I've made a lot of custards lately. Ice cream, pot de creme, pastry cream, lemon cream. It means I have a lot of egg whites leftover. An egg white, which is 2/3rds of the egg's mass, goes a lot further than the one lonely yolk in the middle. Coming in as pure protein, the egg white is the structure, the 2X4's if you will, of anything you put it into.
In some cases, as with meringue, buttercream, dacquoise, Angel Food Cake, Pavlova, fish quennelles, mousse, semifreddo, nougat, marshmallow, a consomme raft, the egg white is the whole house on which a mere roof sits.
If you know the egg white, it can do great things for you.
If you understand who the egg white is, how important its role, its shining achievements, the death-defying acts of bravery and kindnesses it's capable of, then you are well on your way to scaling tall buildings in a single bound. Egg White on your side.
Financiere is one such example. Although you do not whip or whisk or beat the egg whites into another form (think Superman and the telephone booth), they are there with steadfast intention. Financiere is a cake, but just barely, well, most especially from an American point of view.
- For one, there is no obvious/chemical leavener.
- You do not cream butter and sugar at the beginning.
- The main binder is not flour.
- Flour plays more than the role of an extra, but not more than a stage hand.
- The flavor profile is written by the fat and underwritten by the "nut flour."
The financiere you have eaten before has most likely been one bite or two and has come into contact with you through the petit four course. Piped into tiny metal-canoe shaped molds, they are generally baked in high ovens, have a crisp deep golden/light chestnut colored exterior and a toothsome, almost chewy interior. The fad for a while has been to stick one small fruit in the top, for variance in flavor. Like madeleines, they are best eaten soon out of the oven, and should not be re-heated.
The average financiere is just that.
In my not-so-humble opinion.
The definition of financiere is a cake whose main "flour" is made of nuts. A rich cake, heavy with butter and nuts, two expensive items, is the reason for the name. A Banker's Cake.
Almonds are the traditional nut. And let's face it, blanched almond meal has almost no flavor.
Being the pastry rebel that I am, I like to mess with the traditional. I like to bring up (or bring back) the flavor. I make financiere with walnuts, coconut, cornmeal, hazelnuts, whole almonds, noyau, honey, very brown butter, and anything else with some spark, some dynamic personality.
I love almonds, don't get me wrong. But in the case of traditional financiere, or the ubiquitous French macaron, their role in the taste department is as stand-in. I know why almonds are used in these roles. They're buff, not too oily, not too flavorful, and can be ground into a meal without turning into a paste.
Unless, of course, you're making marzipan.
Did you know that almond extract does not come from almonds? Check it out. It comes from apricot "kernels," aka noyau. Have you ever been curious enough the hit a cherry pit/stone with a hammer, just enough to catch a glimpse inside the tiny hard casing? Would it surprise you if I told you I once did this all day to make one batch of cherry pit ice cream? Thank g-d Deanie and I figured out an easier way to do this at Manresa this time last year!
O yes. Coconut Financiere. I've served these on a number of plated desserts. The best thing to do is to bake the batter in a number of molds. Butter them all generously as financiere batter is notoriously sticky. If you are a skimpy butterer, chill ramekin, then butter it, chill again and put on another coat. Or butter (I do this with barely melted butter and a pastry brush) and then sugar the molds. I find I get an interesting exterior with sugars like Demererra or raw/turbinado, but you can try any number of others. When you see how the financiere changes depending on what your baking mold/vessel is made out of, how thick it is, the size, you can decide how you like it best.
It's all about the ratio. Of exterior to interior.
Coconut financiere would go nicely with coconut or another tropical fruit sorbet, candied herbs, roasted pineapple, tapioca, whipped cream, pink peppercorn pot de creme, lemongrass chiboust, warm chocolate sauce, butterscotch pudding, mango slices, ginger ice cream, star anise gelee... you get the point. It all depends if you like to pair fat with fat or juxtapose it against an acidic counterbalance. Please deconstruct or construct in a modern or postmodern way.
However you see fit.
DESSICATED COCONUT 175 grams
RAW/TURBINADO SUGAR 160 grams
SUGAR 70 grams
KOSHER SALT pinch
EGG WHITES 225 grams
MELTED (clarified) BROWN BUTTER, warm 90 grams
MELTED BUTTER, warm 110 grams
AP FLOUR 125 grams
You can make this batter in one large bowl with a spatula or a wooden spoon.
In a large bowl measure in coconut, sugars and salt.
Mix to incorporate.
Add all whites and mix to combine.
Add warm butters in a few stages, mixing thoroughly after each addition.
Sift in flour in three additions and fold to incorporate.
Batter needs to chill overnight before baking.
Preheat oven to 375F
Generously butter (& sugar) preferred baking vessels-- the smaller the better.
Fill baking vessel 1/2 to 3/4's full.
Place on baking sheet.
Set first timer for 15 minutes, turning pan around at this time and checking in on progress.
Bake until little cakes are dark golden and a skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. If you are going to under or overcook, err on the overcooked side.
These cakes like to be unmolded while they are still warm-to hot.
So let them rest for 10-15 minutes and then release them onto cooling rack.
Financieres are best the day they're made, but can be eaten 1- 2 days later, if kept at room temperature.
stop by anytime in the comments section to let me know you made them and tell us what you think!