Financiers (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr) are lovely dome-shaped French tea cakes
(cookies) with a soft and springy texture that taste of
caramelized butter and almonds. The edges of these cookies are nicely
browned and I love to serve them warm from the oven with a hot cup of tea. Dorie Greenspan in her excellent book
Paris Sweets tells us that Financiers were first made in the late 19th
century by a pastry chef whose shop was close to the Paris Stock Exchange.
He baked the Financiers in
rectangular molds that were said to resemble bars of gold. While you
can buy special Financier molds to bake these cookies, I just use either
pans (molds) or a miniature muffin tin.
The batter for Financiers is made by combining flour
with ground almonds and powdered sugar. To that is added lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla
extract and brown butter (beurre noisette). Brown
butter is just clarified butter
which has been cooked until the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of
the saucepan and turned golden brown. This butter gives the Financiers
their rich caramel flavor. Since you need to see the butter browning,
make sure to use a light colored saucepan. While not difficult to make, if
you prefer, you can replace the brown butter with 1/3 cup (80 ml) of
melted unsalted butter.
almonds (or almond meal) add a really nice flavor and texture to these
cookies. If you like you can buy ground almonds (called almond meal or
flour), but I normally just put 1/2 cup (55 grams) of either whole,
shaved, or slivered blanched almonds into my food processor and process
them until finely ground (texture similar to corn meal). Do not over
process or you will end up with a nut butter. (To add even more almond
flavor, you can toast the almonds first in the oven for about 8 minutes or
until lightly browned. Let cool and then process.) (Almond meal/flour is
usually sold in small bags and can
be found in most grocery stores, specialty food stores, health food
stores, or on line.)
batter is made it can be covered and stored in the refrigerator for a few days. Financiers are delicious plain but are especially pretty
when topped with raspberries, blueberries, thin slices of strawberries, or
even blackberries. The berries are placed on the top of the Financiers
about halfway through the baking time to prevent them from sinking.
the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) with the oven rack in the center of the oven. Place
12 rectangular or boat shaped tartlet molds (each holds about 2 tablespoons of
batter) on a baking sheet. (Can also use mini muffin cups.)
Place the butter in a small
light colored saucepan over medium heat. Once the
butter has melted let it come to a boil, swirling the pan occasionally. As it
boils you will notice that a foam will appear on the
butter's surface. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids
have dropped to the bottom of the pan and have turned golden brown. Remove
from heat and immediately pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Let
cool to room temperature. You
will need 1/3 cup (80 ml) of brown butter. Use the leftover brown butter
to butter the molds (use a pastry brush).
In a large
bowl whisk together the flour, ground almonds, confectioners sugar, and salt. Make
a well in the center and fold in the lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla, and the
brown butter. Fill each mold
almost to the rim and bake for about 4 minutes (batter is set around the edges
but still soft in the center). Remove from the oven and gently place one or
two fresh raspberries on top of each. Bake a
further 5-7 minutes or until the Financiers have become golden brown around the
and are springy to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire
rack. These are best eaten warm from the oven, but they can be covered and
stored for a few days at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
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