Nutella Pound Cake Petit Fours have big flavor in a small package! These sweet heart-shaped desserts are perfect for Valentine’s Day or any special occasion. The shiny chocolate glaze is a unique recipe that would also be great on mousse cakes and other soft desserts.
There are few things more perfect to me than petit fours. I love everything about them: their sweet miniature size, their delicate, precise layers of cake and filling, their elegant decorations…they basically light up all the frou-frou pleasure centers of my brain.
True story: at one point I dreamed of opening a bakery that served only miniature desserts. I wrote out elaborate menus and planned what the logo would look like and decorated the whole thing in my head. Of course I didn’t do any practical planning, because NO THANKS, REALITY, but the impractical part, the fun, imaginative, dessert planning part? I was all over that like chocolate glaze on a petit four. (Aaaaand then I worked for years in bakeries and lost all sense of romanticism and youthful enthusiasm for the project, but for awhile there I was hopeless enamored.)
If my soul hadn’t been crushed by real-world drudgery and I did open that dream bakery, these petit fours are exactly the thing I would want to serve. Three thin layers of moist cream cheese pound cake sandwiching two thick layers of Nutella. They’re topped with a shiny chocolate glaze and easy decorations made from Sixlets and sugar pearls. They’re small enough to be served as part of a larger dessert selection, but substantial enough to still feel satisfying and indulgent.
Cut them into heart shapes and make them for your love on Valentine’s Day, or keep it simple and cut them into square so you can bang out a few dozen in no time, like a boss. I topped them with an impossibly shiny chocolate glaze (spoiler alert: gelatin is involved!) that is beautiful because it can be reheated multiple times without any negative effects on the texture or flavor. But if that’s not your thing, I’ve also provided some gelatin-free alternatives in the recipe notes below.
Nutella Pound Cake Petit Fours
For the Pound Cake:
To Make the Pound Cake:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 17 x 11-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Spray the parchment with nonstick cooking spray.
- In the bowl of a large stand mixer combine the softened butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and mix it in. The batter might appear a little broken at this point—that’s okay.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredient and mix just until they’re combined. Finish stirring everything together with a spatula, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it into an even layer. Bake the cake at 350 F for about 23-25 minutes, until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Let it cool completely at room temperature. The cake can be made several days ahead of time; wrap it well in cling-wrap if you’re making it in advance.
- Flip the cake upside-down onto a cutting board and peel off the piece of parchment. Cut the cake into six rectangles by cutting the cake across the middle lengthwise, then cutting it into thirds widthwise. Use a long serrated knife to carefully cut each rectangle into two thin layers (like you would cut a cake into layers) so that you’re left with 12 thin rectangles.
- Spread a thin layer of Nutella on top of the cake slice, then top it with a second piece of cake. Add a second layer of Nutella, and finish the stack with a third cake layer. Set this cake stack aside, and repeat the process until you have four identical stacks of cake and Nutella layers. Place the cakes in the freezer briefly, for about 20-30 minutes, until they’re firm but not rock hard. You will get cleaner cuts if the cake is not soft and room temperature. Once the cake is chilled, use a cookie cutter to cut the cake into heart shapes.
To Make the Glaze:
- Combine the gelatin with 1/2 cup of cold water in a small bowl, and whisk to combine. Let the gelatin sit and absorb the water while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
- Combine the remaining 1 cup of water, the cream, and the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk until the sugar dissolves, then bring the mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Once it comes to a boil, add the cocoa powder and whisk it in. Continue to stir the mixture and boil it for four more minutes.
- After four minutes, remove the pan from the heat and add the gelatin. Whisk it in until the gelatin dissolves. At this point, if you don’t want to use the glaze right away, you can pour it into a glass bowl, press a layer of cling wrap on top, and chill it until you’re ready to use it. It can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- If you do want to use it immediately, it needs to cool down a bit until it’s at a workable temperature—it needs to be warm enough to flow freely, but cool enough to provide even coverage on the petit fours. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes at room temperature, then test the texture: arrange the petit fours on a wire rack over a baking sheet, and pour some glaze over a petit four. If it goes on evenly and provides good coverage, then it’s ready. If it’s still too thin, let it cool and thicken at room temperature and try again in a few minutes.
- Once the right texture is reached, pour the glaze over the petit fours. If you run out of glaze, scrape the excess from the baking sheet and transfer it back to the saucepan. Reheat gently as needed, so that it flows smoothly. If desired, you can also double-coat the petit fours to smooth out any rough edges. Once all the petit fours are glazed, top them with decorative candies if desired.
- Refrigerate the tray of petit fours to set the glaze before serving. They can be made in advance and stored up to a week in the refrigerator if well-wrapped.