Financiers got their name from being sold in the financial section of Paris in the 19th century and as such are often shaped to look like gold bars. However they have been around for far longer and were previously called visitandines after the order of nuns by the same name who were believed to create the little cakes in the middle ages.
These little cakes, called friands in Australia and New Zealand, are often cooked in various forms that can sometimes be too uniform and become cupcake or cake like – a habit we Americans seem set on based on the state of the muffins, biscuits and cornbread. However traditional financiers are very moist in the center, almost like an almond paste while the outside has a delicate eggshell exterior.
Part of making financiers is making “beurre noisette” which simply means browned butter, but translates exactly to hazelnut butter, isn’t that lovely? It’s a simple, yet very useful ingredient for nutty, deep flavor in recipes. The hazelnut part refers to the color, as well as the nutty scent given off by the butter when it is ready. Beurre noisette can be used in sweet dishes such as madeleines, financiers, crepes and more, as well as in savory dishes such as a sage and butter sauce for gnocchi, and for picatta sauce for chicken, fish or grilled vegetables such as romaine. Once you “noisette” your beurre, you may just keep doing it!
In research of financiers, oven temps and times vary so wildly, one would think there are entirely different desserts being discussed. Below is the very satisfying test we performed.
There are alternates for heating at everywhere from 325 to 450, and some with multiple temps, adding fruit half way through, drizzling lemon and confectioner’s sugar to soak into the top as they come out of the oven and as always one or two versions that call for making the batter and refrigerating for a day – those monsters!
Please, by all means try variations, especially while so many fruits are in season, these little cakes are well worth some attention and variation. We plan on quite a few, including what seems a simple transition to gluten free versions, stay tuned!
Sweet Cherry and Almond Financiers
1 cup unsalted butter
6 egg whites
1/2 cup flour
1 cup ground almonds (or almond flour)
1 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon almond extract
18 Pitted dark sweet cherries, chopped in half (for 3 halves per cake, use more or less as desired)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, allowing it to melt, it will then start to bubble and the milk solids will settle to the bottom of the pan, the butter will start to foam when the solids have turned golden brown, and you smell a distinct nutty scent. At this point remove the butter from the heat. Strain or separate the butter to leave the browned bits behind. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to drop in temperature before beginning the batter.
Whisk the egg whites just a bit to loosen them, add almond flour, sugar, salt, extract, browned butter, and finally flour mixing until just incorporated to limit the gluten from toughening the cakes.
Use any remnants of melted butter to brush muffin tins – or official financier mold if you’re fancy. Drop the batter into cups or molds, using about ¼ cup of batter per cake.
Add cherry halves to top of each cake.
Bake for 15-18 minutes until a cake tester / knife / toothpick comes out clean.
Let the financiers cool for another 5 minutes in their tins / molds before turning out.
Top with confectioner’s sugar prior to serving.