To be honest, I did not have the faintest idea what a financier was until just a few years ago... much like how I didn't know about French macarons
until this past year. It seems the common denominator in these pastries is that they are all French and they're mostly made with ground almonds (I just realized this as I was typing). On a side note, I seem to be in quite the almond-y mood lately, as witnessed by my "risky" addition of almond extract in my recent marshmallow
Actually, I used to associate financiers solely with the patisserie in Manhattan named, Financier
. This is probably due to the fact that when my friend introduced me to this quaint pastry shop a few years back, she also introduced me to these delightful tiny cakes that I had never seen before. Traditionally, they are baked in individual rectangular molds resembling a gold brick - supposedly, the first financiers were made in a French pastry shop located in the Paris Stock Exchange, hence the name, financier. So you can understand how I had thought financiers were only made at Financier Patisserie. (oh how much I've learned since then!)
As you can see, I baked my financiers in a mini muffin tin as I do not own any fancy financier molds. Even though it would've been nice, the muffin tin worked just fine. It's the taste that really matters, right? And these tasted mighty fine! I decided to brown the butter to dial up the nutty flavor of the financiers. Browning butter involves melting butter over medium heat, until it reaches a dark golden color and speckled with brown bits at the bottom of the pan. [Read more about how to brown butter at Simply Recipes]
The brown butter gives the financiers such a nice, rich aroma - which was balanced out by the addition of orange zest and blueberries. I'm really starting to enjoy the flavor of orange in pastries more and more... next time, I think some lemon zest or other berry would be just as delicious.
These are perfectly bite-sized cakes for breakfast, afternoon tea... or dare I say, even a midnight snack? I won't tell if you won't...
Makes 21 2 x 4-inch (5 x 10-cm) financiers
2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds
1 cup (140 g) finely ground almonds
1 2/3 cups (210 g) confectioners sugar
1/2 cup (70g) unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon orange zest (optional)*
3/4 cup (185 g) egg whites (5 to 6)
3/4 cup (6 ounces; 185 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 450°F(230°C).
With a pastry brush, use the 2 tablespoons melted butter to butter the financier molds or mini muffin tin. If using molds, arrange them sided by side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds or muffin tin in the freezer to resolidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.
In a large bowl, combine the ground almonds, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and orange zest (if using), mix until thoroughly blended. Add the 3/4 cup butter and mix until thoroughly blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.
Spoon the batter into the molds or muffin tin, filling them almost to the rim. Top with three blueberries each. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400°F(205°C). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven heat and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold. The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.
* Notes in italics are my additions and modifications.