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|Place of origin||France|
|Main ingredients||Varies by type|
A petit four (plural: petits fours, also known as mignardises) is a small bite-sized confectionery or savoury appetizer. The name is French, petit four (French pronunciation: [pə.ti.fur]), meaning "small oven".
History and etymology
In 18th and 19th century France, gas ovens did not exist. Huge brick ovens were used, which took a long time to heat up but also to cool down. Bakers used the ovens during the cooling process, taking advantage of their stored heat, for baking pastry. This was called baking à petit four (literally "at small oven"), a lower temperature which allowed pastry baking.
Petits fours come in three varieties:
- Glacé ("glazed"), iced or decorated tiny cakes covered in fondant or icing, such as small éclairs, and tartlets
- Salé ("salted"), savoury bite-sized appetizers usually served at cocktail parties or buffets
- Sec ("dry"), dainty biscuits, baked meringues, macarons, and puff pastries
In a French patisserie, assorted small desserts are usually called mignardises, while hard, buttery biscuits are called petits fours.
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