Sunday, April 22, 2007

Financiers



Yes, I'm still on an official break from blogging -- the baby and the move still looming ahead of me -- but I haven't stopped baking. And these financiers came out so well I felt I had to post about them.



The recipe comes from Frais!, a blog in French. I had never thought of making financiers before. I saw them often in French pâtisseries, but if I tasted them once I wasn't impressed.

But when I saw this post, with the raspberries embedded in the little cookies? muffins? I felt I had to try. Especially as I had many left-over egg whites from making ice cream, petits pots de crème or lemon tarts. And I was rewarded by a delightful result.

They're very tender, with a slightly crunchy outside. If you add the raspberry, its tartness contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the dough. And the almond flavor is deliciously complemented by the flavor of burnt butter, or "beurre noisette." The dough itself is quite addictive, beware!





I also like that they hold the shape of the mold, so in addition to the traditional rectangular gold ingot shapes (possible origin of the pastry's name), I can make hearts, circles, stars... True, they tend to stick to the molds, even if they're silicone as mine are. Meticulous buttering of the molds with melted butter and a pastry brush is worth the effort.



I believe they do not keep very well, losing their crunchy outside if stored in a closed container. But we never have any left-overs to test this theory. To have some ready ahead of time I freeze the batter in a plastic bag or plastic pastry bag. When I want fresh financiers I thaw the batter (preferably overnight in the fridge), snip a corner of the plastic bag off and pipe the dough into buttered molds. They bake in a jiffy.

Recipe: Financiers (with or without raspberries)
Source: Frais!



Ingredients
(The first time I made these I halved the recipe)
- 330g de confectioners sugar
- 120g ground almonds (I ground whole almonds together with a few tablespoons of the sugar so that they wouldn't get oily)
- 30g honey (Fred recommends "miel d'acacia", I used whatever I had on hand)
- 125g flour
- 3g (a little over 1/2 tspn) baking powder
- 180g butter
- 340g egg whites (about 9-10. I think you can get away with a little less)
- 20g eau de vie de framboise (I skipped this)
- A few fresh or frozen raspberries (optional. I used frozen raspberries, without defrosting them)

1- Preheat your oven to 220°C. Carefully butter the molds you will be using with a brush and melted butter.
2- Sift the confectioners sugar. Add the ground almonds and whisk together.
3- Sift the flour and the baking powder. Add to the sugar and nuts and stir.
4- Prepare the "beurre noisette" (or burnt butter, or hazelnut butter...). Boil the butter until the foam subsides and the butter smells of hazelnuts. While you want to make sure you don't burn the butter too much, don't be too shy either, the caramel flavor of toasted butter is the best part of the financiers. I left mine to cook until I saw grains of burnt butter residue at the bottom of my pot.
5- Pour the butter on the dry mixture and mix it carefully and thoroughly.
6- Add the honey and then the egg whites, gradually. Mix till smooth. Add the alcohol, if using.
7- Pour into the financiers forms (careful the mixture is very runny. I use a pastry bag or a plastic bag with a corner snipped off). If you wish, place a frozen or fresh raspberry on top of each. Don't push the berry down into the batter, it's better if the raspberry doesn't come in contact with the mold as it makes the financier even stickier. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Depending on their size, watch carefully that they don't become too brown, though a darkish brown is quite desirable in my opinion.

Let them cool down before eating them. As Fred recommends, they do improve as they cool off.



Update July 2007
This batter can serve as the base for different types of desserts. See the recent posting on financiers and lemon cream.