in between my attempts at making puff pastry, i got so frustrated that I had to make something easy. and, a way to use up my 5 egg whites leftover from making creams. So I turned to my favorite book for inspiration, Grand livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries.
And in it, on page 365, I found the perfect recipe. Financiers.
250 g almond powder
250 g sifted flour
750 g powdered sugar
625 g egg whites
625 g brown butter
Such simple materials, such lovely results.
But.. brown butter? What's that? I'd never heard of it. So I did some googling, and found out it was just butter that had been heated until it turned brown (surprise, surprise) and had a nutty smell. That's exactly what I did. Except, I may have burned it as there were particles near the bottom. But I used them anyway as I love the taste of burnt things :D
I sifted together the almond powder, flour, and powdered sugar into a bowl. (I highly suggest never sifting almond powder by itself. It tends to clog up the seive, so life is much easier when you sift it at the same time with sugar or flour.) Then I gradually folded in the egg whites in about three parts. Then I added the brown butter once it had cooled a bit, along with a bit of vanilla extract.
The texture was like a thick molasses. It couldn't hold it's own shape as a solid, but it definitely wasn't runny runny. It just moved s-l-o-w-l-y. I poured and scraped it into a ziplock bag in a bowl so i could pipe it later, and then refrigerated it.
Once cooled, I piped it 3/4 full into little pineapple cake molds. But any mini loaf pan, or cupcake holders, or anything small, will do. Make sure to butter the sides for easy release! Then I topped it off with a whole almond.
About 10 minutes later in a 410F/210C oven, these little babies popped out!
And they were delicious! I like them because they have a crusty outside texture that contrasts against the soft and chewy inside. Yum yum! (actually the real reason is because they are perfect for using up extra egg whites!)
I also love them because of the amount of variation one can do. They can easily be turned into hazelnut financiers, or jam can be stuck on top instead of a nut, or a different extract... just a few ingredient swaps, and you will have something tasting completely different! But hopefully delicious as well. Check out this site for really awesome inspiration for changing up the recipe. It is in French but the pictures say a lot :)
And a history lesson on the origin of the name financier. According to here, financiers were created in the 1890s by a patissier named Lasne who wanted to make a pastry to satisfy the taste buds of men working in finance which would not leave them with dirty hands. It also seems financiers were at first oval shaped, but when some Swiss nuns of the visitandine order decided to make them, they changed the shape to the gold bullions to avoid being accused of plagiarism. So some patisseries still call them visitandines. Rectangular and color of gold, financiers are enjoyed with a cup of tea, or in my case, milk! (I hope I translated the article correctly... my French is not perfect, so if I misinterprted anything from that site, please tell me!)
In english, I think we just simply call them teacakes.