When I myself was quite small, there was nothing I liked quite so much as little things. I was fond of dolls, and would lovingly create tiny everything for the favorites in my possession: tiny clothes, tiny books, tiny tea parties and meals, and entire diminutive environments. I once, at about the age of ten, transformed a narrow vertical bookcase into a doll apartment building, complete with teensy hand-sewn cotton-filled futon mattresses for one of the rooms. I loved miniatures of all kinds, and would beg, borrow or make them myself in order to have the little things I needed to create miniscule worlds. I longed for bonsai trees so that my miniature spaces would be green, too.
Most of all I loved tiny food. As soon as I saw lady apples and seckel pears in the market each fall, I begged for them. "They'd be perfect for my dolls," I'd croon to my mother, hanging on her arm at the market pleadingly. I adored baby vegetables too, even if the scale wasn't quite small enough for my dolls. But the first time I ever saw petits fours, I really fell in love. They were the tiny square iced-cake ones with a bitty flower on top, and unlike every other one of their ilk I've eaten since then, they were as delicious as they were beautiful. Made in the excellent and authentic French bakery in the town where I grew up, they were perfect little layer cakes, made of genoise cake filled with buttercream, dipped in a layer of apricot glaze and iced in chocolate or pastel fondant frosting. And of course, they were the perfect party food for the petite dining room I had made in my bookcase doll's world.
When I saw that Jeanne was hosting a Sugar High Friday with tiny treats as the theme, I first thought of recreating those sweet little cakes of fond memory. But knowing in the midst of the tangle of several hellish weeks that I was going to be running late for this event (and I'm still hoping that I get this posted before our lovely host awakens from her slumbers, since she extended the deadline to whenever she wakes up on Saturday), I decided that I couldn't quite manage the multiple recipes that iced and filled petits fours would require. I decided upon two other treats: first, miniature Korova cookies. These required only that I defrost some frozen cylinders of dough made last weekend, and re-form them into tinier cookies for baking. I gave them the bit of dress-up that true mignardises require: a sparkly fragment of candied violet stuck on with an extra dab of chocolate.
My other treat required a little more ingenuity. It's a sort of scented almond baby financier cupcake filled and topped with a droplet of this summer's apricot curd, waiting in the freezer for a special occasion. What better moment than SHF?
The financier is made from my favorite scented madeleine batter, made with beurre noisette instead of plain melted butter. The apricot curd can actually be made in any season, and is almost as delicious made solely with dried apricots as it is with fresh. Assembly requires only that tiny cupcake cases in tiny muffin tins be almost-filled with the madeleine batter, and a half-teaspoon drop of apricot curd dolloped on top. The batter rises around the curd, which provides a tangy, creamy fruit center in the middle of all that fragile, fine-crumbed almond cake. These bake just like my original madeleines recipe, for 8-10 minutes at 400F. At serving time, you need only dollop another drop of curd on the top of the cooled cakelets for a pretty presentation.
I still love miniatures, but I no longer waste my tiny treats on dolls. It's fortunate that as small as these cakes may be, both recipes have a large yield. Little things as tasty as these demand multiple servings in a big-people world.