A financier is a small French cake, often mistaken for a pastry. The financier is a light, moist teacake, similar to sponge cake, and usually contains almond flour, crushed or ground almonds, or almond flavoring. The basis of the cake itself is beurre noisette (brown butter), egg whites, powdered sugar and flour. Financiers are often baked in shaped molds. The name “financier” is said to derive from the traditional rectangular mold, which resembles a bar of gold. Another theory says that the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding La Bourse du Commerce (the former name of the Paris stock exchange).
Financiers are often served topped with powdered sugar, whipped cream, berries, or other fruit, and served accompanied by ice cream or other frozen confections. Financier pans are traditionally rectangular; however, other shapes are not uncommon.
Makes 12 cakes
1¼ cup flour
1¼ cup powdered sugar
1 cup ground almond meal
¼ tsp salt
4 egg whites
6 oz unsalted butter
1 tsp almond extract
Preheat oven to 400°F.
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 for 15 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350°F 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.
Fillings: These cakes take especially well 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.