A few weeks ago, my niece Savvy asked me if I would like to make fancy dessert food for her 14th birthday slumber party extravaganza. HA! She might as well have asked me if I would like the role of Fanny Brice in an upcoming film remake of “Funny Girl”. Or an invitation to a casual brunch at Ina Garten’s house. Or $10,000. OBVIOUSLY I would like to make fancy dessert food.
Here are the lovely young ladies I was baking for:
The birthday girl and her ma/my sis-in-law:
I made red velvet cupcakes (recipe from America’s favorite southern belle/diabetes pharma spokeswoman Paula Deen) and little tartlets with a sugar-cookie crust, vanilla filling, and strawberries.
I also made today’s featured confectionary creation–Neapolitan cheesecake petits fours!
“Petits fours” is French for “fancy little cake suitable for eating at tea parties.” (Or something like that.) Try and enjoy!
Neapolitan Cheesecake Petits Fours (adapted from this recipe from Taste of Home)
- 1 1/2 c. chocolate graham cracker crumbs
- 4 tbsp melted butter
- 3 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 1-oz. squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate (plus more if you want to dip the finished petits fours)
- 1/3 c. mashed sweetened strawberries
- 3-5 drops red food coloring
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9×13 pan, and bake the crust for 8 minutes. Set it aside to cool and raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Using an electric mixer (or a whoooole lot of elbow grease, I guess), beat the cream cheese, vanilla, and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer a few times to scrape down the bowl, making sure there are no lumps. Divide the cheesecake batter into three equal portions. Melt the 2 squares of baking chocolate, and add it to one bowl of cheesecake batter. Add the mashed strawberries and red food coloring to another bowl. (Start with just a couple of drops, and add more to get the shade of pink you want.) Spread the chocolate cheesecake batter evenly over the crust. Spread the plain batter over that, and finish with the strawberry. Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 300 and continue baking for about 20 minutes longer, until the middle is just set.
Let the cheesecake cool completely, and then refrigerate. Once it’s chilled, slice it into small squares. (I used a pizza cutter dipped in hot water to keep the edges nice and neat.) If you’d like, melt some more baking chocolate and dip one half of each little cake.