A Whole World of Sweet Mini-Bites — Tout un monde de petites bouchées sucrées

finger food mini bites

Petits Fours with Lime Cream and Dark Chocolate

A world offered on a plate, made of sweet one-bite delicacies, little nibbles of pleasure delicately prepared.

Preparing these little treats allowed me to revisit the memory and experience of the kid playing with some pâte à modeler (modeling paste), or feel like a painter playfully chosing colors to put on his canvas. It felt sweet. You can have one, two, three, many more, they are so small that it does not matter how many you eat, after all! We call them mignardises, from the word “miniature”, or petits fours. They are the quintessence of the perfect sweet food for a buffet at a party. And buffets are fun, aren’t they?

My most memorable buffet story happened in fact many years ago, centuries it seems to me by now, when my brother B. got married. As typical of things happening in a small village, my father — who was le maire du village (the village mayor) at the time — and my mum wanted to organize a big wedding for B. In France, what this usually means is that the whole village and people from surrounding villages as well are invited for l’apéritif, that long qui-n’en finit-pas event preceding an even longer dinner, where a smaller crowd is invited. I still remember the number of guests, 300 people or more. The question as to how we were going to feed all those hungry and thirsty mouths seemed to only occur once the invitations were sent. And we obviously needed a solution quickly. My parents could have thought of using a caterer but instead, my mum proudly decided that she was going to take care of it and prepare the food. With my help, she and I started the whole project of making and baking amuse-bouches and petits-fours of all sorts, weeks ahead of time. “On en compte 3 à 5 par personne,” I remember her telling me (count 3 to 5 pieces per person). 5 x 300 = 1500. We would need that many. When we started, the first batches we made kept me amused and enthusiastic. As the number grew however, my enthusiasm decreased, and when the last ones finally came, I was just so pleased to be done with it! Fini ! Before D-Day arrived, I was even persuaded that we were going to have plenty of leftovers since instead of making 1500 as estimated by our calculation, we decided to make a few hundreds more. Au cas où ! (Just in case) On the day of the wedding, we were ready. Lines of trays full of colorful savory and sweet mini-bites of different shapes were nicely arranged on tables in the kitchen. With in my hands a tray full of these homemade petits-fours, I was walking amongst the crowd assembled in the large communal room rented for the event, thinking about the amount of leftovers we were going to have for the following day. We made far too many, I was thinking. But soon enough, I started to realize that the petits-fours were way more successful than I had anticipated. I remember des invités (guests) whom I did not even know so well stop me to grab a few more while they still had their mouth full with one or two. How can they do this?, I thought. Greedy! Within an hour, les mignardises were all gone. Disparues ! No need to add that for a few years afterwards, my desire to make any types of petits-fours and mignardises had vanished. I had to take the time to recuperate.

Back to 2006, many years later, I have finally found a good excuse to plunge myself back into the experience of making heaps of petits-fours. I do not think that I need to introduce anyone to the Sugar High Friday event, which I love so much. Could there be a better way to challenge anyone willing to try new things in the complex realm of sweets? For someone like me, not really much of a fancy pâtissière but always trying to improve mes points faibles (weaknesses), occasions like this are perfect. And this month turns out to be a lucky one for me. Indeed, hosted by Jeanne from Cook Sister, this month’s theme is nothing else but mini bites or mignardises. If you have followed me in my cooking adventures, you already knew that I am particularly fond of any type of small, one-bite-sized food.

For the occasion, I decided to make petits fours made with a pâte brisée aux amandes (sweet pastry crust with a base of almond ), and a crème au citron vert (a lime cream on top). The edges of the pastry shells were decorated with dark chocolate and the lime filling topped with an array of colorful fresh seasonal fruit. I made far less than for my brother’s wedding, of course, since I did not have the same crowd to feed at home. Still, before I realized it, they were gone in no time. Petits-fours just have this effect on people, a je-ne-sais-quoi.


Coating the tartlet shell edges with dark chocolate

Petits Fours with Lime Cream and Dark Chocolate

You need:

Almond Sweet Crust

  • 5 1/3 oz pastry flour
  • 1 oz almond flour
  • 1.5 oz confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3.5 oz butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg

For the lime filling

  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 3/4 oz butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup fine cane sugar

For the garnish

  • 1 3/4 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa min.)
  • Fruits, such as fresh plum, pomegranate, berries

Steps:

For the almond sweet crust

  • Work the butter in a stand mixer, with hook attachment until softer, and add the salt, almond flour, confectioner’s sugar and flour.
  • When the dough is crumbly, add the egg and mix rapidly, making sure not to overwork the dough.
  • Make a ball and cover it in plastic wrap. Place it in the fridge for 1 hour minimum before using it.
  • Roll the dough and garnish mini molds with it.
  • Preheat your oven at 350 F.
  • Prick the bottom of the tartles with a fork and prebake the tartlets for 10 mns (bottom covered with foil paper or parchment paper with a weight on top, such as beans or rice).
  • Remove the small pieces of paper and continue to cook for 3 mns. Remove them from the oven and unmold on a cooling rack to let them cool down.

