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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Orange Shortbread Petit Fours

Say what?

Back to the cooking side.

First, a definition. What is a petit four? The simplest aspect is that a petit four is a dessert that can be eaten in one or two bites. It can be a petit four sec (dry - a plain cookie), a petit four glace (iced - the image everyone has of a small cake with icing coating it all around), a fresh petit four (typically with fruit), and the new 'it thing' - petit four prestige (using new techniques and tools). It should complement the meal, echo the flavors, without necessarily utilizing the same ingredients or flavors. (Huh? If you have a raspberry vinaigrette on your salad, your petit four might have another citrus but not raspberry.) The key, for me, is the single bite - so that's what I did.

I made an orange shortbread cookie and filled it with a cream cheese orange icing. You want to see?

The little minion is there for fun. Okay, yeah, for scale.

Ready to cook? Okay - here we go!


1 cup butter, softened (BUTTER, not margarine! You need butter for the melting point.)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour, sifted (All-purpose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp. heavy cream
zest of 1 medium orange


12 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz butter, softened (see note above about butter)
2 tbsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp orange extract
zest of 1 medium orange
13 1/2 oz confectioner's sugar
a/n Yellow food coloring

The zest is a key - the most potent part of the orange, with all the oils and the greatest concentration of flavor. If you don't have a microplane, do yourself a favor - go get one! They're only a few bucks.

Okay, you're going to be bouncing back and forth between the two recipes, so we're going to number the steps. The step will be followed by a (C) for cookie or (I) for icing, so you can separate the recipes later. If there is no ( ), then it's for the combined recipe.
Helpful hint: Pull your butter and cream cheese from the fridge WELL before it's time to cook.

1) Sift together salt and flour (C)
2) Add zest to sugar and mix until sugar is uniformly colored (this allows a greater spread of the orange flavor, it will be carried with the sugar). Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. In 2-3 additions, stir flour into the butter mix (C)
3) Add vanilla and cream, stir until just incorporated (C)
4) Separate dough into two portions, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2-3 hours. If pressed, place in freezer for 1-2 hours (do NOT allow to freeze!) (C)
5) Mix together cream cheese and zest. Once mixed, add half the sugar - mix until no lumps are present (I)
6) Mix together butter and remaining sugar - mix until no lumps are present (I) (If you are making this icing for a cake, mix as little as possible - for this use, you want it a little bit more spreadable)
7) Add butter mix to cream cheese mix and combine. Add vanilla and extract (I) (If you don't have orange extract, substitute 2 oz of orange juice [look! fresh orange juice, squeezed!] for the vanilla)
8) Preheat oven to 350 F (325F if using a convection oven) (C)
9) Remove half the dough from cooler and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick (C) (You can also use confectioners sugar in place of flour, but make sure you sift it first. The benefit? You don't end up with patches of flour unmixed on the cookies.)
10) Cut out cookies - roughly 1" circles (C)
11) Place cookies on parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just golden around edges (C)
12) Allow to cool to touch (C)
13) Place icing in a piping bag (in a pinch, a gallon storage bag will work), cut a 1/4" diameter hole
14) Set half the cookies upside-down. Apply piping to center of cookie, coming to 1/8" from edge of cookie and rising 1/2". Top with remaining cookies and refrigerate 10-15 minutes (to firm up icing)

That wasn't so bad, was it? ENJOY!

As always, looking forward to your comments and pictures!

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