So it turns out there’s only so much mischief a girl can get up to sandwiched between boxes and a mountain of paperwork associated with moving. It’s only another nine days before I join the boy in the big smoke, and there seems to be a lot to get sorted. I like challenges, but it’s clearly madness to move cities, start a new job, and plan a wedding all in a matter of weeks. Right now, the simple instructions in a recipe are my only relief from tricky decisions on multiple fronts.
Financiers have always been a favourite of mine. Petite and sweet, and very rich. The story goes that they were named after their rich ingredients—almonds and butter—and the wealthy patrons who enjoyed eating them in the financial district of Paris. Originally, they were baked in small pans, their shape akin to gold ingots. History aside, Martha Stewart and Pierre Hermé provided the inspiration I was looking for this afternoon.
It’s definitely the melted butter, with a touch of honey, that makes this dessert unique; the butter creates a slightly crisp top and edges, while sweetly soft inside. The beurre noisette is made by cooking butter for 7 or 8 minutes, until it turns brown and smells of hazelnuts. A small saucepan or pan will suffice. The butter bubbled and smelt delicious.
At this point Martha Stewart recommends a generous serving of honey; I halved the amount and whisked away. The result is shiny and rich.
The rest of the recipe is rather simple. First, thoroughly mixing the dry ingredients, then adding eggs whites, one by one; and finally slow pouring in the butter mixture. (The batter can be made ahead, covered, and keep in the fridge for 2-3 days before baking.)
With the butter added, the mixture was glossy and ready to cook. My baking equipment doesn’t extend to the traditional rectangular shaped moulds, so I settled on a mini-muffin tray. Butter the tray, or molds if they’re not nonstick or otherwise blessed with magical powers, then pour the batter in each individual mold, filling it up just to the rim. Decorate with a raspberry or two for colour.
Depending on oven type and mould size, these can take between 10 and 18 minutes. I stood near the oven, marvelling at the smell, while watching them brown and rise.
After just 12 minutes, they were golden and fluffy, and ready to come out. They should be left to cool, for about 3 minutes. The butter should prevent any sticking, but just in case, run a small blunt knife around the edges to help unmold the cookies.
I ended up making about forty; if only I knew a banker or two to fill with these delicate, nutty morsels!
Recipe, adapted from Martha Stewart
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup honey
2 cups ground almonds
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 large egg whites
1 cup raspberries (fresh or frozen)
Preheat oven to 170C. Butter mini muffin trays and place in fridge.
Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking frequently, until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add honey, and whisk until combined. Remove from heat.
Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine almonds, sugars, flour, and salt on low speed. Raise speed to medium-high, and add egg whites, one at a time, beating after each addition until just combined. Reduce speed to low, and add warm butter mixture in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to high, and beat for 45 seconds.
Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each a little over halfway. Decorate with two raspberries.
Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until edges are golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Let the cakes cool slightly in tins on wire racks. Carefully unmold financiers (using a blunt knife to help, if required), and transfer to rack.
Financiers are best served warm or the same day they are baked, but they can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.