As with Bouchon Bakery’s Traditional Financiers, we’ve wanted to make the chocolate version for a while. Just for scientific inquiry, of course, not necessarily because we like things made of chocolate. So, we waited for just the right time, which was earlier this week, for our downtown walk. We like to make treats to bring down because most baked goods are always best the day they’re made, and, to be honest, we really can’t eat a whole batch of financiers, anyway. So, we get to have a few fresh ones to try, and we get to share some, too. Sharing always make them taste even better.
This recipe comes from Bouchon Bakery, by Thomas Keller and Sebastian Rouxel, and, as with all of their recipes, we’ll be listing ingredients by weight. Also, as you look through the photos, it’ll look as if this makes a lot of financiers, but, realize that we tripled the recipe we listed. We needed to make sure there were enough for people to enjoy.
If we hadn’t had some almond flour on hand, we would’ve ground up almonds in a food processor. After all, that’s what almond meal is, ground almonds. We will say that commercial almond meal has a finer grind, which is nice, but a food processor does a pretty good job, too. The secret of making financiers is the browned butter, though it may seem odd to brown 155g of butter to make 100g. But, this works out almost perfectly, because butter includes more than oil. There are water and milk solids, both of which are removed in the browning and straining process. For our triple batch, we browned a full pound of butter (455g); this resulted in just a tablespoon or two over the 300g of browned butter we needed. Finally, the cocoa and chocolate. Dutch-processed cocoa is darker and less bitter than standard cocoa — we used Valrhona cocoa. For the chocolate, we used Callebaut 70% bittersweet, and Baker’s unsweetened chocolate. We suggest the using the best chocolates you can, for the best-tasting financiers.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 425°F. If you don’t have a non-stick mini-muffin tin, apply a light coating of butter or baking spray.
Combine dry ingredients. First, in a large bowl combine the sugar and the flour. You don’t need to whisk them together — you’ll do that later — just get them both into the bowl. Now, break out that underused sifter that you have in the cupboard and sift in the almond meal. Almond meal is clumpy and has bits of almond in it, so definitely sift. Finally, sift in the cocoa; it, too, is clumpy, so run it through the sifter. If you’re measuring by weight, adding sifted ingredients is easy: put the sifter in the bowl set on the scale, press tare to zero the scale, and add the ingredients directly to the sifter. Then simply sift away. Finally, whisk all the dry ingredients together and set aside.
Brown butter. Key. Key. Key. Did we mention browning butter is key? Well, it is. Place the butter in a skillet, preferably a light-colored one, so you can monitor the browning and make sure it doesn’t go over the edge to burning. Start melting the butter over medium heat. When completely melted, start whisking. Continue whisking and heating — the butter will foam, then bubble, as the water is cooked off, and, finally, the milk solids and butter will darken — until the butter is a nice hazelnut brown. It’ll smell delicious, so good that you’ll want to use browned butter for all your baked goods. Once the butter is browned nicely, strain it through a clean piece of muslin into a small saucepan. It should be just about the perfect amount, although you can weigh as you strain just to make sure.
Melt chocolate. Add the chocolate to the still-hot butter and stir until completely melted and smooth. If needed, place back over medium heat to help the chocolate melt. Set aside.
Whisk in egg whites. Back to the dry ingredients. Make a well in the center and add the egg whites. Whisk the egg whites, gradually incorporating more of the dry ingredients. Continue until you have a thick batter. If needed, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and whisk again to incorporate any dry clumps.
Whisk in buttery chocolate. Still whisking the batter, slowly add the hot butter-chocolate mixture. Continue whisking until smooth and uniform.
Pipe. You don’t need to transfer the batter to a piping bag, but it does make it easier to fill the mini-muffin tins without making a mess. If you do, you want either a 3/8-inch tip, or, if you used a disposable piping bag (or zip-lock bag with the corner cut off), a 3/8-inch opening. Pipe (or spoon) about 1 1/2 tablespoons of batter into each opening, or enough to fill each cup to about 1/8 inch from the top.
Bake. Place the financiers in the oven and immediately lower the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. If you wish, it helps to rotate the pan front to bake halfway through to ensure even baking.
Cool. These little cakes crisp up just a bit while they cool. This is one of the reasons they’re not as good the next day; the crispiness goes away as the sugar absorbs moisture from the air. But, for crispy edges, use a sharp knife and run it around the edges of the financiers to loosen, then transfer to a rack to cool and crisp.
Delicious. Slightly crisp on the outside, still moist on the inside. Intense chocolate taste. All in one easy to eat bite. We thought these were nearly perfect, and it seemed as though volunteers liked them, too. But, if you give them away, don’t be surprised if people refer to them as “brownie bites” or something similar; just realize that these are probably the best “brownie bites” they’ve ever slung a lip over, and smile.