A Financier is a funny little almond cake made with browned butter and a long history. It’s a little bitty one-bite treat, golden brown and perfect just warm from the oven.
Though some believe Financiers originated in Paris in the 1800’s it might have an older ancestor, Visitandines de Lorraine from way back in the 17th century. Whatever the case, they’re easy enough to make even without the fancy-pants Financier pan. I used a simple 24-count mini muffin pan and a mini brownie pan and both worked just fine. Be sure to follow the directions about brushing the pans with butter because that’s the key to getting the cakes out of the pan and making the outside golden brown.
These are one of those things best made with butter. Brown the butter until it is incredibly nutty brown just on the verge of too much brown. Watch it carefully because butter browns in an instant and then goes from nutty perfect to oh-oh-why-is-the-smoke-alarm-going-off wrong quickly. With practice it gets easier to brown butter just right – believe me, I’ve burned my fair share (and boy does it stink).
The Canteen recipe adaptation comes courtesy of Francois Payard who has never let me down yet. If you ever wish to make French pastries and really want good recipes, I recommend any Francois Payard book. Payard Cookies is coming out November 2015 and I’ll be buying that one because, well, cookies.
Similar to Madeleines the Financier batter is refrigerated before baking for best results. Be sure to turn out the cakes on to the cooling rack as soon as they come out of the oven because they release easiest at that point, but they’re also the most fragile while piping hot so be gentle. Let them cool just until they can be picked up without burning your hand and eat them slightly warm. They are best served the day they’re made and that probably won’t be a problem given that they’re a little bit addicting.
Many recipes call for grinding whole almonds with the sugar. It makes for a more rustic cake that will contain more
grease fat than it needs. Blanched almond flour is a better choice for these. I buy this brand and keep it in the freezer and thaw just what I need for a couple of weeks or so. You can also refrigerate it and not worry about thawing. But keeping blanched almond flour with good (read: not rancid) flavor on hand is great for gluten-free baking (assuming you can eat tree nuts).
Here’s to those Sisters of Visitation. They certainly knew how to bake.
- 175 grams unsalted butter, browned (12 tablespoons)
- 110 grams powdered sugar, sifted (1 cup)
- 100 grams blanched almond flour (1 cup)
- 30 grams Canteen blend flour (1/4 cup) (see notes)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 extra large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- In a deep sided saucepan heat the butter over medium-low heat until it turns nutty brown, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan being careful to not burn it. Generously brush the openings of a 24-count mini muffin pan with the browned butter (little puddles in the bottom are great). Refrigerate the pan.
- In a medium bowl whisk together powdered sugar, almond flour, Canteen flour, baking powder and salt until combined. Stir in egg whites and mix thoroughly until blended and thick. Stir in the browned butter making sure to get all the browned bits and stir until the mixture is fully incorporated. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Cover the bowl and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Scoop batter into the chilled pan making sure each opening is a generous ½ full. Refrigerate while the oven finishes preheating if necessary. Bake 22-24 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Immediately turn financiers out onto a rack while the pan is hot. If they were buttered generously they should pop right out. If not you’ll have to rap the pan on the counter to loosen them.
- Cool on a rack (If you can wait that long). Best served the same day.