Petit Fours are lovely little treats for parties, and also for 'le gouter' - the French version of teatime -- a sweet afterschool snack for kids, and little sweet something for adults too.
The chef demonstrated 4 different kinds: macaroons, cigarettes, raisin cookies and marshall's batons. We made the last two in our practical class. Macaroons are a craze in Europe, I remember liking them in Switzerland a few years ago at Sprungli - they called them Luxembourgli, I think? They are mostly sugar in the meringue shell, and have a flavored paste holding the two halves together. I do not care for them, but macaroons are highly profitable, and people seem to love the little things. I apologize to those of you who do love them.
I had a good day in the kitchen, the chef in the practical kitchen was happy with my results. The raisin cookies are a simple drop cookie with three raisins added on top. They taste very much like raisin bread, and would be improved with a little cinnamon. Of course, at Le Cordon Bleu, they take a simple cookie and give it two separate toppings - apricot glaze first, then a mix of powdered sugar and rum is drizzled over them. I am not sure if I have made a dessert in Paris without alcohol. No wonder everyone wants a dessert in the afternoon, it is cocktail time!
The marshall's batons are meringue based as well, but not quite as sugary. They are similar to a Pepperidge Farm cookie. We pipe them onto baking sheets, sprinkle chopped almonds and when they are cool, spread chocolate glaze on them. The chocolate glaze conversation was a little heated. I think some of us are wondering why take the time to make a nice cookie and cover it with cheap chocolate glaze - dark chocolate mixed with vegetable oil - instead of using a nice tempered chocolate or ganache. The main answer is cost. I understand that patisseries need to make a profit, but I also think that the school should be teaching us the higher end of the scale, instead of the lowest. I will get off the cheap chocolate soapbox now.
Friday was also my last day this session to be a kitchen assistant (kitch bitch), thank God! It means I had to carry the ingredients not already in the kitchen up three or four flights -- the dumbwaiters never work, and people steal ingredients off the tray. If something was missing, or there was not enough, I had to stop what I was doing and book around the school to get it. I also have to make sure the kitchen is in order before we leave, which is not always easy to do. Mostly, our group works as a team, but there are a few who don't pitch in and those who are clueless about cleaning up their own messes. For example, at dinner, I asked everyone what they missed from home, and one person answered, "I really miss my servants!"
Tomorrow we make individual tarts, chocolate and orange (separate). Then we have Tuesday off for Bastille Day. I have to take some time to study, we have our written exam on Friday afternoon.