9 June 2019

Roasted Fig and Aniseed Financiers

I think the humble little financier is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated pastries. I am often guilty of not giving this little gâteau more love — it is never at the top of my mind whenever I am thinking what to bake or what I should order at the bakeshop. I think I started eating financiers without knowing I was eating a financier — it often came unexpectedly with my mid-day café allongé and part of a petit fours plate at the end of the meal. The unexpected treat was always a delightful treat despite not fully knowing what it was. All I knew when tasting these little cakes was that how they are not just any other cake. Enriched with nuts, leavened with egg whites, and moistened with brown butter, they are a bit denser and richer than what we would normally associate with 'cake.' They come in different sizes, shapes, and even flavours but the classic almond financier in a rectangular shape remains the most popular. I would totally geek out over the history of the financier if I could (you can read more about them here in this NYT article!)  but I will not do so today because this post's purpose is not just to celebrate the financier but also to celebrate something even more exciting.

Today's financier recipe is brought to you by Marie Asselin's new book French Appetizers! Marie's beautiful cookbook is a collection of recipes that are perfect to serve when you are hosting a cute little soirée and to be honest, I would not even think twice about hosting a financier party. Imagine if every guest was ask to bring one type of financier (which would make this a financier potluck!) and what you do all evening is taste and discuss all the variants of this little cake! Marie's financier recipe, which yields the most heavenly fig-studded almond cakes, is not the only recipe I dogeared when I first flipped through it. I cannot wait to make the gruyère and hazelnut sablés, the savory palmiers, and the tapenade and parmesan madeleines. My plan is to tackle all the savoury baking recipes first before I make my way over to the drinks and small bites. I cannot wait. Congratulations on another wonderful book, Marie!

PS. I shared the recipe for Marie's dairy-free lemon bars a year ago. Find the recipe here!

Brown Butter Fig Financiers
From French Appetizers by Marie Asselin
Yields 24 financiers

Roasted Figs
6 plump figs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1.2 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon crushed aniseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large egg whites

Roasted Figs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Quarter the figs and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and gently mix to combine.

Spread the figs over the prepared baking sheet, making sure to brush any leftover sugar over the figs. 

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the figs are soft. Set aside to cool while you prepare the financiers.

Reduce the heat to 350F. Line the cups of 2 muffin pans with parchment paper cups or heavily grease assorted mini tart tins.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter until completely melted and bubbly. Reduce the heart to medium and keeping simmering, swirling the pot from time to time. If the butter bubbles up, preventing you from seeing the colour changing, lift the pot from the heat for a few seconds until the bubbles recede; return pot to the heat. The butter is ready when the milk solids at the bottom of the pot turn brown and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Pour the brown butter into a bowl, making sure to scrape all the caramelized bits, and let cool while you prepare the batter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flours, sugars, aniseeds, and baking powder together. Add the egg whites and whisk until they are fully incorporated. The mixture will be thick and sticky. Whisk in the brown butter.

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into each prepared muffin cup. Set 1 piece of fig onto each financier. Bake for 12 minutes, until the financiers are golden brown on the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy baking!

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