Saturday, March 11, 2006


All my recently acquired cookbooks have recipes for financiers, so I was naturally curious. I first tried an untraditional financier recipe: Apple Financier Tart from Francois Payard's Sensational Desserts. This was made in a 9" tart pan with a pastry crust, and had apple chunks sauteed in a browned butter and honey mixture underneath the financier batter. Being on a low-fat diet for the past month, I just could not justify using the amount of browned butter indicated in the recipe, and cut it down drastically. On top of that, I forgot to drizzle what little of it I used on the apples before I poured in the financier topping. The result --not so surprisingly-- was an unimpressing apple dessert. But if you follow Payard's directions in his book, I am sure that you will be pleased with the outcome.

Of course, I could not waste the forgotten browned butter and honey mixture. It was used to make an apple, raisin and toasted walnut filling. Stuffed inside the leftover puff pastry in the freezer from an earlier project, it made a quick and delicious dessert.

My second attempt at the financier (Nick Malgieri, Perfect Cakes) was a more traditional recipe, the only twist being the pistachios replacing the almonds. The leavening for financiers is whipped up egg whites, and like any other egg white-based dessert, oven temperature is somewhat crucial. I made these in mini muffin pans and baked them exactly 20 minutes like the recipe said. I think, however, that the insides could have been even softer had I taken them out a couple of minutes earlier... We concluded that the financiers were the more sophisticated distant couisins to muffins. They had a considerable amount of crust and a contrastingly soft, spongy interior speckled with tiny bits of pistachios. The color --a beautiful pale shade of green-- was also appealing. These tiny cakes will definitely make a nice accompaniment to tea or coffee. But if I had a few egg whites and almond powder to put to use, I'd rather make macarons than financiers.

Pistachio Financiers (from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri)
  • 1/2 c pistachios (2 oz.)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 5 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tbs kirsch or maraschino liqueur
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 4 egg whites
  • pinch of salt
  • Confectioners' sugar if desired
Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease and flour the insides of 2 12-cavity mini muffin pans. Process the pistachios and 3/8 c of the sugar until very fine. Mix in the flour. Melt the butter, stir in the flavorings and set aside to cool. (I browned the butter as I like the nutty taste.)

Beat the egg whites until they hold a soft peak. Add the remaining half of sugar gradually as you continue to beat the egg whites. Stop before the meringue is stiff. Alternately fold in the nut and butter mixtures, stirring after each addition. Use a spoon to fill the cavities of mini muffin pans 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Cool briefly, unmold, and serve with a dusting of confectioners' sugar if desired.