Wedding Fruitcake Petits Fours

Chocolate recipes, english desserts, british desserts, desserts, cake recipes, petits fours recipes, fruit recipes, dried fruit recipes, currant recipes, lemon recipes, brandy recipes, orange recipes, citrus recipes, cardamom recipes, spice recipes, nutmeg recipes, brown sugar recipes, almond paste



  • 2 cups assorted minced dried fruits (such as pears, apricots, and cherries; about 12 oz. total)
  • 1/4 cup minced whole lemon (seeds discarded, peel and pith included)
  • 1/4 cup minced whole orange (seeds discarded, peel and pith included)
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped lightly toasted walnuts

White chocolate ganache glaze

  • 1 1/2 lb. white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

Recipe Preparation


  • Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and let macerate overnight at room temperature, stirring occasionally.

  • Preheat oven to 325°. Butter a large rimmed baking sheet (about 18x13x1"); line with parchment paper. Whisk flour, salt, cardamom, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat both sugars and almond paste on low speed in a large bowl until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add butter; beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat to blend. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, beating just to blend each batch. Add walnuts and dried fruit mixture with soaking liquid; stir batter just to blend.

  • Spread batter evenly in prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

  • Set a wire rack in a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Invert cake onto a work surface; peel off parchment paper. Trim 1/2" from all 4 sides. Cut cake into 1 1/2" squares. Place squares on wire rack.

White chocolate ganache glaze

  • Place chopped white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Stir cream and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat until mixture begins to simmer. Pour over white chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes, then stir until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly, stirring occasionally, until glaze is slightly thickened but still pourable.

  • Spoon glaze evenly over cakes to coat tops and sides. Refrigerate cakes on rack until glaze is set, about 30 minutes. Spoon a second layer of glaze over cakes. Refrigerate for another for 30 minutes.

  • Decorate petits fours. Transfer to platter

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test KitchenReviews Section

Fruit cake recipes

Packed with plump, juicy fruit with a warming hint of spice, fruit cakes are one of the most comforting varieties of cake. While they make a special appearance in many households over Easter and Christmas the fruit cake should be considered a perennial treat – they are, after all, made up predominantly of store cupboard staples and therefore perfect to put together in an emergency.

Browse our collection of fruit cake recipes for advice on achieving the perfect balance of soft sponge and rich flavour. Karen Burns Booth's Christmas cake recipe is steeped in brandy to add festive flavour, while her Gluten-free Christmas cake is a fantastic option if you're catering for guests with food intolerance. Sally Abé's Simnel cake is a slightly lighter treat for Easter, or try Paul A Young's Chocolate, ginger and cardamom tea bread for a flavour-packed treat for afternoon tea.

HOW TO BAKE A CAKE: Try one of these recipes below

Pumpkin Cake Recipe with butter cream frosting.

Fruitcake Recipes my traditional fruit and nut recipe, cranberry, banana Bundt, Christmas fruit cake or a no bake recipe.

How to bake a cake with the citrus flavor of key limes. Make a key lime layer cake, a key lime coconut cream cake or a key lime sponge cake all are delicious!

Make moist and delicious yogurt cakes like the Greek Yaourtopita, a Lemon cake with citrus frosting,a Blueberry,a Dried Cherry, and a Honey cake. 

Sponge Cake Recipe, Southern sponge cake, old fashioned recipe or a chiffon cake recipe.

Pumpkin Cake in a roll, a doughnut recipe, pumpkin gingerbread with caramel sauce, apple or a pound cake recipe.

Surprise Cupcakes made with a caramel cake recipe and brown sugar frosting and a chocolate recipe with cherry surprise.

Cake Baking Tips makes the job easier with better results.

History of Pound Cake with the best pound cake recipe and a chocolate recipe.

Learn how to make delicious pound cake. Make a southern pound cake, a sweet potato pound cake with marshmallow frosting, a chocolate raspberry pound cake, a banana pound cake, brown sugar rum pound cake with a rum sauce, an orange pounds cake, a coconut pound cake, a blueberry pound cake, a cinnamon chocolate pound cake and a peanut butter pound cake.

How to Make a Sponge Cake to achieve light airy texture recipe for hot milk cake with caramel topping, easy sponge cake with black walnut filling and a sponge cake dessert.

Cake Mix Recipesਏor gooey bars, chocolate praline layer cake, chocolate coconut dessert cake, butterscotch cake, chocolate cookies or turtle cake recipe.

How to Make a Cake with tips and problem solutions recipes for raw apple cake.

Bourbon Cake Recipe history of the Kentucky Derby Cake with bourbon syrup.

How to Make Cupcakes recipes for spice, strawberry shortcake, carrot or chocolate macaroon.

Cake Filling Recipesਏor chocolate, cream filling, lemon, nut, pineapple and orange filling.

Best Cake Recipes for coconut with lemon filling and boiled frosting, sweet potato cake, hummingbird cake, and selection of frostings.

