If you have ever had the pleasure of standing in front of a long display case in a French bakery you know what an overwhelming experience it can be. Facing dozens and dozens of perfectly formed and decorated sweets of every shape and size and deciding what to choose can be daunting. As much as I admire all the perfect little works of art I love the small bites that aren’t overly fancy. One of my favorites is the financier, a small cake that is light and moist, similar to sponge cake, and usually contains almond flour and beurre noisette, browned butter. Financiers are baked in shaped molds, usually small rectangular loaves or in mini-muffin tins. The name financier is said to derive from the traditional rectangular mold, which resembles a gold bar….see the photo at the bottom of this post.
Financiers are surprisingly easy to make. Carefully measuring ingredients and browning the butter are the two crucial steps. If you have never browned butter you will find easy instructions HERE. The butter takes on a rich, nutty flavor as it browns and is a important component in many French recipes. I have built up a nice cookbook library over the years but I’m gradually getting rid of it as I find other more convenient recipe sources. However, I have added two books to my library this year in my attempt to become a better baker: ” Thomas Keller, Bouchon Bakery” by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel, and “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz. Both books are a treasure trove of information and stress the necessity of a digital kitchen scale for accurate baking. Thomas Keller urges readers to “Throw Out Your Measuring Cups.” Weighing ingredients is so much easier and provides so much more accuracy than measuring by volume. Once you try it you won’t measure ingredients any other way.
I love these dense little chocolate cakes. They are a bit crispy on the edges and soft and chocolaty in the center. They are best eaten within a day or two of baking or frozen for a later date. I took several out of the freezer last night and couldn’t wait for them to thaw. Even frozen they were delicious…almost fudgy in the center. I used mini-muffins tins for this recipe and it made 20 financiers.
Traditional financiers are made in pans that resemble gold bars…hence their name. I bought some silicone ones at E. DEHILLERIN last spring and they work very well…the cakes pop right out of the molds. I will share the recipe for these vanilla cakes very soon. They are made with almond flour instead of the hazelnut that I used in the chocolate cakes. If you don’t have hazelnut flour you can substitute almond for equally delicious results. The browned butter flavor is much more noticeable in the vanilla cakes. Fresh raspberries were placed on top of the cakes as they baked and became little dabs of filling. I hope you will try this recipe for one of the most popular sweets you will find in a French patisserie. You will be amazed by how easy a digital scale makes the preparation of the batter. It takes away all the guess work and the recipe turns out the same every single time…delicious.
recipe adapted from one found in Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery. I substituted hazelnut flour for almond flour and used 70% Vahlrona Chocolate.
- 120g granulated sugar (1/2 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoons)
- 20g all-purpose flour (2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon)
- 60g hazelnut flour (1/2 cup +1-1/2 teaspoons)
- 20g unsweetened cocoa powder (1/4 cup)
- 100g egg whites (1/4 cup + 2-1/2 tablespoons)
- 100g browned butter (1/2 cup)
- 20g 70% chocolate, chopped (0.7 ounces)
- 10g 100% unsweetened chocolate, chopped (0.4 ounces) substitute 70% if you don't have this
- chopped hazelnuts for ganish
- Spray 2 12-cup mini-muffin pans with baking spray.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Place the sugar and flour in a large. Whisk to combine well and break up any lumps. Sift hazelnut flour into the mixture, add cocoa powder, and mix well.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the egg whites and whisk them, gradually incorporating the dry mixture, until all the ingredients are well combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and whisk again. Place the brown butter and the chocolate in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring to melt the chocolate and heat the butter. A few seconds in the microwave works well for this but be careful not to overheat it. When the mixture is hot, just below a simmer, whisk it into the flour mixture.
- Spoon about 1-1/2 tablespoon batter into the prepared mini-muffin pans. Place the pans into the oven and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Immediately unmold the financiers and cool on a wire rack.