Note: This recipe appears in our Gilded Fork: Entertaining at Home cookbook.
One of the most popular little French cakes, perfect financiers are also one of the most addictive. Beautiful in their simplicity, financiers are typically made from a combination of almonds, powdered sugar, flour, lightly whipped eggs and a generous quantity of melted butter, which the French have named Beurre Noisette. The butter is cooked until golden brown and acquires a wonderful nutty aroma. However, this recipe offers an intriguing twist on the classic, with rosemary infused butter and corn flour. With firm, crusty edges and a luscious rosemary-kissed almond interior, these tender cakes are irrestible.
Makes about 12 large or 24-36 miniature cakes
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 large sprigs of rosemary, cut in half
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup almond flour or finely ground blanched almonds
1/3 cup finely ground corn flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg whites
Financier baking molds
Handheld or electric stand mixer
Medium non-reactive metal saucepan
Pastry brush or non-stick baking spray for buttering molds
Preheat oven to 400 ° F. Grease the financier molds with melted butter or non-stick baking spray.
Place 1/2 cup butter and rosemary in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted let it come to a boil; as it boils you will notice that a foam will appear on the surface. Continue to cook the butter, whisking every so often, until it looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan. At this point, the butter will begin to take on a nutty aroma as it turns a lovely brown color rather quickly. Whisk continuously to prevent the brown bits from sticking to the bottom of the pan, as these contain most of the flavor, until the desired dark brown color is achieved. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately strain to remove the rosemary. Set aside and let cool to room temperature before using.
[Chef's Note: If you omit the rosemary from this recipe, there is no need to strain the brown butter. Just transfer it into a new bowl to allow for faster cooling.]
In a large bowl, whisk together the corn flour, almond flour, powdered sugar and salt. Place the egg whites in a separate clean bowl and whisk until frothy and light. Fold the lightly beaten egg whites into the dry ingredients and mix until an even paste forms. Using a handheld beater or the whisk attachment of an electric stand mixer, gradually add the browned butter, mixing after each addition on medium speed until the butter is completely incorporated and the batter emulsified.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pans, filling them about 2/3 full. Bake in the preheated oven until the cakes are golden brown and begin to pull away from the edges of the pan, about 10 minutes for miniature molds and 15 minutes for larger cakes. Cool in the pan for about 5-10 minutes, and then serve warm.
A dusting of powdered sugar on the warm cakes is an optional, and lovely, garnish. These are best when served warm from the oven, but will keep fresh for about 3 days when stored in an air-tight container. If they aren’t devoured immediately, that is.
Cake flour can be substituted for the corn flour; and another nut flour, such as hazelnut, can be substituted for the almond flour. Press a raspberry or blackberry into the center of each mold for a fruity twist. Also try infusing other herbs, spices or vanilla beans in place of the rosemary when making the Beurre Noisette.
Recipe and photo by Monica Glass