Goodꃊke Recipes like prune with buttermilk topping, delicious white cake and a black walnut cake made with a box cake mix.

How to Frost a Cake with VIDEO recipes for broiled frosting, butter cream frosting and a cake glaze.

How to make easy cake recipes like monkey cake with dates and banana cream coconut topping, Lemon pound, pineapple with cream cheese topping, pineapple sweet potato, prune and apple stack cake.

Homemade Cake Recipes like spice with brown sugar topping, banana and a simple basic cake.

Carrot Cake Recipes with VIDEO one with candied fruit, with crushed pineapple and one with orange.

Date Cake Recipe with cranberries and Potica cake made with yeast and date filling.

Orange Slice Cake Recipe with orange juice topping or a chocolate one made with box of Swiss chocolate cake mix.

Black Cake Recipe, also called Jamaican cake or wine cake, with icing or a fondant.

Learn how to make fabulous Christmas fruitcake recipes like an Asian fruitcake, farm fruitcake, no bake fruitcake and many more. 

Delicious moist Sausage Cake with fruits and nuts.

A selection of਋lack Walnut Cake Recipes with various frostings cream cheese, sour cream and caramel frostings.

Fresh Coconut Cake Recipe how to crack the coconut to make cake with sauce and frosting, a coconut pineapple cake and a coconut spice cake.

Three Vanilla Cupcakes with butter cream frosting or banana frosting and vanilla mini cheesecakes.

Upside Down Cake Recipes They are usually lined with fruit like peaches, pears, apples, cherries and probably the most popular is pineapple upside down cake.

Bundt Cake Recipes includes a video for making the Tunnel of Fudge Cake

Cake Roll Recipes includes a video for a Orange Sponge Cake roll

Learn how to bake aꃊke from scratch like my favorite white cake which can be decorated for any special occasion. 

Learn how to bake a cake with a very flavorful Orange Cake Recipe!

Learn how to make an Old Fashioned Angel Food Cake. Make a spiced, chocolate, marble or maraschino cherry Angel Food. 

Learn how to make delicious plum cakes.

Make delicious and rich chocolate cakes. Learn how to bake a cake like a moist Red Devils Food Cake, a rich Mississippi Mud Cake, a Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, an elegant Chocolate Mint Cake Roll, ਊ decadent Almond Joy Cake, or a cute Chocolate Pumpkin Cake.

Get creative with your party cake ideas! This cake was made for my friends twin girls who play softball. 

Learn how to make a traditional, original, orange flavor or chocolate Boston Cream Pie!

Learn how to make dark chocolate cake recipes. Make a cake with raspberries, one with sour cream, a deep dark chocolate, or a dark chocolate cake with fluffy peppermint frosting!

Use your creativity to make great cakes for kids parties. use simple pans and colorful frosting!

Learn how to make poppy seed cake recipes: my sister Gloria's, a fruit cake, with a box cake, a chocolate, a Bundt, one with almond filling or one with almonds and fresh grapes.

Learn how to make easy birthday cakes for kids. Make a simple lollipop cake, choo choo train, Disney princess cake or a polka dot cake. 

Make fun kid's chocolate cakes. Make a creepy crawler cake, a worm, snake, dinosaur, a wagon train or a train. 

Learn how to make an apple stack cake recipe. There are many variations to this recipe. You will find recipes from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, the Appalachian mountains and all the the way back to Europe. 

Make delicious torte recipes! These recipes include: pineapple and cream cake torte, Warsaw party torte, German Black Forest torte, dark chocolate sachertorte recipe, pumpkin spice cream torte and Linzertorte recipe. 

Bake scrumptious nut cake recipes like the following: Greek chocolate cake recipe, toasted butter pecan cake,  bourbon nut cake, mixed nut torte, Brazil nut fruitcake, old fashioned pecan cake, walnut cake, and a hazelnut torte cake recipe!   

Prepare tasty petit fours recipes! This page contains vanilla petits fours, brownie petit fours, white party cakes, petit fours recipe for the holidays, nutty petits fours, chocolate almond petit fours and mini chocolate chip petits fours.

Make fabulous cake square recipes like the following: French pastry cake, brownie cake squares,  honey apple cake recipe, Mississippi mud cake,  cranberry nut cake, apple caramel squares, pineapple sheet cake, Italian cream refrigerator cake, chocolate marble cake and maple walnut cake squares.

Make the best pear cake recipes like the following: Finnish pear pan cake, fresh pear bundt cake, pear cranberry gingerbread cake, praline pear cake, ginger pear upside down cake recipe, pear cake with chocolate, almond pear torte, old fashioned pear cake and a low fat pear carrot cake.   

Learn how to make yellow cakes with these fabulous recipes: two layer basic yellow cake with caramel frosting, three layer yellow cake recipe, caramel yellow cake recipe, yellow cake with banana nut frosting, basic 2 egg yellow cake with maple pecan frosting,  yellow pound cake, easy yellow cheese cake and caramel topped yellow cake.

