Try this financier recipe when you are hungering for something decidedly French and a little different from the typical tea cake taste. I have classified them under French cookies because they are made in individually sized molds. They are really more like a cupcake perhaps, but that doesn't sound quite right. I put them in the same class as madeleine cookies.
The defining feature of this tea cake is its shape. You can make them in a muffin pan, but you will be missing out on the fun.
Try to guess why they are called financiers before I tell you . . .
It is because of their shape. They are formed to look like a brick of gold, called a lingot in French.
You can find a variety of financier molds made from different materials and slightly different shapes. Some of these seem a bit flat to me - the final result is supposed to look like a brick not a rectangular pancake. I measured my mold and each cavity holds 6 tablespoons.
If you decide to make these without the mold, no problem. A typically sized muffin tin will work fine as a substitute.
The financier recipe here is a very much in keeping with the classic interpretation, which is similar to a Visitandine cake. Made with almond meal and no leavening other than the egg white, these cakes have a dense and moist crumb.
Of course, you will find all kinds of things called financiers made from other sorts of cake batters, with different fillings, and even with different shapes. But there, people are really straying from the original idea.
These are substantial treats, and one would make quite enough for a snack I would imagine. If you wish to serve these for dessert, here is a great idea. Use the egg yolks left over from the recipe to make a crème anglaise and serve this with the cake along with some tasty seasonal fruit. Raspberries, peaches or blueberries would all marry especially well with the almond flavored cake.
Begin by preparing a muffin or financier pan. If you are using a silicone pan, there is no need to grease. If you are using another sort of material, grease the pan with some soft butter.
Measure the flour, powdered sugar, almond meal, and salt into a large mixing bowl and stir together until completely mixed.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add in the four egg whites. Use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients into a smooth paste. This takes a little elbow grease.
Place the butter in a small, microwave proof bowl and melt in the microwave on high heat. Watch this carefully. Butter melts very quickly in the microwave and you should stop it half way through and give it a stir.
Add the butter to the batter along with the almond extract. Carefully stir the batter until all of the butter is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
Place several heaping tablespoons of batter into each mold. They should be about 3/4 of the way full if you are using a financier pan, and a little less if you are using a typically sized muffin pan.
Place the filled pan in the preheated oven and bake at 400°F (200°C) for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and bake for five more minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the financiers in the closed oven for two more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to warm before releasing from the pan.
Financier Recipe Variations
Fillings: These cakes take especially will to having fillings added. Fill the molds half way, then add a tablespoon of jam, fruit or Nutella, before topping with another spoon full of batter.
Toppings: You can also top these with fruit or sliced almonds.
Chocolate: Personally I think this is going over board, but you can add in a handful of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate - for those who think dessert just isn't complete without a little cacao.