Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 10-23-2015 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
When Halloween gets a little too scary, sometimes a CUTE treat is in order.
These little crafty owl petits fours cakes would be a perfect addition to any Halloween party treat table.
Everything is edible and made in flavorful chocolate that covers the almond financier cake base, but you can use any kind of cake recipe you desire.
CAKE RECIPE HELP
1 recipe Classic Financiers batter; refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Can be made for up to 3 days in advance and kept refrigerated.
1 recipe White Chocolate Wrapping Paper or Plastic, untinted; make the day before
yellow and orange gel paste food coloring
1 recipe Simple Dark Chocolate Ganache; make the day of using in Step III
Candy Buttons, for the eyes
Black food color marker
Pretzel twists, for the branches
Wilton Jumbo Rainbow Nonpareils, you will only need the white ones
Black or brown candy covered sunflower seeds
Small yellow star sprinkles, for the feet
Small amount of chocolate or chocolate chips for melting
2-inch circle cutter and 1.75-inch fluted circle cutter, for the wings
1.25-inch heart cutter, for the face
.75-inch leaf cutter, for leaves
Texture mat, etc.
1 Braids Texture Mat; this is optional, but adds visual interest to the cakes
Cake tester, skewer, or toothpicks
Paint brushes used for food
STEP I: PREPARE THE FINANCIER MOLDS. TINT THE WHITE CHOCOLATE.
Prepare the financier molds:
1. Generously butter 12 fluted oval tart molds, also known as barquette molds, 3 1/2-inches length, and 1/2 to 1-inch in depth and place them on a baking sheet.
NOTE: 1/2-inch deep molds will yield 20 financiers; 1-inch deep molds will yield 12.
2. Refrigerate the molds while you tint the white chocolate plastic.
Tint the white chocolate plastic:
1. Remove the chilled white chocolate plastic from the refrigerator.
It will be very hard at this point. Don’t be alarmed! It will soften up from the heat of your hands, as you knead it.
2. Cut the disk in half, and knead it until it is somewhat pliable.
3. Put one drop of BROWN gel paste food color in the center, then fold the mass over, and knead in the color until it is uniform.
Wrap the tan chocolate plastic in plastic.
2. Knead the remaining chocolate plastic until pliable, then cut it in half.
Add one drop yellow to one half, and one drop orange to the other.
Knead the color in, then wrap the yellow and orange chocolate plastic in plastic.
STEP II: BAKE THE FINANCIERS
1. Position an oven shelf to the middle of the oven. Heat te oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Fill the prepared molds according to the directions in the Classic Financiers recipe.
3. Bake: If your molds are 1/2-inches deep, they will take about 11 minutes to bake.
If they are 1-inch deep, they will take 13-14 minutes to bake.
4. Cool cakes, in the molds for a few minutes, then remove them from the molds, and finish cooling them on a wire rack.
STEP III: MAKE THE SIMPLE DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE. DIP THE FINANCIER CAKES.
Make the Simple Chocolate Ganache:
1. Make the Simple Chocolate Ganache recipe.
2. Set ganache aside for 15 minutes or so, to thicken slightly, stirring occasionally.
Dip the Financier cakes:
1. Dip the tops of the FULLY cooled cakes into the chocolate ganache.
2. Hold the cakes over the bowl to allow the excess ganache to drip off, then turn the cakes upright.
Place cakes on a rack.
3. When finished dipping all the cakes, place rack in the refrigerator to set the ganache. Do NOT cover the cakes, otherwise you will mar the chocolate.
STEP IV: PREPARE THE OWL'S DECORATIONS
Prepare the owl's tan wings and face:
The wings: You will need one circle that makes two wings per cake.
1. Working with a small portion of tan chocolate plastic at a time, roll it out on a cornstarch dusted silpat mat to about 1/8-inch thick.
NOTE: It is best to work with small pieces at a time.
2. If using a texture mat, place the rolled out piece on the mat. Roll it to about 1/16-inch.
Invert the mat.
Carefully lift up the mat, revealing the texture on the tan chocolate plastic.
3. Cut out as many 2-inch circles as you can, then gather the scraps together, and cover them with plastic so they don’t dry out.
You will need one circle for each financier cake as these will make the two wings.
Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the tops of any unused circles as you work.
4. Mark the center of the circle with a cake tester, then, using the fluted cutter, cut the circle in half, making two wings.
Repeat the rolling, texturing and cutting until you have enough wings for all of your cakes.
The faces: You will need one per cake.
1. Roll out another small portion of tan chocolate plastic to 1/16-inch, making sure that your work surface and rolling pin are well dusted with cornstarch.
2. Cut out as many heart shapes (faces) as you can, then cut the point off the end of the hearts with the circle cutter.
Repeat the process until you have enough faces for all of your cakes.
The yellow Candy Button eyes: You will need two per cake
1. Use the black food marker to make the pupils on the yellow Candy Buttons.
2. Brush on two tiny dots of water where you want to place the eyes on the tan faces, they gently press them into place.
Repeat this process until all the faces have eyes.
The owl's pretzel branches: You will need one per cake
1. Prepare the branches by very gently cutting the pretzel twists with a sharp serrated knife.
Some will invariable break where you don’t want them to, but go for organic shapes, that mimic tree branches.
The owl's beak: You will need one per cake
1. Pinch off TINY sections of orange chocolate plastic, and form it into small triangles, for the beaks.
STEP V: ASSEMBLE THE CRAFTY OWL MINI-CAKES
It is best to decorate the cakes in an assembly line fashion, so have all of your embellishments at the ready.
Remove the white nonpareil sprinkles and the yellow stars from the bottles of rainbow colored sprinkles and place them in small cups so they are ready to go.
1. Remove cakes from the refrigerator.
2. Set the pretzel branches in place, leaving enough room at the bottom of the cake to set the tail feathers in place, Step 6.
Press one per cake gently into the ganache, so it stays in place.
3. Set the tan chocolate plastic faces and wings in place.
4. Using a tweezer, set the Wilton Jumbo WHITE nonpareils in place.
5. Brush on a tiny dot of water and place the orange chocolate plastic beak in place on the owl's tan face.
Place two of the black candy covered sunflower seeds into the ganache over the owls’ faces, forming the ear tufts.
You do not need to add water for the ear tufts…just press them into the ganache.
6. Press three of the black candy covered sunflower seeds into the ganache below the branch, creating the tail feathers
7. Melt a small amount of chocolate or chocolate chips in the microwave and use a toothpick to place two dots on the branch.
Set two of the yellow stars on the chocolate with a tweezer, making the owls feet.
8. Roll out the yellow and orange chocolate plastic on a cornstarch dusted silpat mat to 1/16-inch.
Cut out leaves, using the 1-inch leaf cutter.
Press scraps together, and roll out to make variegated leaves.
9. Use a cake tester or toothpick to make the veins in the leaves.
10. Place dots of melted chocolate on the branches and set the leaves into place.
It is best to use a variety of colors on each owl.
Cakes do not need refrigeration and can be served at room temperature.
Cakes are best eaten the day they are made, but you can store them, for up to two days, at room temperature, in a lidded container.