For the lime cream

  • Mix all the ingredients in a heat-resistant bowl and place it on top of a pot of simmering water, to cook using the bain-marie technique. Mix until the cream thickens, then remove. Let cool down and cover the cream before placing it in the fridge until it is cold.

For the chocolate and fruit garnish

  • Melt the chocolate using the bain-marie technique and place in a hollow plate. Dip the edges of the tartlets in the melted chocolate and let cool down until the chocolate hardens.
  • Garnish the tartlet shells with the lime cream and decorate with freshly cut fruit, such as plums, pomegranate seeds, and some stripes of chocolate if you want (use a fork and rapidly move the fork above the tartlets.)
  • Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Le coin français
Petits fours à la crème au citron vert avec chocolat noir

Ingrédients :

Pâte sablée aux amandes

  • 150 g de farine
  • 30 g de poudre d’amandes
  • 40 g de sucre glace
  • 1 pincée de sel
  • 100 g de beurre à température ambiante
  • 1 oeuf

Pour la garniture au citron vert

  • 120 ml de jus de citron vert
  • 80 g de beurre
  • 2 oeufs
  • 150 g de sucre fin en poudre

Pour la décoration

  • 50 g de chocolat noir (70% min.)
  • Fruits frais tels que des prunes, grenade, fruits rouges

Étapes :

Pour la pâte sablée aux amandes

  • Mélangez le beurre dans un pétrin à crochet, ajoutez le sel, puis la poudre d’amandes, le sucre glace et la farine.
  • Quand vous obtenez des grumeaux, ajoutez l’oeuf et mélangez rapidement, sans trop travailler la pâte.
  • Rassemblez-la en boule et enveloppez-la dans du film alimentaire. Mettez au frais 1 heure minimum avant de vous en servir.
  • Étalez la pâte et garnissez-en des moules à petits fours.
  • Préchauffez votre four à 180 C.
  • Piquez le fond des tartelettes et faites-les précuire a blanc pendant 10 mns (avec papier aluminium et des grains de riz par exemple).
  • Enlevez le papier et continuez la cuisson 3 mns. Sortez du four et démoulez sur une grille pour les laisser refroidir.

Pour la crème au citron vert

  • Mélangez les ingrédients dans un bol et faites prendre au bain-marie, sans cesser de remuer. Une fois que la crème épaissit, laissez-la refroidir avant de la mettre au frigo.

Pour la décoration au chocolat et aux fruits

  • Faites fondre le chocolat noir au bain-marie et trempez les bords des tartes dans le chocolat. Laissez refroidir.
  • Garnissez les tartes de crème au citron vert et décorez avec du chocolat fondu (utilisez une fourchette que vous plongez dans le chocolat pour faire la décoration.)
  • Décorez avec des fruits de votre choix, grenade, myrtilles, prunes.
  • Saupoudrez de sucre glace.

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Posted in Chocolate, Dessert, Fruit, Tarts | 64 Comments

64 comments

  1. Wow you don’t hold back do you Bea. You are a machine!!!
    I wish I lived closer so I could help you polish off those gorgeous pastries : )

  2. My GOD Bea!! Why don’t you just open your own catering business already??!! This is too good to be just making them for yourself ;-), and anyway, since you have the experience in making so many, catering to a big crowd is a piece of cake for you! Thanks for the idea, now I’m considering doing a “finger food” party for my husband’s colleagues. I’m sure the italians will wonder, “Finger? Food?” :-D

  3. Hummm… j’en veux un… o deux… o trois… Est ce quet u as beaucoup et moi rien… c’est dommage…

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  5. Bea, ton texte m’a fait sourire et m’a rappele mon propre mariage, quand mes parents se sont mis dans la tete d’inviter tout le village au vin d’honneur et de tout faire nous memes. Nous avons tous passe trois jours en cuisine avant mon mariage – je deconseille absolument a tout le monde ce genre d’experience, faites le pour le mariage des autres, pas pour le votre.
    Anyway, je craque pour tes mignardises au citron, je vais m’en faire, c’est sur!

  6. These are beautiful! I get frustrated with things that are so small, I love how they look in the end, but I think I drive myself crazy trying to make anything mini.

  7. I am dying here looking at those pictures! they look delicious and so beautiful! Very disappointed that they are all gone, though : (

  8. Mais que ces photos sont belles, et merci pour les explications détaillées, avec ça pas possible de rater !

  9. Lovely story! I remember the same thing with ‘fancy sandwiches’ from a big family celebration in Canada. They took days, weeks even, to make, then were gone just like that. Very fun, the little tarts are gorgeous, too.

  10. Bea…these are gorgeous petits fours. I always have this perchant for fruit tarts…especially when they are so adorably enticing like these. Great job!

