pretty new for me, but you really should for petit fours. You get to add in a little extra special bit of flavor and it makes them pretty too!
Note: Torting is easily done with my Agbay, (which I LOOOVE) but you can also use a less expensive cake leveler such as this extra-wide cake leveler. As a last resort, you can also torte the cake free-hand using a long serrated bread knife - just be careful because this cake is thin and it would be easy to mess it up!
- With the cake bottom-up on parchment paper, lift the top layer onto another sheet of parchment paper. I've found the easiest way to do this is to slide a flexible cutting board into the cut, then simply lift it off.
- If you're using a filling, such as raspberry or lemon curd, spread a thin layer onto the cut side of the cake.
- Then spread a thin layer of frosting. I use both filling and frosting, but you could use frosting only if you don't want to use a fruit filling.
Note: for the filling - today I'm using raspberry. You could make your own raspberry filling or use raspberry jam. I have my Raspberry Filling recipe here and it's perfect and so easy! My only tip would be to make it ahead of time! For other ideas, check out the list below.
- Using the flexible cutting board again, place the top layer of cake over the filling and/or frosting layer, lining up the edges.
- Finally, the last step before freezing the cake is to put another layer of frosting on top. I use this as an opportunity to level out any low spots and make a really smooth, clean surface for the poured frosting!
This layer of frosting can be as thin or thick as you like, so long as it's level and smooth. Why? Because the poured icing on top will only be as smooth as the surface it's poured over!
- Once you have that top layer of frosting smooth, cut off the edges so you'll have really nice squares. Plus, you get to eat the edges and I have to tell you - they're much fought over in this house!!
- Freeze the cake. I lift it (with the parchment underneath), put it back on the sheet pan I baked it on, put a lid on (love these with lids!!), and then I put it in the freezer for around an hour.
Petit Four Icing Recipe
To keep this post from being miles long, I'm not going to share the full step-by-step icing recipe here. I do have it in the recipe card below or you can read a full post about it here: Petit Four Icing.
How to Make Petit Four Icing and Set up
- Make the icing. While the petit fours are freezing, I work on the set-up and the icing. I use this Petit Four Icing recipe (be sure to start prepping it before you take the cakes out of the freezer).
Here's my icing setup... a make-shift double boiler:
- When the cake comes out of the freezer, use a sharp knife to cut it into squares (1-1.25 inches square). Sometimes I just eyeball it, sometimes I use my sewing ruler and/or a straight edge to get them perfect. I've also found the smallest biscuit cutter in this set works great! Do whatever makes you happy!
- Place them on a cooling rack.
- Working quickly (they're easier to keep pretty and square when they're cold), I move a small batch of them to the prepped cooling rack and immediately start covering with icing.
- TIP: Freeze the remaining cake while you work and only take out as much as you can dip before it begins to thaw (I usually do 10-12 at a time on small baking sheets).
How to Ice Petit Fours (2 ways)
Icing Method #1: skewer each frozen square in the side and dip the cake in the melted icing.
Below is a short (informal) video of us skewering from the bottom. Now we do it from the side as seen above, but you'll get the idea!
NOTE: If you're using an adblocker, you must turn it OFF to see this video!!
Icing Method #2: ladle the icing over the frozen cakes while they're sitting on the cooling rack. I first ladle the icing around the sides and then into the middle. You must work quickly because it will set up fast.
- Whichever method you choose, when you place the dipped or coated petit fours on a cooling rack, the excess runs off and onto the paper or silicone mat below. It can be reused if it doesn't have a bunch of cake crumbs in it. Let it firm up and you can peel it off and put it back into your bowl to re-melt! No waste... which I love!!
- If you're adding sprinkles or any decorations that need to stick, add them before the icing sets (which is quick because the cake is cold).
- Otherwise, let them set then decorate.
After the petit fours are iced, let them firm up for a few minutes - the icing sets fast because they're cold - and then you can move them to a platter or individual candy cups (my favorite way to present them).
Pro-Tips for Perfect Petit Fours
- If you don't have an Agbay and/or flexible cutting board to torte your cake into layers, you can make this job less stressful by cutting the cake into fourths before you start working. Then use a serrated knife to torte the smaller cake squares. It'll be much easier to handle in small portions when removing the top layer to fill with fruit and frosting.
