Petit Fours are dainty French cakes perfect for serving at bridal showers, tea parties, or anytime! My carefully tested recipe is the BEST and easiest way to make these sweet treats at home. Recipe includes a how-to video!
Precise and Pretty Petit Fours, Made Easy
Petit Fours (translates to “little oven” in French) are quintessential tea party and bridal shower treats. While they have a reputation for being fussy and difficult, I’ve developed my recipe to be as simple as possible. We’ll use a sturdy, but soft, cream cheese version of my favorite pound cake (it’s actually a bit closer to my well-loved bundt cake) to create beautifully stacked, melt-in-your-mouth cakes filled and coated in an amazing, albeit non-traditional, icing you’ll love.
Typically, petit fours have a poured fondant or a white chocolate coating, but I found these to be either too sweet, too difficult to use, or simply not very tasty.
I instead dedicated quite a bit of time to developing my own solution and instead use what is essentially a melted buttercream frosting. It drapes the petit fours smoothly and evenly, dries firm, colors well, and, most importantly, tastes excellent! It took me many attempts to get it right, but I am so happy with the final result, and I know you will be too ❤
What You Need
I prefer to make two separate cakes not only because it produces perfectly level, thin cakes, because also because it gives us the options to make two flavors of petit fours! Today I’m making just one flavor.
Here’s an overview of what you need:
- Softened cream cheese. Adding this to our pound cake gives it a beautifully plush (but still sturdy!) and crumb. Please don’t use the tub-style cream cheese!
- Milk. I recommend whole milk, and it’s best if it’s room-temperature.
- Fillings. I used fresh lemon curd and homemade raspberry cake filling for fresh, summery petit fours; however, you can use just about any sturdy filling. You’ll need about two cups total (so if you’re going for two different flavors, one cup of each).
- Corn syrup. This is not the same as high fructose corn syrup. Adding this to our icing gives it a sleek, firm finish that you can easily pick up once cooled.
SAM’S TIP: The cakes will most likely still look very pale (see above) even once they’re finished baking. Don’t over-bake or the layers will be dry!
Remember, this is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why. For the full recipe please scroll down to the bottom of the post!
How to Make Petit Fours
- Bake the cakes as instructed, let them cool, and them cut into thirds.
- Working with the first cake, spread two of the slices with a thin layer of filling (or fillings!).
- Stack the layers and top with the final plain cake layer.
- Cut the cake into 1½” squares and place onto a wax paper-lined baking sheet
- Repeat with the other cake, then cover with plastic and freeze while you prepare the icing.
SAM’S TIP: Before cutting into the cakes, gently but firmly press your hands over the surface to squeeze out any extra filling so that your layers don’t slide! You can cut the petit fours into shapes with a large knife or with small cookie cutters. I used a 1 ½″ square cookie cutter for uniform cakes (see above).
- Combine the butter, heavy cream, and light corn syrup in a double boiler until melted.
- Stir in the vanilla, then gradually add the powdered sugar and stir until the frosting reaches the proper consistency.
- Coat the frozen cakes with icing and let them firm up before decorating with additional icing or enjoying.
SAM’S TIP: You can make this icing in the microwave or on a double boiler. I highly recommend a double boiler for best results; it keeps the icing fluid and allows you to easily adjust the consistency as needed. If you use the microwave, you will frequently have to reheat your icing to keep the proper consistency.
After the icing dries completely, you can decorate your petit fours using my royal icing recipe, as I did here. I modeled the decorations here after my funfetti cake and used several small open star tips to decorate. This is completely optional, but don’t they look pretty!?
Frequently Asked Questions
Petit fours should be stored in an airtight container. They will keep at room temperature for two days or refrigerated for up to a week. They may also be frozen for two to three months.
While I love the combination I’m using today, you can certainly get creative with your petit four fillings. Here are a few other great options:
Salted caramel sauce (cool before using!)
Chocolate ganache (cool to a thicker, spreadable consistency before using!)
Peanut butter frosting
Cream cheese frosting
Yes. I recommend a gel food coloring; a little goes a long way, and it doesn’t flavor the icing like many liquid dyes do.
While my recipe is more simple than most, I still recommend you watch the video in the recipe card before beginning.
Let’s bake together! I’ll be walking you through all the steps in my written recipe and video below! If you try this recipe, be sure to tag me on Instagram, and you can also find me on YouTube and Facebook
Petit Fours (easy step-by-step recipe!)
- 1 batch lemon curd (click the link for the recipe) or 1 cup of your preferred filling
- 1 batch raspberry cake filling (click the link for the recipe) or 1 cup of your preferred filling
- ⅔ cup unsalted butter softened (150g)
- 4 oz cream cheese softened (113g)
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar (300g)
- 4 large eggs room temperature preferred
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour (250g)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup whole milk (60ml)
PETIT FOUR ICING
- 15 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces (221g)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons heavy cream (22ml)
- 6 Tablespoons light corn syrup (88ml)
- ⅛ heaping teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 ¾ cup powdered sugar (600g)
- Gel food coloring optional, only if desired
- I strongly recommend you read through the post and watch the video before beginning. It will help you, especially when it comes to icing the petit fours as flawlessly as possible!
- If making fillings listed from scratch, prepare these in advance of beginning the recipe.
- Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and grease and flour or spray with baking spray two 10×15” jelly roll pans (if you only have one, you can bake one cake at a time, just let the pan cool completely before washing it and re-using).
- Combine butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until creamy, well-combined and lightened in color.
- Add eggs, one at a time, stirring wella after each addition (about 10 seconds on medium speed after each egg).
