Christmas Cheer, Pastry Style

This week I’m planning to make what may be the ultimate Pastry family Christmas treat: petits fours. I know what many of you are thinking: huh? What can I say? Ever since I was a tike, there has been a box of Nieman Marcus (alternately Marshall Field’s) petits fours under the Pastry tree. It’s a tradition that was started decades ago by Mr. & Mrs. Joe Pastry Sr., so who am I to argue? I’d be remiss if I didn’t carry it forward. So while the rest of the world may think “wedding” or “Easter” whenever they see a petit four, to me those little cakes will always be redolent of Burl Ives and luminaria.

The thing about petits fours is that as long as they’re smaller than 2″ x 2″ x 2″ and are covered in a fondant or chocolate glaze, there are no rules. They can be just about anything. Happily though, I recently found this recipe, which is a near perfect match for the traditional Pastry mini-cakes: vanilla with raspberry and marzipan (though they also throw a little cognac in, just for kicks). The recipe only gives instructions for white fondant-glazed petits fours, but since I remember that the Nieman’s variety pack was 50% chocolate-glazed, I’m going to do those too.

I’ve got a dump truck full of work to do this week — my annual Christmas crush — so I don’t exactly know how I’m going to get these done. But what is Christmas if not the time of miracles?

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