The Presidential Sweet Tooth

Ice cream remained a popular White House treat, especially during the summer months. Here, President Calvin Coolidge and First Lady Grace Coolidge eat ice cream at a White House garden party for veterans in 1924.

Library of Congress, Underwood & Underwood Collection

As the holidays approach, thoughts inevitably turn to sugar plums, gingerbread, and all of the other delectable treats that season brings with it. Sweets signal the changing of seasons and the arrival of holidays, from cookies at Christmas to popsicles in the heat of summer. The same is true at the White House, where presidents and their families have enjoyed spectacular sweets on many occasions.

Until the establishment of the permanent position of White House Executive Pastry Chef in 1979, White House sweets came from a variety of sources. Chefs and cooks played an important part in preparing desserts for White House dinners and receptions, but presidents also turned to outside help for more elaborate confections and pastries. James Buchanan, a bachelor president, entertained with zeal. He hired Charles Gautier, a French caterer and chocolatier, to prepare his 1857 inaugural banquet, and later turned to local caterer Madame Demonet & Sons for his sweets and pastry needs. The Demonet family often catered White House events into the 20th century. “Whenever it is desired to make a good impression upon some foreign potentate or distinguished citizen at the White House,” the Washington Post reported in 1893, Demonet was the firm for the job. 1

While the source of White House sweets has changed over time, the presence of delightful confections has remained constant from the earliest days of White House history. President Thomas Jefferson served ice cream, one of his favorite desserts, at a White House Independence Day celebration in 1806. His household administrator, Etienne Lemaire, hired an extra servant to turn the ice cream maker’s crank for the occasion. Ice cream appeared on many of Jefferson’s menus, often served, as one of his guests remarked, “in covers of warm pastry… as if the ice had just been taken from the oven.” In fact, President Jefferson enjoyed ice cream so much that he had an ice house excavated on the White House Grounds, in part to ensure that the chilled treat could be made during the summer months. 2

Californian Bill Baker continued to send President Franklin D. Roosevelt Christmas fruit cakes throughout his presidency. The White House received this elaborately decorated cake from Baker in 1939. Brig. Gen. Edwin Watson, a Presidential Secretary accepting the cake from Miss Mildred Cook, Secretary to Rep. A.J. Elliott of California.

Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection

Christmas called for seasonal sweets, and for many years fruitcake and plum pudding were popular White House holiday desserts. Just after the 1912 election, longtime family friend Mrs. John Dodds of Cedartown, Georgia, wrote to future First Lady Ellen Wilson to request the honor of baking the Wilsons’ first White House Christmas cake. Mrs. Dodds made a large, rich fruitcake from a “very rare and much sought after recipe.” 3

President Franklin D. Roosevelt enjoyed fruitcake year round and especially on Christmas, and Henrietta Nesbitt, his White House cook, later recalled “December found me up to my ears in fruitcake.” 4 She had some help, however, from Californian Bill Baker, who in 1933 sent an elaborate, 110-pound fruitcake to President Roosevelt in time for Christmas. The cake featured sugar decorations representing California missions complete with “sugar palm trees, sugar flowers and sugar mountains.” 5 The tradition carried on through the 1960s and 1970s, when Pastry Chef Heinz Bender prepared as many as 180 fruitcakes per year for White House holiday parties. 6

White House birthdays and weddings produced their share of delicious and creative sweets. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower had a well-known fondness for the birthday cakes that White House Chef Francois Rysavy prepared specially for her. Rysavy’s rich white cake was flavored with orange liqueur and decorated with pink almond paste flowers, which Rysavy dubbed “Mamie Carnations.” In 1955 the first lady personally wrote to the chef to thank him for the cake, noting that all of her guests “raved over the artistry which you showed in decorating it.” And, she added, “the cake was just as delicious as it looked!” 7

President Lyndon B. Johnson looks on as his daughter Luci and her new husband, Patrick Nugent, cut their wedding cake in the White House East Room.

White House Historical Association

Lady Bird Johnson, a well known conservationist, also chose a flower-themed dessert for her daughters’ engagement parties. White House Executive Chef Henry Haller’s “flowerpot sundaes” were served in clay flowerpots, and featured layers of sponge cake, ice cream, and meringue, topped with a fresh flower. 8 Fresh lilies also crowned Luci Johnson’s immense wedding cake, a multi-tier masterpiece adorned with crystalline flowers, archways, and swans served at her White House reception on August 6, 1966. 9

Sweets and pastries not only have been important to celebrating personal events, but also inauguration receptions and state dinners. At President Andrew Jackson’s infamous 1829 inaugural reception, rowdy guests feasted on ice cream and cake, broke dishes and glasses, and wreaked havoc on the White House in the process. President Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration ball was a subdued affair, but his second, which took place at the Patent Office, was also the scene of a “terrific crush,” as a large throng of guests demolished the elegant buffet. They had much to choose from – the feast included ornamental pyramids of nougat and caramel, macaroons, almond sponge cake, tarts and pastries, and ice cream in “vanilla, lemon, white coffee, chocolate, burnt almonds, and maraschino” flavors, among other treats. 10

Staff work in the White House Family Dining Room to prepare Christmas Yule Log cakes during the visit of West German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard in December 1965.

