A frequent comment from people who meet my family for the first time will inevitably be about how much we like to talk about money. I guess it’s a natural consequence when almost everyone in the family works for a bank or some sort of financial services company. A typical dinner conversation will without doubt cover an analysis on the state of the global economy, a lively debate on whether interest rates are set to rise and by how much or a long-drawn out comparison between debt to equity ratios of Philippine and Australian Banks. We even joke that my nephew’s first words after Mum and Dad were Price Earnings Ratio.
There is a story my brother in law likes to tell. The first dinner he joined with the family we spent the first hour talking about the merits of investing in the stock market. After awhile he asked “is the stock market all you can talk about?”… a stunned silence fell over the table. We all looked at each other… and then spent the next hour talking about the merits of investing in the bond market!
So when I first heard about financiers, I was immediately intrigued. It sounded like a pastry that was probably invented by a French family similar to mine – always talking about money!
Financiers are almond cookies/tea cakes that are made from almond meal, butter, sugar and flour. They derive their name from the traditional rectangular mold which is supposed to resemble a bar of gold. Dorie Greenspan, who I got this recipe from, mentions in her book (Paris Sweets) that financiers were invented by a pastry chef in the late nineteenth century named Lasne whose shop was near the Paris Stock Exchange. He invented them so that they could be eaten on the run without a knife, fork or spoon and completely without risk to suit, shirt, or tie.
I unfortunately did not have the financier mold to use but a mini-muffin pan is perfectly acceptable.
The key to this tasty treat is the beurre noisette (burnt butter). That gives the financiers its rich nutty flavour. My tip is that you MUST WATCH THE BUTTER VERY CAREFULLY. There is only a few seconds between the beurre noisette and rancid black butter! To know when the butter is done, my tip is to wait a few seconds after the butter stops “bubbling” and you see bits of browned sediment at the bottom of the pan. Use a stainless steel pan, not something with a teflon coating, otherwise you won’t be able to see the sediments.
This recipe has been adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets.
- 180 grams unsalted butter (6 ounces or 1 1/2 sticks)
- 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
- 100 grams almond meal (1 cup)
- 6 large egg whites
- 90 grams all purpose flour
- Put the butter in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. Allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a deep brown, but don’t turn your back on the pan – the difference between brown and black is measured in seconds. Pull the pan from the heat and keep it in a warm place.
- Mix the sugar and almonds together in a large saucepan. Stir in the egg whites, place the pan over low heat, and, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, heat the mixture until it is runny, slightly white, and hot to the touch, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour, then gradually mix in the melted butter. Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the batter to create an airtight seal, and chill for at least 1 hour. (The batter can kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat the over to 200C (400F). Butter the molds (I think I managed to make 32 financiers with this recipe but can’t be sure if some people swiped a few while I wasn’t looking), dust the interiors with flour, and tap out the excess.
- Fill each mold almost to the top with batter (if using mini muffin pans a tablespoonful will do). Bake in the over for 13 to 15 minutes (book says 12 to 13 minutes) or until the financiers are golden, crowned and springy to the touch. If necessary, run a blunt knife between the cookies and the sides of the pans, then turn the cookies out of their molds and allow them to cool to room temperature right side up on cooling racks.
Note: Although the batter can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, financiers are best enjoyed the day they are baked.
- I added a blueberry on some of the almond financiers
- I substituted almond meal for hazelnut meal for one batch and mixed with nutella