Petits Fours Hubris
I took it into my head at 9:00 this evening to make petits fours for the kids’ bento. Why? you ask. Because I’m going steady with the Eumenides this week–and it’s only Tuesday. I clearly needed to be taken down a notch, and the universe was ready to oblige.
So I made a batch of my standard white butter cake–a sturdy, toothsome cake. And I consulted Martha Stewart about glaze. Strangely, there was no pouring fondant in my pantry, nor yet the materials for a white chocolate ganache. So I tried the Butter Glaze she recommended for her Halloween petits fours–just melted butter, confectioner’s sugar, and milk.
What was I thinking? Anyone who’s ever done any baking could tell you that when you mix milk into melted butter, you get little tiny flakes of congealed butter suspended in milk. Adding the powdered sugar just emphasized the grainy nastiness of the texture.
As soon as I started whisking it, I knew I was in trouble. I knew it was going to be a disaster. So I . . . kept going. I tinted half of the glaze mauve and half delphinium-blue, using some Wilton gel colors that were a big mistake to begin with, so they’ve been hanging around the cupboard way too long. The result, according to my mother, was a handsome cadaver blue and what Little Sunshine identified as “muscle tissue pink.” Myself, I’d have to go with Settled Lividity.*
The glaze then separated on the cakes, leaving sedimentary deposits of butter on the edges of small pools of nasty liquid.
I flung some confetti sprinkles on them in a vain attempt to conceal their (and my) shame, and washed the dishes. They continue to grow nastier, as the cake dampens and crumbles under the remorseless onslaught of the glaze. These are zombie cakes, and they may well take over the house by morning.
*In the middle of the 18th century, colors with names like cuisses de nymphes and rose cendre were all the rage. Maybe I’m on to something?