The golden, crispy-edged, and buttery French financiers were gobbled up so quickly that I barely had time to click photos. A good dose of almonds and butter keeps them supremely moist and tender. Whoever called them small vessels of joy the first time had it right. These elegant, tiny cakes hit you with their aroma before you even taste them.
Financiers are tiny, bite-sized French cakes, originally created by the nuns of the Order of Visitation in the 17th century. Back then, they were oval and called visitandines. It was in the 19th century that they were revamped and revived by a bakery near the Paris Stock Exchange.
The pastry chef of the bakery, Lasne, changed the shape of French financiers to a rectangle, giving them a look very familiar to traders: gold bars. Hence the name.
Ingredients for French financiers
Classic French financiers are made with just 6 ingredients: flour, eggs, butter, vanilla, sugar, and almond flour. But what you do with these ingredients matters a lot.
Why is brown butter important to financiers?
Before financiers, I never realized how much of a difference brown butter makes to a recipe compared to regular butter. It lends richness, depth, and complexity to flavors. So, don’t skip the step. You’ll love the characteristic nutty taste it imparts to these bite-sized cakes.
French financiers sound fancy, but the recipe is astonishingly simple because you’re using basic ingredients. That said, these classics do ask for some finesse. My suggestion? Invest in a weighing scale. You don’t need an expensive one, even a simple battery-operated scale will serve well. But it will make all the difference to the result, as you can measure each ingredient down to the gram.
Step 1: French financiers have a caramelly flavor that comes from the browned butter. So that’s where you begin. Place your butter in a saucepan and on low heat, cook it till the milk solids separate from the fat.
It’s quite like making ghee. When the butter has a deep amber color and you can smell that beautiful nutty aroma (about 2 to 3 mins), take it off the heat, strain, discard the solids, and let it cool.
Step 2: Sift together flour, icing sugar, and almond flour (or finely ground almonds). Whisk 2 egg whites into these dry ingredients.
Step 3: Gradually add your slightly cooled (but still liquid) browned butter in three parts. So, you pour in 1/3 and then whisk. Pour another third and whisk again. Then repeat for one last time.
Step 4: Finally, to the soft, dropping consistency batter, mix in vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste. Cover the batter and refrigerate for an hour.
Bake the brown butter French financiers
Step 5: Butter the cavities of your pan or mold. Grease them really well. Then pour a tablespoon of the batter into each cavity as evenly as possible (or you can pipe it). Keep in mind that these are teeny tiny, not full-sized muffins, so you don’t need much of the batter.
Step 6: At this point, you can bake these and enjoy classic French financiers. I decided to give them a Tasha Twist and make cherry financiers by plonking a pitted cherry right in the center.
Step 7: Push the cherry down gently, top it with 2 or 3 almond flakes, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
Step 8: Give the gorgeous almond tea cakes a minute to cool, then turn them out and serve! (If you butter your mold, the financiers will slide right out.)
Do I need a financier pan to make French financiers?
Classic French financiers look like gold bars, so they need rectangular molds, but don’t let that limit you. These almond tea cakes come in all shapes and sizes now. As wonderful as it would be, I couldn’t find a financier pan online and ended up using my mini-muffin pan, which made 12 of these cherry financiers. You can even use tart molds if that’s all you have.
How do you check if the cherry financiers are done?
When the financier cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, they’re done being baked.
How do you serve a financier dessert?
Financiers are utterly adorable and moreish, with their dainty proportions and subtle sweetness. I recommend serving them as-is. You may think they look plain, but the amazing flavor will say otherwise.
At the most, dust them with icing sugar, and they make the perfect foil for a cup of tea or coffee. But if you want to serve them as financier desserts, go ahead and experiment. They make an inspiring, rich, moist base for plenty of treats.
There aren’t any substitutes for the ingredients of French financiers, but they have a lot of room for toppings. Most people opt for fresh fruits like cherries, raspberries, and blueberries. You can even try apples and pears. The trick is to use a small piece so it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the almond French cakes. You could also add slivers of nuts like almonds or leave them out.
4 reasons to try the French financier recipe
Elegant tiny cakes
A super easy recipe
Nice, quick summer treat
If you love Madeleines but want a heftier, more serious dessert
French Financier Recipe
- 1/4 cup ( 60 gms) Butter
- 2 Egg whites Please use large eggs
- 3 tbsp (35 gms) All-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (50gms) Icing sugar
- 3/4 cup ( 80 gms) Almond flour
- 1 tsp Vanilla bean paste / Vanilla extract
- Cherries pitted and halved, Almond flakes for topping
- To make the brown butter – Heat the butter in a small saucepan, on low heat. The butter will be bubbly and foamy, and then will start to change color. Once its brown in color, take the pan off the heat and strain the butter into a small bowl. Let it cool. This process will take about 4-5 minutes.
- In a medium-sized bowl, sift together the flour and icing sugar.
- Add the almond flour.
- Now whisk in the egg whites. When your dry ingredients are moistened, slowly add the brown butter in 3 -4 increments, stirring well after every addition.
- Whisk in the vanilla bean paste or extract. Mix well.
- Cover the bowl with a tight-fitting lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 180C and butter the cavities of a mini muffin well.
- Place 1 -1.5 tablespoons of the batter into the cavities.
- Place half a cherry in the center and press it down slightly. Add an almond flake or two on top.
- Bake at 180C for 15-18 minutes, or until the financiers are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
- Let the financiers cool in the pan for a few minutes before taking them out on a cooling rack.
- Sprinkle some icing sugar on top and serve. Enjoy!