White House Historical Association

Not all inaugural receptions would be so elaborate, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 1945 inauguration took place in the midst of World War II and adhered to wartime butter and sugar rations. White House cook Henrietta Nesbitt consequently served—perhaps to the dismay of President Roosevelt’s guests—practical, unfrosted cakes. 11

State dinners honoring a foreign head of state became a White House tradition after President Ulysses S. Grant hosted a lavish dinner for King David Kalakaua of the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) in 1874. However, the state dinner took on a special elegance and importance to White House entertaining during the John F. Kennedy administration. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy preferred to serve sophisticated French cuisine, including such desserts as petits fours, chocolate mousse, crème brulée, bombe glacée, and Saint-Honoré cake, which have a cream puff base and velvety cream filling. 12

In more recent years, state dinners have often highlighted the cuisine and culture of the visiting guest of honor. Roland Mesnier, who served as the White House Executive Pastry Chef from 1979 to 2004, created unique desserts for each state dinner of his career. For the 1980 dinner honoring Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel he consulted a rabbi before preparing a kosher orange sorbet cake topped with dairy-free whipped cream. And when President Miguel de la Madrid of Mexico visited in 1984, he crafted cactuses out of kiwi sorbet, filled them with tequila-flavored mousse, and decorated them with pulled-sugar flowers and spines for a delectable desert-themed dessert. 13

Assistant Chef Frank Ruta inspects the cactus shaped sorbet dessert that Chef Roland Mesnier concocted for the 1984 visit of President Miguel de la Madrid and Mrs. Paloma Cordero De La Madrid of Mexico.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library

White House holidays and celebrations have been accompanied by fantastic sweets and pastries, but presidents do not always need an excuse to indulge in their favorite desserts. President Zachary Taylor, who spent time in Louisiana before his presidency, had a taste for Creole cooking. He introduced the Creole Calas-Tous-Chauds cake, fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar, to the White House. President Theodore Roosevelt also had an impressive appetite and a weakness for sweets. Among his favorites were Sagamore Hill Sand Tarts, named for his Oyster Bay, New York, estate. 14 President Ronald Reagan preferred a simpler treat: jelly beans. The Herman Goelitz Candy Company, makers of Jelly Belly, furnished the White House with jelly beans throughout Reagan’s presidency, especially his favorite flavor: licorice. 15 Thus, whether they preferred jelly beans or Creole delicacies, fruitcake or chocolate mousse, presidents have had no shortage of ways to satisfy a sweet tooth.

President Ronald Reagan digs into a jar of his favorite jelly beans during a meeting in the White House Cabinet Room in 1981.

Eric Lanlard: Fabulous baker boy

Eric Lanlard is a man with a message: always use the best ingredients. 'People are so strange,’ the French master patissier says. 'They spend hours making a celebration cake but spoil it with the worst chocolate.’ We are sitting in Lanlard’s cake emporium and cafe in Battersea, south London. On the counters violently coloured cupcakes vie for attention with delicate traditional tarts, intricate petits fours and creamy cheesecakes. Cake Boy, which Lanlard opened in 2007, produces 1,500 small cakes a day, many destined for his other London shop, Cox, Cookies and Cake, a collaboration with the shoe designer Patrick Cox.

I am here to talk about celebration cakes, and it seems Lanlard, 42, who produces 20 bespoke cakes a month, is not impressed with British traditions. When he first set up in business in 1995, 'People were coming to me and saying, “Please can you make my wedding cake as usually they taste horrible.” People don’t want fruitcake – it’s because there are so many bad ones around, but a good fruitcake is brilliant.’

Plain white iced cakes are still in demand, as are tiered stands of cupcakes, which became popular in the mid-2000s. Mention of these prompts eye-rolling from Lanlard he feels they lack visual excitement – unlike, for example, his signature creation, the tower of desserts.

'I do a selection of eight, things like cheesecake, chocolate mousses,’ he says. 'We use a chocolate-covered stand, too. It smells amazing – and it’s a great conversation-starter.’

As a 10-year-old in rural Brittany Lanlard had already earmarked the patisserie where he wanted to train ('It was the only one where they made their own chocolate’). After a two-year apprenticeship, he did national service on board the flagship of the French navy as the captain’s pastry chef, before joining the Roux brothers in London as a pastry chef in 1989 (though he was soon made head chef).