  11. Utterly gorgeous!!!

    Your story reminded me of my niece’s christening this summer. My brother and his girlfriend asked me to help out. The biggest amount of small food i could possibly make. We were making them for the whole week nonstop.

    You’ve done a great job once again, Bea! Bravo!

  12. la pate à modemée play do elle avait une odeur qui me donnait envie de la manger;-) j’ai appris avec le temps que ce n’était pas ce qu’il y avait de meilleur.. surtout quand tu me rappelles avec toutes ces merveilles que ce que j’aime par dessus tout, ce sont les mignardises pour pouvoir tester chacune des associations, les unes après les autres, l’air de rien!

  13. I really, really love the photos here. And you are so creative on each different tartlet! *sigh* wish I could be there to eat them!

  14. Oh! I just love the story of B.’s wedding … I cannot believe you made almost 2,000 petit fours! If I ever get married I am hiring you!

    Your little sweet tarts are just so sweet and beautiful!

  15. Bea these are so beautiful – I love them.
    I am sure anyone who suggests you should go into business making such things doesn’t know that it can’t be too lucrative. I mean they take ages and ages to make and I believe they can only really be made well for love, not for money. And as you so deliciouly hinted – you must really love your brother. Lucky boy!

  16. Béa
    This is so nostalgic
    My mum used to make these all the time for her luncheons
    and Bridge nights.
    So very charming and sweet!
    [Smile]
    Very pretty and nicely done!

  17. Thanks to Slashfood, I’ve just discovered you. Oh My! I love French cuisine so you can bet I’ll be here every day.

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  19. Absolutely delicious.

    There’s certainly a truth to the old saying “less is more” – and these little bite size beauties leave you wanting more (which is a good thing).

  20. gosh bea, these look absolutely delightful!!! must give them a try some day. they look so dainty and cute!

  21. J’adore j’adore! J’adore l’association amande et citron, chocolat citron. Magnifique!
    J’ai aussi beaucoup aime l’histoire du maraige de ton frere. Ca ma rappeler celui du mien…!
    Bravo!

  22. Comme d’habitude non seulement c’est appétissant mais les photos sont vraiment dignes d’un livre !

  23. Très mignons tout cela. En fait on y passe un temps fou, à abaisser et surtout beurrer les petits moules et on mange cela en un clin d’oeil. Mais voilà c’est tellement bon !

    Je te pique au passage la recette de crème au citron vert ;)

  24. Hi Bea
    Oh, how gorgeous!! I wouldn’t know which one to pick if they were presented to me on a plate :o) But in the end I think one of the ones garnished with pomegranate would win… Your patience and attention to detail are amazing – and the photos are beautiful too. Merci beaucoup for a great SHF contribution!

  25. What a story! You are very brave to even consider doing it again – and so beautifully!

  26. Thank you all fo your comments. I feel overwhelmed and very touched! I would still debate whether I would do it again on such a large scale, like at my brother’s wedding, and as Sam mentioned, it is true that I am unsure whether I would envision doing this as a caterer. ;-) So much work, and eaten SO quickly! It should last at least for some time, like a good piece of chocolate you want to keep forever in your mouth.

    Merci a tous de vos supers commentaires. Je suis tres touchee! A savoir si j’aimerais faire cela tous les jours, pas sur! ;-) Ils partent bien trop vite!

  27. Absolutely gorgeous!!!!! Why can’t I reach through my computer screen and grab some of those beauties and gobble them down?? Sigh.

  28. Those look so delicious that I would really like to have a bite… at 10:53 on Monday morning…
    Ciao.

  29. despite being a novice to lemon curd, i would love to gobble up each and every one of your petits fours… they look absolutely amazing!

  30. Those look great! My favorite is the blueberry one with a smattering of chocolate over the top. I love your little rectangular tart pan as well.

  31. Hi Bea,

    Your blog is amazing and I love the photographs… what camera do you use ?

    Keep up the good work… it’s absolute eye candy !!

    Excellent !!

  32. So I am getting ready for my brother’s wedding and was thinking of doing little tarts, is that a bad idea? I know it will be a lot of work. Can you make the dough ahead of time?? Any tips or other menu suggestions?

  33. so cute! i love mini tarts. i tried your recipe for the lime filling, but i used lemon juice instead (i have a meyer lemon tree) and it was soooo delicious! incredibly simple too, ppl were very impressed :) i’ll have to try another one of your recipes, this one was fantastic

  34. I stumbled upon your blog and found your story to be sweet and funny. your little tarts are so yummy looking. I can’t wait to try it. Thank you for sharing your story and recipe!

    T

  35. I just tried these, it’s quite an effort, but definitely worth the while!!!!!!

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  37. I am making a similar tart using lemon curd and tartlet shells painted in chocolate. How far in advance can I make these? Will the chocolate coating guard the tartlet from becoming mushy for 1-2 days in advance?

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