Financiers are light and spongey cakes traditionally made from ground almonds (or almond flour), brown butter, flour, sugar and egg whites, and date back to the 17th century. The French pastry chef Lasne re-popularised them in 1890 by giving them their current rectangular shape, which resembles a bar of gold as they were especially popular in Paris’ financial district.
For this recipe, I’ve chosen to make Philippe Conticini’s hazelnut financiers. In this recipe, he substitutes the traditional almond flour with hazelnut flour; you could however make the exact same recipe and use almond flour instead if you prefer hazelnuts.
Financiers are know for their distinctive nutty flavour. In his recipe, Conticini recommends the following in order to boost the nutty aroma even more:
- Toast whole hazelnuts and grind them into a flour using a food processor.
- Use brown butter instead of regular butter (how to make it is explained below)
Financiers are easy and quick to prepare. If possible, prepare the batter in advance and let it rest overnight in the fridge. This will allow the flavours to harmonise and the batter to firm up, making it easier to pipe into the tins.
- 155 g (1⅓ cups) icing sugar (or powdered sugar in the US)
- 110 g (1 cup) ground hazelnuts
- 110 g (1/2 cup) butter
- 155 g egg white at room temperature (about 5 eggs)
- 55 g (1/2 cup) flour
- 1.5 g fleur de sel
- ½ vanilla pod
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360 F).
- Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and toast in the middle of the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until lightly coloured and the skins are blistered.
- Remove the hazelnuts from the tray and place on a kitchen towel to stop the roasting and let cool. Close the kitchen towel and rub the hazelnuts to remove the skins. Transfer the hazelnuts to a food processor and grind them into a powder.
- Melt the butter over a medium heat while continuously stirring. Once melted, continue to cook the butter for a further 3-4 minutes: it will start to bubble and foam. Continue to stir. At this point, the butter will begin to change to a light brown colour. At the same time, you will start to smell a nutty aroma. As soon as you do, take the pan off the heat and transfer the browned butter to another bowl to stop the butter from cooking.
- Sift the icing sugar, ground hazelnuts and flour into a mixer bowl.
- Add the egg whites, vanilla extract and vanilla seeds. Mix on a medium speed until homogenous. While still mixing, add the still hot brown butter into the batter and mix until combined. Chill the batter overnight in the refrigerator.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 170°C (338F).
- Pour the financiers batter until into financiers moulds (or mini cupcake pans) until about ¾ full. Cook for between 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the mould. The financiers should no longer be wet, and should feel springy to the touch, and look puffed up and golden.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, remove the financiers from their tins.