'The standard of patisserie in Britain was appalling,’ Lanlard says. 'Even for the Roux brothers it was so old-fashioned. They hate me saying that but it was true. I thought, let’s change the whole thing.’

And change it he did. His attention to detail and dedication had already won him fans in the industry, and it wasn’t long before his work caught the eye of the celebrity world. He is still best known for making Madonna’s wedding cake – a traditional French croquembouche, a tower of caramel-coated profiteroles – and the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s 101st birthday cake, complete with sugarcraft corgis.

Despite the glorious confections on sale at Cake Boy, Lanlard is keen to encourage amateurs to learn the art of sugarcraft, and even attempt their own wedding cake (the average price for one of Lanlard’s is more than £1,000). 'People now are serving the cake as a dessert,’ he says, 'not as an extra at midnight when everyone’s drunk, so it really has to taste good.’ Lanlard’s forthcoming Channel 4 series, Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard, focuses on home baking, while his book Master Cakes is designed to inspire the budding cake designer.

A word of warning though, the recipes in Master Cakes are not for beginners. Take the Toile de Jouy tiered extravaganza pictured here. A steady hand and a good smattering of artistic talent would be needed to pull off the intricate pastoral scenes drawn on the icing (tracing paper and pins help, but still…). Slightly easier are the Lavender Fields mini cakes, though they still require patience.

So as a man with his finger on the pulse of cakecraft, does Lanlard have any inside knowledge about the Middleton-Windsor celebration? His eyes twinkle. 'I think they will go for something classic, not frilly,’ he says. 'Something plain white.’

And who might be making it for them?

'Ahhh, everyone is asking me. Let us say I am still waiting for the phone call,’ he says, smiling.

What's the Difference: Sponge Cake, Pound Cake, Gateau, Genoise

There might be more kinds of cakes in the world than you could sample in a lifetime, but according to Joy of Baking, most of them fall into two categories: foam and butter. Foam cakes are comprised of flour, sugar, eggs, butter (in some cases) and flavoring. They get their light, fluffy texture from air beaten into egg whites, and, as a bonus, they're not as unhealthy as other types of cake. Some are completely fat free, but those containing whole egg (like sponge cake) or butter (like génoise and gâteau) have a slight amount of fat. (If a cake is air-leavened, it isn't considered butter cake even if it contains butter.)

Butter cakes, such as pound cake, depend on a chemical leavening product such as baking soda or baking powder. Of course, butter cakes tend to contain significant quantities of butter (or margarine or shortening), which adds firmness and heft. Otherwise, the ingredient list is similar to foam cakes: flour, sugar, butter and flavoring.

Though it seems like our four subjects are quite similar, we'll discuss their respective (and delicious) roles in pastry baking.

Cakes for All Occasions

Whatever your needs we will do our very best to make your occasion one to remember. We do all types of fun cakes from kids 1st birthday parties to graduation cakes. Every cake is made with passion and love to create that special moment that becomes a part of your family’s history. Have an idea or picture you would like us to make for you? Have an idea or picture you would like us to make for you? Send it to [email protected] to start the conversation to get your cake made.

Choose Your Favorite Cake

Almond White Wedding, Chocolate Crème, Lemon Crème with lemon curd filling, Red Velvet, Coconut Crème, Strawberry Crème, Snickers, Peanut Butter cup, Peanut butter ganache, Marble, Carrot w/caramel pecan filling and cream cheese frosting, Oreo Cookies and Crème, Pink Champagne with White Chocolate Champagne Frosting and raspberry filling, Banana Caramelicious, Strawberry Snow White, German Chocolate.

Choose Your Favorite Frosting

White Buttercream, White Chocolate Buttercream (no almond), Chocolate Buttercream, Chocolate Ganache, Strawberry Buttercream, Cream Cheese Frosting, Fresh Whip Cream Frosting (Seasonal).

ALMOND JOY Malleable marzipan provides many sweet treats as holidays roll around

Back in my college days, a final exam-addled dorm mate conducted a poll just before the holidays. The choices were "love fruitcake" and "hate fruitcake." Responses on both sides of the issue were staggeringly vehement, and if I remember correctly, far more than half of those polled seemed unequivocally opposed, although I can't promise there wasn't a little ballot stuffing.

We could take the same poll with marzipan. But with this almond-paste confection, in addition to "love it" and "hate it," we'd have to add the third category of "never heard of it." For the uninitiated: If you've ever seen a candy dish filled with tiny fruits that look like they're made out of Play-Doh, or wondered about an ultra-thin, ultra-smooth layer of icing on a wedding cake, odds are, you've been in the presence of marzipan.

During the holiday season, marzipan pops up in a number of guises. Chocolates are filled with it. Pink marzipan pigs are said to bring good luck at New Year's. Yule logs are garnished with tiny marzipan berries and leaves. I've even seen sweet creche scenes with solemn little marzipan wise men lined up at the manger. Store-bought marzipan fruits make a festive stocking stuffer or hostess gift, and kids love to hand-sculpt marzipan figures as a special gift or holiday centerpiece.

