Turkish Delight Petit fours

This was my Valentine’s day over-the-top idea: a recipe involving Middle-Eastern aphrodisiacs such as pomegranate, rose water, and possibly some chocolate. Something adorable. My boyfriend, the supposed target audience for a Valentine is not a big dessert person. A glass of red wine, a piece of dark chocolate, a coffee (black), a boozy bread pudding. That’s it, that’s all I get to work with. Snore. Halfway through making this though, I maybe caught a glimpse of myself, a frantic 11 year-old with ADD in the body of a 20-something, drizzling pink chocolate on little cakes and talking to imaginary readers in my head. A celebration of romantic love for an adult partner? Eh, not so much. A celebration of childhood kitsch and an enthusiasm for the color pink I thought I suppressed more than a decade ago? Absolutely.

I used to love petit fours as a kid. My mom would buy them from a bakery and give them as an offering to the mother of my friends if a play-date took place on their turf. They were usually covered in pink or red fondant with little sugar-crafted flowers on top.  I love these more than cupcakes, and I honestly don’t know why they’re not a bigger selling baked item on the NYC food scene.

Turkish delight (lokum), those chewy middle-eastern treats I first heard about watching the Lion, the With and the Wardrobe…eh… not as good. They sound good, and look good too, kind of like frosty-white petit fours in a gilded box, conjured out of thin air by the White Whitch. The real life Turkish delight are basically gum-drops flavored with apricot, rose water or pomegranate, studded with pistachios or almonds and drenched in powdered sugar. I could take them or leave them.

My petit fours take the flavors and appearance of Turkish delight and merge them with the satisfying texture of little cakes. It’s almost Chinese or Japanese in a way–the idea of making a dish that literally mimics, not only the flavors, but the physical appearance its inspiration. I love the white chocolate pomegranate glaze on them, and the orange blossom ones are quite interesting as well.

Turkish Delight Petit fours

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons rose water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds (removed from pods)
  • Butter and flour for pan
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam

For the white chocolate pomegranate/orange blossom glaze:

  • 8 oz white chocolate, chopped/or chips
  • 3 teaspoons pomegranate molasses/or 1 teaspoon orange blossom extract
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • red food coloring/yellow
  • ground pistachios for garnish/powdered sugar optional

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl combine egg and sugar and beat for 5-10 minutes until frothy and pale yellow. Sift in flour and baking powder. Add milk, rose water and cardamom and melted butter. Combine, and bake in a parchment lined jelly roll or 10” by 15” baking pan for 20 minutes until lightly brown on top.

Wait till entirely cooled to assemble. Remove from parchment paper onto a cutting board. You may dust with powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Cut the cake into small squares. Turn each square on its side and slide in half, like making a ciabatta sandwich.

In a small saucepan, heat up apricot jam with a few teaspoons of water until runny. Spread the jam between each cake sandwich.

For the ganache: Heat up heavy cream in a sauce pan and remove from heat when it begins to froth. Add chocolate, butter and pomegranate molasses or orange blossom extract to flavor. Stir to combine, and melt the chocolate. When the ganache begins to thicken. Add 1 drop of red or yellow food coloring to achieve pink or peach color.

To decorate the cakes, take one in hand and carefully spoon ganache on top and spread with the back of a spoon to reach all the nooks and crannies. Note: this is a messy job. Place on a sheet of wax paper or drying rack to firm up. Top with ground or chopped pistachios or powdered sugar to achieve the look of Turkish delight.

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