A PERFECT CONCOCTION | Pecans, ground sumiyaki coffee powder and a shot of nespresso add subtle warm undertones to the traditional financier.
I love how baking brings out the perfectionist streak lurking deep within me. This Valentine’s day, me and my (single) girlfriends decided we’d get our hands dirty and do some baking.
To challenge ourselves, we set an ambitious goal to master the basic vanilla soufflé (which we managed to achieve). I also added another to our baking agenda for the afternoon – to recreate Ottolenghi’s famed Coffee Pecan Financiers that sells likes hotcakes at his restaurant NOPI in London.
Still missing Paris a lot, I was keen to make financiers again, but this time, I was set on making an adaptation of Ottolenghi’s Coffee Pecan Financiers from his well-known restaurant NOPI. Not too fond of anything too sweet, I reduced the icing sugar quantity by half and did away with the coffee pecan cream that often accompanies these little bars of gold.
Coffee and Pecan Financiers
TIME: one hour | YIELDS: Makes 12 financiers
- 100g pecans
- 150g unsalted butter
- 100g icing sugar
- 100g ground almonds
- 100g plain flour
- 65g malt powder (or Horlicks)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground coffee beans
- 8 egg whites (300g)
- 2 shots of espresso (60ml)
- pinch of coarse sea salt
- Roast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5. Spread the pecans for both the financiers and the cream out on a parchment-lined baking tray and place in the oven for 12–15 minutes, until they have taken on a bit of colour. Use the flat side of a large knife to lightly crush them. Set aside half of the pecans for the financiers and half for the cream.
- To make the financiers, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Once it starts to foam, cook for 3–4 minutes, until it turns golden-brown and smells nutty. Strain through a muslin- (or clean J-cloth-) lined sieve and set aside for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly.
- Place the icing sugar in a large bowl with the ground almonds, flour, malt powder, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and ground coffee. Mix together and set aside.
- Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk to form soft peaks: this should take about 3 minutes if you are whisking by hand and just 1 minute with an electric whisk.
- Fold the whites into the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the espresso. Next pour in half the browned butter, continuing to fold by hand as you pour in the remaining butter. Finally, fold in the pecans.
- Bake the financiers by preheating the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7. Grease mould of muffin tray or financier tray. Spoon in the mix until three-quarters full and bake for 10 –12 minutes, until the cakes are golden-brown on top and only just cooked through: a knife inserted should come out with a tiny amount of mix on it.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes, before removing them from the tray. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a cup of tea if desired.
BANANA-RAMA | Banana, desiccated coconut, and crushed walnuts unite to create a moist and wholesome financier.
I have truly jumped onto the financier bandwagon. This time, seeing I had two overly ripe bananas sitting inside my fruit bowl, rather than let them expire and go to waste, I decided to put them to good use by creating some banana financiers with desiccated coconut and crushed walnuts. The banana adds an extra degree of moistness and ‘stickiness’ to the basic financier recipe (not to mention flavor and fibre). And because bananas are naturally sweet, I’ve drastically reduced the sugar content by more than half (more or less to keep the waistline “trim”).
To make these financiers even more healthy, I’ve incorporated walnuts into the mixture. Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors. Walnuts also contain several unique and powerful antioxidants that are available in only a few commonly eaten foods. This includes the quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, and the flavonol morin.
One of the lesser-known benefits of walnuts is their impact on male fertility. Among men who consume a Western-style diet, adding 75 grams (a bit over one-half cup) of walnuts daily significantly improved sperm quality, including vitality, motility, and morphology.
Afternoon tea? Serve these freshly baked financiers with a cup of warm or organic tea.
TIME: 30 minutes | Makes: 12 financiers
- 125 grams of butter, melted
- 2 ripe bananas, mashed
- 70 grams dessicated coconut
- 50 grams almond flour
- 70 grams plain flour
- 50 gram walnuts
- 6 egg whites
- 50 grams of icing sugar
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (350 degress farenheit). Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat until it browns. Brush some of this butter on to the financier mould or muffin tin. Leave remaining butter to cool at room temperature.
- Mash ripe bananas in a shallow dish.
- Crush walnuts into small pieces in a mortar and pestle.
- Whisk egg whites in a separate bowl. Once done, add melted butter into the mixture.
- Combine all the almond flour, plain flour, icing sugar, crushed walnuts, and desiccated coconut together in a separate bowl. Fold in the egg white mixture into the flour mixture and continue to fold until well combined.
- Pour batter into the financier moulds, until 2/3rds full each. Bake in oven for ~16-20 minutes until golden brown.
- Turn financiers out on a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar. Serve warm or at room temperature. Financiers can be stored in an airtight container for several days.
PISTACHIO-LICIOUS | A combination of pistachio, blackberries, and a dash of banana gives these financiers a touch of the extraordinary.
Since having left Paris not too long ago, I’m still going through a financier-crazed phase. This time I wanted to go real lush and experimented with blackberries, pistachios, and a smudge of banana.
Once again, the key is getting the beurre noisette (hazelnut butter in French) right in order to achieve that nutty flavour that makes a financier so distinctive and sets it apart from the ordinary muffin.
For those who aren’t aware, financiers are basically what I consider to be “baller” teacakes. They were so named because they were so “rich” (both in ingredients and in price) that only financiers/bankers could afford to eat them. The cakes were rich with brown butter, shaped into a gold bar, and made small and crumbles for portability – perfect for a busy banker.
Egg white, almond meal, and beurre noisette are the key fundamental ingredients that constitute the basic financier. After that, you are free to experiment at your whim and add any addition of fruits, nuts and/or spices.
For me, financiers are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of earl grey team come five o’clock. Simply relax and unwind with a good book. What’s more, tie two financiers together with a cute ribbon and voila, you will have a perfect treat for a special friend or special someone.
Simply tie two financiers up in a stack with a ribbon and it’ll make for a perfect gesture of love.
Total time: 30 minutes | Servings: makes 6
- 125g butter
- 90g icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
- 1 tablespoon of mashed banana
- 1 punnet blackberries
- 60g almond flour
- 60g plain flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 freshly grated lemon zest
- 50g pistachio (shells excluded)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius (or 180 degrees celsius if fan forced). Then prepare the beurre noisette by melting the butter on a pan over medium high heat till it turns amber in colour and smells nutty. After a few minutes, you will see specks of brown bits. Remove from heat and let it cool.
- In the meantime, with a grater, freshly zest one lemon.
- Grind pistachio into fine crumbs using a mortar or pestle (or if you are more high-tech and have a food processor, opt for that instead). I purposely left some pistachios semi-grinded only so that I could get more texture.
- Mash a portion of a ripe banana to yield ~1 tablespoon.
- In a large bowl, mix pistachio flour with the almond and plain flour. Add in remaining sugar, cinnamon, mashed banana, and lemon zest.
- Separate egg yolks from egg whites. Place egg whites into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt and two tablespoons of sugar. Whisk egg whites with an electric mixer until frothy.
- Spoon 1/3rd of the egg white mixture into the flour batter. Fold with spatula until just combined. Repeat process with remaining egg white being careful to fold only and not over mix.
- Coat berries lightly with flour. Then add to the batter and fold.
- Spoon batter into buttered financier moulds (or muffin tins). Fill each mould with the batter until about 2/3rds full. Press any remaining blackberries on top of each financier (for aesthetic appeal).
- Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes. Financiers are done when they turn golden. Remove from oven and place on cooling rack for 10 minutes. Dust with icing sugar to serve.