In the German method for making almond paste, blanched, skinned almonds and granulated sugar are ground through marble rollers, cooked, stirred, cooled, and then a sugar syrup is added. The French start with ground almonds, to which they add a cooked sugar syrup. To this point, the product in both methods is still called almond paste. Confectioners' sugar is added -- as is egg white in some recipes -- and it is ground further to make it officially marzipan. Depending on the final product's intended use (filling, rolling or modeling), the amount of confectioners' sugar is adjusted to create a dough of the proper stiffness. For the product to be genuine marzipan, the sugar content cannot exceed 68 percent.

While Americans are still growing accustomed to marzipan, Europeans have loved the stuff for centuries. The latter have created sundry conflicting stories of its origins.

One German tale of 1407, as told by Albert Kirchmayr of Kirchmayr Chocolatier, locates it in famine-wracked Lubeck. Hungry townspeople feared locally stationed troops would gobble up what little food remained. In desperation, the magistrate authorized a search of ships and ships' warehouses. A forgotten larder housed an extravagant stash of almonds and honey and an enterprising baker promised he could fashion a suitable baked good to feed the masses. True to his word, the troops were fed, the war was won, and everyone had fond memories of the almond delight.

Fast forward to 1806 in Lubeck, when entrepreneur Hans Niederegger, capitalizing on the locals' collective fondness for almond sweets, began churning out almond rolls. To this day, Lubeck is the marzipan capital of Germany, and the Niederegger name remains, by Albert Kirchmayr's account, "the Hershey of marzipan."

Not to be outdone, the French claim marzipan for their own. The Ursuline order of nuns at Issoudun is said to have perfected the recipe during the chaos of the French Revolution. The novelist Balzac then popularized the sweet in Paris, opening a confectionery shop that specialized in the "massepains," or marzipan candy, he had raved about in his book, "La Rabouilleuse."

We could go on: Another story has its beginnings in Sicily, and still another pegs marzipan as a longtime product of the Middle East, dating back to the Saracen people during the Crusades. Whatever its true provenance may be, marzipan today is made expertly all over Europe and by specialized bakers in this country. The home cook can even make it with relative ease with just a little practice.

Both Albert Kirchmayr and another local sweet virtuoso, Joseph Poupon of Patisserie Poupon, wax enthusiastic about the high-quality, store-bought almond paste and marzipan. Both men relate stories from the culinary dark ages, when the making of almond paste was laborious and inexact. Painstaking efforts with marble rollers or even a mortar and pestle yielded a finished product that might crystallize inappropriately, be too stiff, or fall apart. So, you may want to begin working with store-bought almond paste or marzipan.

Odense makes both in 7-ounce logs, available in the grocery section of many local grocery stores, such as Fresh Fields and Sutton Place Gourmet. For the holidays, Sutton Place also carries big blocks of almond paste that can be cut to the desired weight. Both products will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator if well wrapped. Buy almond paste if you wish to add flavorings or use it as an ingredient in a pastry buy marzipan if you wish to model with it.

The purist may want to disregard the experts' warnings, and try his hand at making almond paste from scratch. Here's how: Grind 8 ounces of blanched, skinned almonds in a food processor. To that, with the motor running, slowly add 1 pound of sugar cooked to the "soft crack" stage (270 to 290 degrees Fahrenheit). Scoop out the resulting dough and spread it thinly on a baking sheet to speed cooling. To this, you may add more sugar syrup or egg white to make it more pliable, or confectioners' sugar to make it stiffer.

Whether you make marzipan or buy it, it's fun to get the whole family involved in modeling marzipan shapes. Make sure all hands and surfaces are clean and dry, and go to work. Marble and stainless steel are the easiest surfaces to work on.

For fruit shapes, begin by dividing the dough into equal small portions. You may want to set out real fruit to use as models. Roll a piece of dough in the hands to create a sphere (in the case of bananas, make a snake), then start modeling the dough with your fingers or with a small paring knife. Use the back of the knife to create the indent on the side of peaches use a toothpick to texture the surface of strawberries roll lemons and oranges on a cheese grater to texture the skin.

New Year's pigs can be fashioned the same way, creating little balls for the head, feet and even suckling piglets. Marzipan roses are a classic cake decoration, achieved by flattening out numerous petals and attaching them at the base.

Coloring can be achieved in two ways: You can simply knead in food coloring to the dough before modeling, or you can hand-tint the surface of the dried, finished shapes with a paintbrush.

Here are a few other tips for working with marzipan:

* Don't use aluminum mixing bowls to blend almond paste or marzipan -- they will discolor the dough.

* When working the dough, keep the unused portion in a bowl covered with a damp cloth.

