French Friday #9: Petit Four

coffee, kvpi, mademoiselle love

This week's French word
by:  Mademoiselle Love
Petit Four

pronounced:   pə.ti.fur |
 Translation - "small oven" / little cakes

Sorry about my brief hiatus from la Tasse de Café last week. I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest! Where else? While I was down there, I was reminded of a certain little dessert that everyone I know in New Orleans refers to as a petit four, and I realized that it was of upmost importance that this cute little cake be discussed over our weekly "tasse de café". Today's café is a delicious double shot of Indriya blend out of my adorable Nespresso coffee machine. Mmmm...

In the States, petits fours look like this, and their pronunciation goes something like this : [pedi -  for]. 
Correct French pronunciation :  [pə.ti.fur]

You may have heard of and perhaps even tasted these precious little cakes, but what a lot of people don't know is that the petit four dates back to 19th century France. Before the days of gas ovens, petits fours were baked in coal-fired brick ovens after the fire was put out. The cool down phase can be thought of as the low-heat setting on the oven. Petit four is French for "small oven", as in small or low heat. However, in France, petits fours do not only refer to little cakes. They come in many varieties. American petits fours are of the glacé (glazed) variety, but they could also be frais (fresh), sec (dry) or even salé (savory).

Unlike you, Amy Lynn had to learn it the hard way...

Amy Lynn: Simone, this is such a nice party. These little savory appetizers are delicious.

Simone: Uh, thanks. But Amy Lynn, I would prefer you to call them petits fours.

Amy Lynn: But I thought petits fours were just those adorable little cakes.

Simone: OMG, Amy Lynn, do I have to teach you everything? Petit fours are any small baked confection or appetizer. They can be salty or sweet.

Amy Lynn: Like, OMG, that is so cool, Simone!

Don't forget that there are many kinds of petits fours out there, and don't forget to pronounce it correctly! You don't want Simone or Mademoiselle Love for that matter coming after you with her ruler.

Merci Beaucoup,
Mademoiselle Love
jenée here - I'm so excited Mlle Love decided to talk about Petit Four today. It seems over the past decade there is always a fashionable treat of the moment. Currently the French Macaron is trying to hold on to first place and before that it was the cupcake.  Ideally a fashionable treat is dainty and pretty - so why not, STARTING NOW - make New Orleans Style Petit Fours the new fashionable treat!! They would also be adorable this Mother's day. 
peiti four cakes, jenee sais quoi
New Orleans Style Petit Four


The Origin of "La Tasse de Café", French for "the cup of coffee"
Is a Cajun morning radio show out of Ville Platte, Louisiana on KVPI-FM
My dad listens to it regularly to keep up with his Cajun French as he now doesn't have much opportunity to speak it in Louisiana where the language is disappearing. 
Since I'm from Cajunland in Louisiana, with a serious interest in fashion and Mademoiselle Love is a  Louisiana girl too, who is head over heels in love with everything French and everything coffee, it was only fitting we pay tribute to our roots and our new found loves.
Tune in or Stream in KVPI every Monday,Wednesday & Friday  at 8:45AM (NY time) for your Cajun French lesson and come back to the blog every Friday for more French lessons from Mademoiselle Love. We will discuss useful French  words or expressions for the fashionable girl over a very fashionable cup of coffee.