I starting becoming obsessed with these little morsels of heavenly goodness after P brought back a pack of them from a great Parisian bakery, Eric Kayser, located right around the corner from his parents’ apartment. Oh what a joy it must be to have Kayser, Pierre Herme and La Duree just a few foot falls away from your front door! At the same time, what a blessing … I’d probably start resembling a large, round, cream-filled macaroon after a few months … probably …
Now, I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered the financier quite yet, I still detect a lingering egg white aftertaste in mine, but that is why I have to make them over and over again – practice makes perfect! The secret to a good financier must be the beurre noisette, and the quality of the butter that you use to make it. I must admit, I haven’t made it before and I always go the lazy way by melting butter and then using it once it cools down. One thing I do know is that President brand unsalted butter is one to be avoided! When cold, it’s dry, crumbly and lacks any sort of creaminess that you would expect from butter. When melted, it smells faintly of vomit – no kidding.
To make the beurre noisette (literally translated as ‘hazelnut butter), place good quality unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted let it come to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally. As it boils, a foam will appear at the surface. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom on the pan and are a deep brown colour. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer and let cool. This separating and heating gives the butter a nutty flavour.
Ok, that is as technical as I’m going to get, and as I said, if you want to be lazy (like me), you can use melted butter. The result still tastes great and will only take you 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to bake.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds (available at GrEAT and Citysuper in Hong Kong)
3/4 cup of caster sugar
A pinch of salt (preferably larger grained salt, like gros sel or Maldon)
1/3 cup beurre noisette (made from 110 grams of unsalted butter), or melted unsalted butter
3 large egg whites, beaten
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Step by step method:
1.Preheat oven to 170 Celcius
2. Put butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, taking it out once to stir.
3. Spread ground almonds on a baking tray, bung in the oven until browning slightly (5 mins)
4. Sift flour and sugar into mixing bowl
5. Take ground almonds out to cool, increase oven temperature to 205 C
6. Beat egg whites, add vanilla extract
7. Mix cooled almonds with dry ingredients, add salt – make a well in the center
8. Add egg whites, cooled butter, and use a spatula to fold the mixture together untilcompletely incorporated.
9. Pour into chosen mould (tip: use a tablespoon measure to ensure you put the same amount
in each), bake at 205C for 12-15 mins.
Now this is where you can personalise your financiers! I’ve used muffin tins (2 tbsp per mould) and topped them with red raspberries (these look better with the contrast in colour), and golden raspberries.
I’ve also used mini muffin cases (1tbsp per mould), and topped them with a small dollop of jam . Here I used blackcurrant and apricot jam:
I’ll also be experimenting with different berry toppings, adding chopped pistachios, or a few tablespoons of cocoa powder to make chocolate financiers, YUM!
Tip: If adding toppings, bake the financiers for 4 mins, then remove from the oven and add your toppings – this way they’ll look prettier 🙂 and won’t sink to the bottom. Then bake for a further 7-10 mins, depending on your oven. You know when they’re ready when they look golden brown and crispy on the top.
Try them out, you won’t be disappointed. Trust me, one recipe won’t last long!