* Keep a shaker of confectioners' sugar nearby to prevent sticking of dough, which is caused by oil being released as marzipan is kneaded.

* For modeling, add corn syrup to make the dough more pliable. This is Joseph Poupon's recommendation.

* If dough is too stiff, knead in more sugar syrup or very briefly microwave the dough.

* For cakes and petits fours, roll out marzipan slowly, sprinkling with confectioners' sugar. Drape the thin layer over the back of the rolling pin and, starting at the center of the cake, pull the marzipan over the top.

* Knead in flavorings such as Grand Marnier or kirsch and colorings such as cocoa, coffee extract or food colorings, if they are desired.

For those who are happy if they can find just enough time to wrap their holidays gifts, finished marzipan candies and pastries are available all over Baltimore.

Sutton Place Gourmet's top seller is a traditional German marzipan good-luck pig. The store also sells Swiss Olo-brand marzipan fruits and vegetables (strawberries, lemons, even turnips and radishes) and Bombasei-brand clusters of grapes and plaques for cakes. Sutton Place's candy buyer, Jennifer Wellott, suggests using all of the fruits and vegetables to decorate cakes or just as an after-dinner sweet, and she cautions, "Don't put them in the refrigerator -- they get too wet." The store carries one more decadent marzipan creation: A Neuhaus chocolate called Troika pairs marzipan with hazelnut flavoring.

Kirchmayr Chocolatier offers cherry-flavored, dark chocolate-covered marzipan squares.

All year-round Patisserie Poupon covers many birthday cakes and wedding cakes with a layer of marzipan before royal icing (a hard icing made with icing sugar and egg whites) is piped on. During the holidays, the bakery carries yule logs decorated with marzipan mushrooms, holly leaves and berries. One of the bakery's most festive creations is a yellow genoise cake, layered with strawberry filling and pastry cream and covered with a layer of white marzipan.

Did you know? The price of a Fortnum’s hamper is always less than the cost of buying its contents and Wicker individually.

Anniversaries come in many forms and milestones, and this hamper is filled with celebratory favourites for any occasion.

We start with bubbles, our Brut Réserve Billecart Salmon, because what is a celebration without the sound of a popping cork? If you’re looking for a relaxing sipper, enjoy our Celebration Tea Blend and Ceylon Orange Pekoe tea. Both perfectly paired with our traditional Fortnum's Fruitcake.

Dunkers include Cherrilossus Biscuits, reminiscent of black forest gâteaux and our buttery Piccadilly Macadamia Nut Biscuits. For something more intense, our juicy and fiery Ginger Preserve is divine with some sliced rye bread.

Other sweetness comes in the form of our decadent Dark Chocolate Florentines, packed with fruit and nuts. And finally, tuck in to Dark Chocolate Cocoa Dusted Almonds and our Milk Handmade Chocolate Selection.

Did you know? The price of a Fortnum’s hamper is always less than the cost of buying its contents and basket individually.

Mailing a cake -- please advise May 16, 2007 12:19 PM Subscribe

I'd like to get some cake to my sister for her birthday, a state away. I read mailing and got some good ideas for how to package it, but does any of these cakes seem like they would mail better than others? I can make upside cake, chocolate cake with fudge frosting or regular frosting, petit fours, or well, anything else I can find a recipe for. Any idea which would survive best?

And I'd like it to arrive on her birthday, though I could send it early if need be -- when should I send it to arrive on a Monday?

Best answer: Seconding the petit fours. Wrap them each in wax paper and arrange them in one of those airtight plastic containers. You'll probably need to fill it out with tissue paper or something similar to minimize movement.

Fondant may be a good option for them as well, providing additional protection.
posted by mkultra at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2007

I know wisecracks are frowned upon, so I'll forgo the joke involving the use of foodstamps.

That said, you can go the Omaha Steaks route and put it in with dry ice if you're afraid of the icing going bad or runny. Somehow, I have a feeling that carrot cake would travel especially well. Fruitcake also.
posted by dr_dank at 12:38 PM on May 16, 2007

It's not homemade, so this may not be what you're thinking of, but I've ordered from here before and they make some nice stuff. I haven't tried their cake, but their chocolates are wonderful. Outside of New England, they will ship overnight w/ ice packs included in the package.

Alternately, I am sure she would understand if you sent her some homemade birthday cookies instead :)
posted by reptile at 12:39 PM on May 16, 2007

If you send the usual kind of frosted cake the frosting will goo everywhere. Mess and disappointment will ensue.

Your upside down cake is frosting-free and can be mailed still inside the baking tin, so should be less messy.

Any kind of filled cake - frosting on the inside only - could work. A jelly roll perhaps?

Petits fours could also work as the frosting is fondant and not squishy.

Alternatively, send an unfrosted cake with a separate pot of frosting.
posted by kika at 12:39 PM on May 16, 2007

If this were my sister's birthday, I'd be looking for a rather dense (structural) cake that wouldn't have to be iced to be pretty, and would retain moisture (won't dry out before it gets there) but not mold (happy birthday!!).

