Some would say that one good turn deserves another, and my husband and I would have to agree! Living in a new neighborhood exposes you to a whole variety of new experiences, different people and random acts of kindness you might not necessarily expect from perfect strangers. Jeff lives only a couple houses down from us and has take it upon himself to use his camouflage ATV to clear the snow from the street we live on whenever the snow falls. I thanked him one day while shoveling the snow from our driveway and he cheerfully told me that he does it for fun and to simply be outside.
From that first major snow fall, it never fails that we see Jeff out and about clearing the snow and making it much easier to get in and out of our street then if he had decided to forgo the coveralls and cold to watch American Idol. Like I said before, one good turn deserves another and we couldn't let Jeff's good deeds go unnoticed! Cue a fresh batch of financiers! (And if anyone should ask, I bake for the fun and to simply be in the kitchen!)
Gather these items:
1/3 cup beurre noisette*
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour or ground blanched almonds
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
blueberries (or any other fresh berry or fruit that suits your fancy,
fresh or frozen)
* I will get to this later...
Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Place the almond flour, or blanched almonds, on a baking sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the whole almonds/flour from the oven and let cool. If you are using the whole almonds, process until finely ground.
Increase the oven temperature to 4OO degrees. Now we'll get to the beurre noisette! In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt 1/2 cup of butter over medium low heat. Once the butter has become liquid, let it come to a boil. As the butter boils, you will notice that a white foam will appear. Continue cooking the butter until it becomes clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan. These solids will turn dark brown, indicating that they taste absolutely delicious with a hint of nutty-caramel flavor... seriously, this browned butter is good enough to drink, or at least drizzle over popcorn or fresh pasta. I'm drooling just thinking about the possibilities! Remove the butter from the heat and allow to cool while you make the rest of the batter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the all purpose flour, ground almonds, confectioners' sugar and salt. Fold in the lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla and 1/3 cup of the beurre noisette. With the remaining beurre noisette, grease a 12 mold financier pan, (and if you don't have a financier pan, a mini-muffin tin or individual tart pans will work just fine.) Just an idea, I save a little extra beurre noisette to brush on the cooling cakes before I eat them all, (in my dreams.) Divide the batter amongst the 12 molds and bake for 4 minutes. (This baking sets the batter before you add the fresh berries and prevents them from sinking to the bottom of the mold and sticking to the pan.) Remove the financiers from the oven and top each with a handful of fresh fruit. Return the pan to the oven for an additional 6 - 10 minutes or until the edges have become a delicious brown and the cakes are springy to the touch. Once done, remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. If you saved any remaining beurre noisette, using a small pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the financiers with a little of the carmel-speckled butter.
These little bricks of gold are best enjoyed while still a little warm, and at the very least, the same day they are made, so eat up, share with a friend, or send some over to the neighbor who keeps clearing the snow off the driveway!
Just a point of interest, it is commonly thought that Financiers attribute their name to the traditional Financier mold which looks an awful lot like a brick of gold. Other sources say that these small tea cakes are named after the French financial district where they were often served during lunch hour. Either way, these little cakes are a delicious treat worth their weight in gold!
Adapted from Stephanie Jaworski's Financiers with Raspberries