- Do not skip the freezing step! Dipping the small cake squares is exponentially easier with frozen cake.
- In that same vein, dip or coat the cubed cake in small batches and keep the other cake in the freezer while you work.
- Spread any fruit filling that you choose very thin. If it's thick, it will cause the cake to slide around and be more difficult to handle.
- Use almond bark (my preference) or white chocolate bars for the poured icing recipe. White chocolate chips are very difficult to melt and get smooth.
- As with almost all baking recipes, it's best to have your ingredients (eggs, butter, cream cheese, etc.) at room temperature.
- Follow the detailed instructions or alternating the wet and dry ingredients when mixing.
- For perfectly square and uniform petit fours, use a biscuit cutter to cut your squares. I recommend the smallest one in this set.
- If you don't need several dozen petit fours, you can use a portion of the sheet and freeze the remaining cake (before or after filling). If it's wrapped up tight and/or covered well, it will keep in the freezer for 3-4 weeks!
- If you want to use homemade raspberry filling or lemon curd, I highly recommend making it ahead of time (hours or days ahead). Otherwise, a store bought alternative might be best!
How to Decorate Petit Fours
Brush of color - My favorite way to decorate petit fours is a brush of gold or color across one side. For the petit fours in this post, we did a brush of hot pink. Beneath that picture, you can see others where we used a brush of gold. I always use Sweet Sticks Edible Paints for this.
Fondant decorations - I used a tiny bow mold to make the burgundy bows on the petit fours below. They were for a dessert display at a wedding.
Flowers: You can also add fondant, buttercream, or royal icing decorations to petit fours. Examples are the bows above and the flowers (buttercream and fondant) below.
Initials or monograms are great decorations for petit fours for baby showers, bridal showers, or weddings.
Drizzle of white or colored icing or chocolate is simple and fits most any decor. I recommend gel food color if you want to change the icing color.
Candy or sprinkles can be added to petit fours to make them fun! You should do this before the icing sets!
Stamps: One last idea is to use a stamp. I made custom chocolate medallions stamped with the couples initials for their more formal wedding.
- Petit fours are best served at room temperature.
- I always serve petit fours in candy cups. These are slightly smaller than cupcake liners but cupcake liners will work in a pinch!
- Petit fours are so versatile - you can serve them as a stand-alone dessert or as one dessert of many on a dessert bar. They're perfect for weddings, birthdays, baby and bridal showers, or even family gatherings and holidays.
Christmas Petit Fours
Here's a bonus nugget for you! If you're a fellow home baker like I am, Christmas petit fours are one of my top sellers! This past year we adapted the recipe to a Christmas Petit Fours recipe!
We baked two sheets, one red, and one green, then mix-matched the top and bottom layers to make them red and green on the inside. To finish them off, we added a brush of gold on the outside and they were perfection! Here's a quick (slightly blurry) photo we snapped:
How many petit fours are in one batch?
NOTE: This recipe will yield ~84 petit fours at the size listed above (1.25-inch squares). However this will vary if you cut smaller or larger petit fours or you free-hand them. My daughter cuts them slightly larger and gets around 60-70 petit fours per batch. If you cut smaller 1-inch squares and don't trim too much off the edges, you can get as many as 130 petit fours from one batch.
- Petit fours are okay at room temperature for a few hours.
- To keep them overnight or longer, they need to be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to a week.
- Can petit fours be frozen? Yes, they can be frozen for up to 2 months if stored in a freezer-safe container.
Petit fours are small bite-sized cakes. The word petit four in French actually translates to "small oven." In France, bakers would bake their breads first, and then as the ovens cooled, they would bake smaller pastries. The lower temperature was called baking "a petit four" and thus, the cakes were named!
What I'm sharing today are technically petit fours glacé which means they are glazed with icing or poured fondant. Bottom line - small cakes with a glaze icing.
Yes! There are two ways. First, you can go all the way through the steps of baking, filling, and frosting the cake, then wrap it whole and freeze it for up to 2 months. Then thaw it overnight in a fridge before cutting, dipping and decorating.
Alternatively, you can go ahead and cut and dip the petit fours, then freeze them in a freezer-save container. I would hold off on decorating until just before serving.