We’ve wanted to make these for several years now. Not necessarily from this recipe, but, for some reason, we liked the idea of financiers. Just as we like the idea of making canneles. It’s one of those things that just appeal to us. If we had to guess, we might say that it’s because they seem to be the epitome of a French pâtisserie. Just a little sweet bite, made from a few high-quality ingredients and some key technique that, we, in the United States, skip over with a corresponding loss of flavor.
So, why didn’t we make them before now? We’re really not sure — they’re not difficult, and there’s certainly nothing in the ingredient list that we don’t normally have on hand. And, it’s not as if we haven’t thought about making them from time to time, but we just never did get around to baking up a batch until now.
As you might guess from the title, this recipe comes from Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.
Only a few ingredients, so use the best you can. Try for fresh eggs from those free-range hens raised by your neighbor. Offer to trade some financiers for a few. Once they taste them, they’ll think it was a good deal. For the almond meal, we had some that was already ground, but not enough, so we did grind a bit more by placing almonds in a food processor and whirring for a few minutes. Finally, the butter. We know you’re tempted to skip the browning part and just go with melted butter, thinking that it’ll eliminate the straining, make measuring more difficult, add a pan to the sink full of dishes, etc. Don’t. It’s worth it, and, as you start smelling the butter as it browns, you’ll know why.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 425°F. Move a rack to the middle position in the oven. Butter a 24 cup mini-muffin pan and place in the refrigerator for the butter to harden while you make the batter.
Sift dry ingredients. Sift together the sugar, flour, and almond meal. This is mainly because the almond meal can clump up, and you need to break up these clumps. Plus, if you grind the almond meal yourself, some of the bits will be too large and you’ll need to eliminate those, too. Once sifted into a medium bowl, whisk everything to make sure the ingredients are well-mixed. Set aside for now.
Brown butter. Place butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. If you’re only making the browned butter for this recipe, remember that you’ll need to start with about 155g, or 11 tablespoons of unsalted butter. Why? Butter is not just butterfat. There’s water that’ll get cooked off, plus milk solids that brown and are strained out. As the butter cooks, the milk solids will start to brown; when you see that happening, start whisking slowly to keep the particles suspended in the butter. Keep cooking the butter until the liquid is a golden, nutty brown, then strain through several layers of cheesecloth, or a single layer of butter muslin. Finally, measure out the correct amount of the hot browned butter.
Add egg whites. Getting back to the dry ingredients, make a well in the center and add the egg whites. Whisk until combined and smooth, but slightly stiff.
Add browned butter. While whisking the batter, slowly add the browned butter by drizzling it in. The batter will become smooth and glossy and smell (and taste) delicious.
Fill pan. Use a spoon to scoop batter into each cup in the mini-muffin pan, filling the batter to about 1/8 inch from the top.
Bake. Place the pan on the middle rack, immediately lower the temperature to 350°F, and bake for about 20 minutes, rotating from front to back halfway through, or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool. Once baked, remove the financiers and place on a wire rack to cool completely. The outside edges will crisp slightly while the interior stays moist. Eat the day they’re made.
We brought these down for some fellow volunteers at an event this past Saturday, and they seemed to be well-received. At least they were all gone by the time we left for the day — which is always what we want, no leftovers — and they got rave reviews, so we were very happy with the way the financiers turned out. When we tasted one, we thought they were great, too: slightly crisp on the outside, a slight caramel taste, and slightly moist in the center. And, while we might never be able to keep up with a pâtisserie, in terms of quantity, we think that these come close to the quality we’d expect. Five stars.