Financiers are Paris born and bred, invented at Pâtisserie Lasne, which was a favorite of the stockbrokers who worked at the nearby Bourse. The brokers, financiers, would rush in every day in search of a sweet and rush out, brushing little bits of it off their suits as they went. It was Lasne's genuis to realise that what his clients needed was a pastry the hurried brokers could eat without a knife, fork, or fear of telltale crumbs. What he created was a gold-ingot shaped cake that could be eaten on the run. That it was as rich as the brokers he made it for might have been done for his own amusement, but it's part of what has sustained the financier's place in the pastry hall of fame for well over 100 years.
- Dorie Greenspan
These are my newest favorite pastry to make; simple to put together and the right thing to pack up for work and pull out of your bag at 3 o'clock when you need protein and crave a sweet. They taste like heaven: dense with hazelnutty browned butter, almonds, and coconut.
For the batch pictured above I used ground pecans rather than almonds since that's what I had in the cupboard yesterday. The following recipe is an adaptation of Dorie Greenspan's, from Around My French Table.
1 1/4 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond or pecan flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
6 large egg whites
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon butter
100g very good quality dark chocolate, chopped
For the browned butter: cut the butter into small pieces and place in a small heavy-bottomed pan set on medium heat. Bring it to a gentle boil, keeping a close eye on it - you want it to turn a golden brown. The darker the colour the more flavor it will have, but be very careful not to let it go black - something that can happen very quickly. When you've got the colour you want (and the fragrance of hazelnuts), take the pot from the heat and pour it into a glass measuring cup, using a spatula to get all the brown bits. Set the butter aside in a warm place. Set the butter pan on the stove again, this time over low heat. Drop the teaspoon of butter and the chocolate in and, using a small whisk, continually stir the chocolate, letting it just about melt. Remove the pan from the heat, stir to fully melt all the pieces, and set aside.
Put the sugar and the nut flours in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir to combine. Add the egg whites, stir and place the pan over low heat. Again, never leaving the pan unattended, stir with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is slightly white, runny, and hot to the touch. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the all-purpose flour, then gradually blend in the melted butter. Using a large serving spoon take out about 3 spoonfuls of the batter, transferring them to a small bowl. Set aside. Add the melted chocolate to the batter still in the saucepan, stirring well to combine. Cover the plain and chocolate batters with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or overnight.
When you're ready to bake the financiers, set the oven to 400 degrees F and centre a rack in the oven. Generously butter 12 muffin cups and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Alternate the chocolate and plain batter, filling each cup almost to the top and smoothing the tops somewhat so the batter settles. Bake 15 minutes. The cakes should be golden, springy to the touch, and easily pull away from the edges of the pan. Unmold the cakes as soon as you remove the pan from the oven, running a butter knife around the edges if necessary. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. Financiers will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.