A lightly crisp top, a moist center and a subtle nuttiness are what make financiers a refined French staple. With seasonal berries and crisp almond slivers, the Blueberry Almond Financiers are one of their iconic summer twists.
Originally oval, these small almond cakes were invented in the middle ages, by the Visitandine order of nuns, from the city of Nancy in the Lorraine Region. Made from egg whites and ground almonds, these dainty small cakes – then known as “visitandines”- were a good source of protein, addressing the banning of meat in the convent.
Much later, in the 19th century, Chef Lasne brought these small cakes back to his little pastry shop located near the Paris Stock Exchange. He had the genius idea to reshape the little cakes into little “bars of gold”, to attract the financial district crowds and bank workers looking for a snack that could easily be stored in their pockets without crumbling.
And thus the re-branded “financier” (meaning, a Financial district worker) was born.
I like to think that baking these Blueberry Almond Financiers is quite easy, when you acknowledge that there is no room for improvisation. These little wonders, very delicate both in texture and flavor, require very precise proportions and steps. Nothing difficult really, but just follow the directions closely.
And to guide you with this, here are a few of my notes …
The almond flour – Almond meal is a highly perishable commodity. Make sure you get it fresh, and use it as soon as possible.
The brown butter – or as the French call it “beurre-noisette”, meaning hazelnut-butter– is the shining feature here. It gives the little roasted notes that make financiers so unique and delectable.
How to make brown-butter?
In a small sauce-pan, melt your butter over medium-low heat, keeping a close eye on it. Let it come to a slight slimmer. Watch it become golden. Right when the melted butter stops bubbling, remove it from the heat and pour it into a cold bowl to stop the cooking process. (if you think you’ve over-cooked or burnt the butter, do not overthink it. Dump it and start again. Burnt butter is terrible for your health).
Sifting – Don’t skip on sifting together the icing sugar, flour and almond meal. It will truly make a difference in creating lighter and airier financiers.
Vanilla – The vanilla works magic here. It goes just as perfectly with the brown butter as with the blueberries. But the vanilla can easily be replaced by almond extract or even citrus zest, if you prefer.
Temperature – Your egg-whites must be at room temperature and the melted butter still warm when you add it into your mixture at the end.
The molds – If you can’t get your hands on an authentic financier mold pan, you can also opt for a mini-loafs pan (which is actually what I did for this batch, and it turned out perfectly!), or even a mini-muffins pan.
Baking steps – For these little financiers, the different steps of temperature in the baking process are truly essential. The first 6 minutes (at 450F) will quickly scorch the outsides of the financiers, creating the signature crispy exterior. The second 6 minutes (at 400F) will smoothly continue baking the financiers. The final 6 minutes (oven off) will ensure the financiers are baked all the way through, without over-baking them, creating their signature creamy insides.
I hope you enjoy these dainty little Blueberry Almond Financiers as much as I do. Bon appétit!
Blueberry Almond FinanciersPrint This
1/3 cup butter (76g)
¾ cup icing sugar (94 g)
¼ cup all-purpose flour (34g)
1 cup almond flour (100g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons slivered almonds
In a small sauce pan, melt your butter and brown it (see detailed instructions above), and transfer it into a small bowl to stop the cooking process.
Preheat your oven to 450F.
Sift together your icing sugar and flour, and then the almond flour. Add in the vanilla extract and the egg whites (as is, non-whipped) and mix until just incorporated (do not overmix!). Add in the brown butter (still warm), and mix again until just incorporated.
Fill your financier molds half way with the batter. Poke in 3 blueberries and a sprinkle of slivered almonds on each financier.
Bake for 6 minutes at 450F. Lower the temperature to 400F and bake 6 more minutes. Turn off your oven and leave the financiers in for 6 more minutes.
Take out, place pan on a cooling rack and let the financiers cool completely to room temperature before removing them from the molds.