Financiers – pronounced fee-nahn-see-yay – are dense, moist almond cakes that have similar ingredients to macarons, but which also contain a good dose of melted butter to lend a rich flavour. This recipe is both for a (mostly) traditional financier pastry, and also one with a Nutella filling. I loosely based the proportions of ingredients from this French recipe, and was also inspired to use confectioner sugar instead of granular sugar, making it more like a macaron than ever.
I learned about the history of financiers here. Apparently their origin dates back to 1890 when a pastry chef named Lasne invented this recipe to please the tastebuds of bankers who were searching for tasty little treats that could be bought ready-made. (Bankers can afford this sort of thing. In fact, financiers means banker – or financial dude.)
Apparently, at the beginning (after Lasne?), these pastries were made in an oval form (which means you can use mini muffin tins to make them and not be too far off), and were made by an order of nuns called “Visitandine.” They are still called by that name in some pâtisseries, but it’s not common. My husband had never heard of them by anything other than financiers.
Then the Suisse discovered them and wanted to make their own version without being accused of plagiarism. So they made them in the form of bricks of gold. Which gives them the shape in which they are recognised today. The best news? They are so easy to make, and so tasty.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter your mold. I didn’t do this and many of my Nutella financiers didn’t come out whole. Which meant there were many failed ones I needed to “try.” This recipe makes 50 mini financiers, and about 20 normal-sized ones.
Beat 5 egg whites with a pinch of salt until they’re stiff. And add 2 cups of confectioner sugar.
When you’ve beat that all together, add 1 3/4 cups ground almonds, 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour (I used gluten-free, which works very well with recipe but you’ll want to really make sure you grease the mold because it sticks together less well than regular flour. You can also add 200 grams (or 1.75 sticks) of melted butter before mixing it all together.
Add 1/4 teaspoon of bitter almond extract, and the inside of one vanilla bean. You slice it open and scrape out the seeds, like so.
And then your batter is ready to be baked! After you’ve greased the mold, spoon the batter into the compartments. I left some of them only half-full so I could add a Nutella filling.
I made half of them with Nutella, and topped them with more batter.
Here they are, ready to go in the oven (for better or worse). I you want a more professional look, you can get one of those gadgets that pours the batter more evenly into holds. The spoon technique makes more rustic looking pastries.
Since silicone molds are so floppy, I recommend putting baking sheet underneath them so you can easily put in the oven. I put them in for 8 minutes on one side, and turned them around for an additional 5 minutes. Your oven might be different so use that as a suggestion, but make sure they are evenly cooked and don’t get too brown.
And here they are. See the rich, moist texture with the beautiful vanilla bean specks?
Here are some with Nutella filling and some plain.
And here they are again with coffee, because … well duh.
What else are you going to do when you have a plate of warm financiers?
- 5 egg whites + pinch of salt
- 2 cups confectioner sugar
- 1.75 cups ground almonds
- .5 cups plus 1T flour (gluten-free or regular)
- 200 g or 1.75 sticks melted butter
- 1 vanilla bean - scraped for seeds
- .25 t almond extract
- Nutella optional
- Beat the egg whites with pinch of salt
- Add confectioner sugar and mix
- Add all the other ingredients and mix
- Grease financier mold and add batter
- If adding a Nutella filling, put bottom layer of batter, plus Nutella layer, plus another layer of batter.