When we moved into our house, there was a box labeled "muffin tins" that I gave Jeff a hard time about. He had done all the packing for our move, and while I appreciated everything he did, there were definitely things I would have done differently -- like not packing my iPod away. So when I saw the muffin tins box, I questioned whether an entire box was truly necessary for muffin tins. Well, apparently it was. I had an open-mouth-insert-foot moment when we opened the box and found two regular muffin tins, two mini muffin tins, a pumpkin cakelet pan, an acorn cakelet pan, mini Bundt pans, mini tube pans, a popover pan, and my petits fours pan. Who knew I had so many muffin tins? The crazy thing is that I use them all too. I love breaking out my petits fours pan in the spring. Something about the flower-shaped cakes it produces just seems perfect for this time of year.
I was reading Gesine Bullock-Prado's blog (she's a cookbook author, baker, and, yes, Sandra Bullock's sister) and saw that she shared some Easter recipes on Access Hollywood Live. When I watched the video, I knew I'd have to try the little cakes she called sandtortes. She decorated them with colored sugars, and they looked festive and spring-y. While she made hers with maple sugar, I went with vanilla sugar. And while she used a sweetheart rose pan, I went with my petits fours pan.
Spring Petits Fours
(adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado/Access Hollywood Live)
Makes about 40 small cakes
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup vanilla sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
Colored sanding sugars
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray Nordic Ware Platinum Collection Petits Fours Pan with nonstick baking spray.
In bowl of stand mixed fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 8 to 10 minutes.
Scrape down bowl and add egg yolks one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds and scraping down bowl after each addition.
Add vanilla. Mix until incorporated.
Transfer mixture to large bowl.
Sift cake flour onto large piece of parchment paper. Resift two more times, and leave flour on parchment.
In clean, dry mixer bowl using whisk attachment, whip egg whites and salt until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/2 cup sugar on high speed and whip until stiff, glossy peaks form. (My egg whites never really got stiff, even after about 15 minutes of whipping, so I just used them once they were thick and glossy. Next time I think I'd add the sugar a little later.)
Using large rubber spatula, fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture. (The batter doesn't seem like it's going to come together, but it does once the flour is added.)
Sift flour over batter and fold in.
Using small 2-teaspoon capacity scoop, scoop slightly heaping spoonful of batter into each petits fours cavity. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Turn out cakes onto cooling rack. Repeat with remaining batter.
Melt butter in small bowl.
Place sugars in small bowls (one color in each bowl).
Dip top of each cake in butter and then in sugar.
Set cakes on plate and serve. (Cakes can be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
These little cakes are dense, buttery, and fragrant with vanilla, not to mention perfect for celebrating the arrival of spring weather!
What are your favorite springtime treats?