- Stir in vanilla extract. Mixture should be very smooth, light, and creamy when finished mixing. Be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl periodically to make sure all ingredients are well-combined.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
- With mixer on low-speed, alternate adding flour and milk to the butter mixture until ingredients are completely combined (scrape sides and bottom of the bowl as needed).
- Divide batter evenly into prepared jelly roll pans and spread so the layers are even and smooth. Transfer to 350F (175C) oven to bake for 12-13 minutes (if baking one layer at a time) or 15 minutes (if baking both at the same time) or until baked through and cake springs back when lightly touched. Cake may still appear very pale even when baked completely through, don’t over-bake or it will be dry.
- Allow cakes to cool completely then, working with one cake at a time, cut first cake into three even pieces, each just under 5” wide.
- Transfer each piece to a clean surface. Evenly spread lemon curd or filling of choice on one third and raspberry cake filling or filling of choice on another. Leave the last third plain, this will be your top layer,
- Stack the cake thirds with the plain layer on top and gently press down all over wit your palms to gently squeeze out any excess filling. Using a 1 ½” round or square cookie cutter (or use a sharp knife to cut into even 1 ½” squares) firmly press down to cut out square and transfer to a wax paper lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have cut out as many cakes as possible. Set aside and repeat with remaining cake.
- Cover petit four cakes with plastic wrap and place in the freezer while you prepare icing.
- Heat about 2-3” of water over medium-low heat in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a medium or large heat-proof bowl that fits snuggly over your saucepan without touching the water, combine butter, heavy cream and light corn syrup. Stir frequently over simmering water until melted.
- Add vanilla extract and gradually add sugar until combined and mixture is smooth. Test the consistency of the icing by lifting your spoon out of it. If it drizzles smoothly back into the bowl and holds its shape for a second before dissolving into the bowl of icing, it’s perfect. If it’s too stiff, add a splash more cream as needed. Stir in any food coloring here, if desired.
- Remove petit fours from the freezer and place on on a large fork over the bowl of icing (so that any drips fall back in the bowl to be re-used). Using a spoon, spoon icing over the petit four until it is completely covered. Use your first petit four as a gauge for testing how smoothly the icing covers and adjust as needed. Return cakes to the baking sheet, and repeat with remaining cakes until all are covered.
- Allow to cool completely for icing to harden before enjoying (this can be done at room temperature or in the refrigerator). If desired, after cooling completely decorate with royal icing.
Video NoteAfter making the recipe as shown in the video a few times I decided to scale up the frosting by 50%. The recipe written here is the same as shown, just scaled up to give you more to play with.
StoringPetit Fours will keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days, refrigerated for up to a week, or frozen for 2-3 months.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered an estimate only. Actual nutritional content will vary based upon brands used, measuring methods, cooking method, portion sizes, and more.
So happy with how my petit fours turned out! Was very intimidated with the process before finding this recipe, but the step by step guide was so helpful! They turned out so darling and delicious. Brilliant recipe, as ever!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so happy our recipe was helpful for you, Erica! Thanks for commenting 🥰
Thank you, thank you, thank you! This icing recipe is so easy and makes the process go by so much faster. I have always hated doing petit fours with poured fondant because the icing was so picky. This is not only simple do to do, but also tastes great! I added a little white food coloring to make white ones and they were perfect.
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
We’re so glad our recipe worked out for you, Shelly! The icing really is so easy and quick ☺️
thanks for the great recipe! i made them today and they look just like your photos and taste amazing! I’ll be making these again!
Emily @ Sugar Spun Run
So glad they turned out nicely for you, Terri! Thanks for the review ❤️
Have you tried to make this recipe using a gluten free flour? If so, can you recommend a brand that you tried? Thanks!
Hi Dorothy! Unfortunately I am not familiar with using gluten free flours. 🙁
I used Bob Red Mill 1 to 1 and used 1/2 cup of milk instead of a 1/4. They turned out great! Hope this helps!
How many petit squares does this make
Hi Maria! You should have about 32 when you are done. 🙂
Have you tried increasing the batter to 1.5 and spreading it to three jelly roll pans and then stacking those three layers? Or would I need to double the batter? Also, when you say freeze, I’m looking at making these for a church event in a few weeks. Could you bake, assemble, and cut the cakes a week or two before and then just leave them in the freezer until maybe the day before and frost them then? I’m thinking of strawberry jam and nutella filling!
Hi Kathy! You could increase the recipe by 50% to get the third pan. I think assembling and freezing the cakes would work just fine as well. 🙂
I am going to attempt to make these but the person who wants them doesn’t want the filling. How would you make them without any filling or can you do that?
Hi Rachel! You can make the cake without filling. You may want something like a frosting between layers to hold them together. 🙂
Could you use jam instead of using the ones you have listed?
Cake recipe is great. The melted buttercream recipe should be doubled! I struggled with enough frosting and it was way too thick! I tried to thin it with more cream, but the cream was cold so the frosting kept getting thicker and thicker! Finally microwaved the frosting to get it thin again to flow, but wasn’t not nearly enough frosting.
That would be quite a lot of buttercream and I actually originally used 50% less frosting than listed and still was able to cover all my petit fours, but IMO you really can’t have too much frosting 😉 I am sorry to hear it was a struggle, though, Loreta!
Could these be made in a mini muffin tin instead? Not crazy about having filling in them.
I think that would work! 🙂
I have a request for banana petite fours, some with chocolate frost and some with strawberry. How do you make your buttercream into chocolate?
Hi Vicky! I haven’t personally tried it, but probably just use 4 cups of powdered sugar and 1/2 of cocoa powder and adjust for taste from there. You may need a little bit more heavy cream as well. 🙂