Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Financiers

Financiers are little almond cakes made with browned butter. They were invented in France in a bakery in the financial district of Paris, and are often served for tea or at the end of a meal on a plate of little cakes.  This was one of those baking experiences for me that started with an enticing description and ended with something very disappointing (except for my dog who is always willing to taste anything).  The final result- tasted ok, but I would say, boring.  I tried to compensate with a dot of chocolate ganache on each one for that peanut butter/chocolate combination, but it was still not the taste I had expected or hoped for. It was, as they say, a learning experience.

Financiers au Beurre de Cacahuetes ( Peanut Butter Ingots) from Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum
¾ cup (75 grams) sliced unblanched almonds
10 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (150 grams) confectioners sugar sifted and lightly spooned into cup and leveled off
½ cup (57 grams) all-purposed flour (sifted into cup and leveled off)
4 large egg whites at room temperature
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, preferably Jif

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in the middle of the oven. Spray financier mold with baking spray with flour. If silicone, place it on a wire rack on a cookie sheet. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and bake them about 7 minutes until pale golden. Do not overbrown.  Cool completely.

Grind the cooled almonds with the confectioner’s sugar in a food processor until very fine, making sure all the almonds are processed to a fine powder. Pulse in the flour.  In a bowl of a mixer, using the whisk beater, beat the egg whites at low speed until just foamy. Add the almond flour mixture and beat on low until incorporated.

 Clarify and brown the butter. Put a fine mesh strainer over a heatproof glass container next to the stove. In a small heavy saucepan, heat the butter over low heat until melted.  A white foam wil accumulate on the surface. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the milk solids turn a deep brown (approximately 250 degrees).   Watch carefully to prevent burning.  Immediately pour the butter through the strainer into the heatproof measuring cup.  You will have about ½ cup of butter.  It must be hot when added to the batter so if you make it in advance, it must be warmed up before adding to the batter.

Drizzle in the browned butter (beurre noisette) to the batter on medium-low speed. It should take about 5 minutes so that the mixture can emulsify into a smooth golden cream.  Add the peanut butter and mix for a few seconds, just until fully incorporated.

Fill the molds about 2/3 full. You can do this with a spoon or pipe using a pastry bag. If you do not have enough molds to bake all at once, refrigerate the batter for a minimum of one hour or up to overnight. Let it come to room temperature before filling the molds and baking.  Bake for 15-18 minutes until the financiers spring back when pressed lightly in the center (I used a mini financier mold, and baking time was about 9 minutes).  Let cool and remove from molds.

As I said, I was disappointed with the taste of these- although they are bite-size and cute. The taste was lackluster, even with a dab of chocolate ganache. ((post by susan))

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