dessrt

Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.

Ooh la la, Financiers!

Financiers, je t’aime. Sadly, you don’t see these little french teacakes, cousin to the more ubiquitous madelleine, very often in the United States. This is really a shame because they are equally (if not more, in my opinion) delicous. Luckily, you can easily make these in the comfort of your own kitchen, saving you an expensive plane ticket to France. Huzzah!

There are only four ingredients in financiers- butter, sugar, almond flour, and egg whites. The egg whites act as the leavening agent. Some recipes call for beating the egg whites separately and folding them into the batter, but the recipe I followed has you stir them in straight up over low heat. This is (a) easier, (b) saves you from another dirty bowl, and (c) produces a perfect dense-but-tender crumb.

The distinguishing feature of a financier (besides the almond flour) is the beurre noisette, or brown butter. This is made by gently swirling butter over medium heat until the solid particles begin to brown, giving it an amber color and nutty flavor and aroma, which perfectly compliments the almonds.

You can also put jam or fresh fruit in your financiers. I made half plain and half with homemade plum jam (yummy). Just place a teaspoon-sized dollop on top of the batter; the jam will sink to the center while baking (except for this one lone financier that ended up with an adorable heart-shaped pattern on top).


Traditionally, these are baked in individual rectangular molds, but you can really use just about anything. Which is good, because most people don’t have special financiers molds laying around the house. I made mine in mini muffin tins.

There are two stories behind the name. One is that the cakes, baked in their rectangular molds, resemble little bars of gold. The other theory is that they were first made in the late 19th century by a pastry chef whose shop was close to the Paris Stock Exchange. Maybe the shape was intentional?


Ingredients
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces; 180 grams) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 grams) sugar
1 cup (100 grams) ground almonds
6 large egg whites
2/3 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour


Directions
Put the butter in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a deep brown, but don’t turn your back on the pan - the difference between brown and black is measured in seconds. Pull the pan from the heat and keep it in a warm place.

Mix the sugar and almonds together in a medium saucepan. Stir in the egg whites, place the pan over low heat, and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, heat the mixture until it is runny, slightly white and hot to the touch, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour, then gradually mix in the melted butter. Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the batter to create an airtight seal, and chill for at least 1 hour. (The batter can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter 12 rectangular financier molds (I used mini muffin tins), dust the interiors with flour and tap out the excess. Place the molds on a baking sheet for easy transport.

Fill each mold almost to the top with batter. Slide the molds into the oven and bake for about 13 minutes, or until the financiers are golden, crowned and springy to the touch. If necessary, run a blunt knife between the cookies and the sides of the pans, then turn the cookies out of their molds and allow them to cool to room temperature right side up on cooling racks.

Recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan.
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