The best cake for all of these requirements has to be a heavily saturated rum cake. The rummiest rum cake I ever had is made in a Bundt shape and shipped in a tin with packing tape wrapped around it to prevent opening, leakage, evaporation, etc. Lots of alcohol (rum and everclear. hooo-ey) and sugar keep the cake mushy and the mold away. Delish, and hardly more difficult than a conventional chocolate cake.

The timing question is best addressed to your FedEx/USPS office. It is a birthday, and a relative, so I'd spring for the overnight or 2-day shipping, even though it "should" take just as long to send at normal rates.

inigo2 has a very very good point about the weather. A lot of conventional icings and petit fours and such won't like hot, humid summer weather.

Go rum cake!
posted by whatzit at 12:45 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Alas, it is something my mom makes, and has refined. I'll see if I can get an exact copy from her, but it goes more or less like what follows. It's definitely one of those recipes that has to be done to taste. I like the way this gives the rum cake a full walloping taste of chocolate, sugar, rum, and alcohol. In contrast, I find a lot of other rum cakes are just caky and rummy, and don't have a very full flavor.

1) make dark chocolate cake in a bundt pan (we were using the betty crocker with-pudding-in-the-mix variety). the bundt pan is important.
2) when cake is done, remove from pan and poke lots and lots of tiny holes in it with a fork. at this point, it should be warm enough to soak up the sauce but cool enough to hold itself together.
3) put the pan on a cooling rack, with another pan underneath the rack.
1b) **while the pan is cooling** you should be making the glaze. It's a glaze much like any other rum cake glaze* (but add a Tablespoon or so extra sugar to the recipe). When you remove the glaze from the heat to add the rum, also add

2 Tbsp everclear. (I believe the ideal glaze has *too much* sugar in it, so when the glaze cools, the sugar-alcohol-fat mixture goos up on top of the cake!)
4) spoon the glaze over the cake, collecting any extra in the pan below the cooling rack. Keep spooning until the cake has abosrbed most of the glaze. put in tin. You know I said the bundt pan was important? Any extra glaze that tries to seep out gets caught in the hole in the middle, and it's a second slice of delicious dessert that also holds a lot of moisture for storing the cake. When we do these around Christmas, we store them in the garage (near freezing) and could pick at them for months if we didn't eat them so fast.

*This one I found online has about the ratios we use for a basic glaze. For this cake, add a couple T of sugar and a couple T of everclear.
1/4 lb. butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. rum

Melt butter in saucepan. Stir in water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat add rum.

Also works well with other flavors of cake.
posted by whatzit at 1:16 PM on May 16, 2007 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Poundcakes actually get better the more they sit (to a point). We've shipped ours in hat boxes before.

I'd recommend a lemon pound cake, covered with lemon glaze (glaze: lemon juice, lemon zest, whisk in enough powdered sugar until it's the consistency you like, pour over cake and you're done). Put the cake on a cake board, wrap in cellophane and place in large hat box.

Put the hat box in a bigger box, and surround with popcorn. Seal and ship.
posted by Atom12 at 1:23 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

I've mailed brownies before (overseas via military mail, even) and it went really well.

1) Get a tossaway cooking container, with lid.
2) Make cake.
3) After letting cake cool (in pan) pack as follows (top to bottom):

hard piece of foam, thick enough to fill to the lid
plastic wrap, packed down against cake
cake, still in pan
bottom of pan

4) Tape as necessary.
5) Although it's kind of lame, include a container of icing from the grocery store. found next to cake-in-a-box. this stuff won't go bad, and won't splash all over if it melts. (Also, optionally, include candles and matches.)

I would just send some kind of standard layer cake/2 egg cake. (Mm.) 2 days isn't really long, if you stuff the plastic wrap down and get as much air out as possible.
posted by anaelith at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2007

Best answer: A big, fluffy angel food cake, plain and unglazed, wrapped with foil and packed with popcorn. in a box within a box. With a jar of homemade chunky strawberry glaze. (They can add their own ice cream or can of whipped cream!)

Not the typical birthday cake but my personal favorite. Disappointed when my mom would go all fancy on me with fancy chocolate cakes, layer cakes, etc. Plus angel food is delicious when toasted lightly in a toaster oven and eaten for breakfast. Tastes just like marshmallows!
posted by QueSeraSera at 6:54 PM on May 16, 2007

Response by poster: While I do like well-made fruitcake, it's not exactly a birthday kind of cake. (Same problem with cookies.)

And sure, my sister would understand. But the main reason I'm doing this is because the two people in her life who would ordinarily make her a cake are in the hospital so I really want to get her something very birthday feeling, to cheer her up while she's spending all of her free time at the hospital.
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:18 PM on May 16, 2007

Watch the video: Silly Easy Petit Fours (January 2022).