I love macarons. But I hate them....for their temperamental, finnicky ways. You never know what you're going to get with them.
But why am I talking macs, when the recipe title says Friands. Well, these are the perfect counterpoint to finnicky macarons. Why? Well because Friands (to Australians; Financiers to the French delicious cakes to the rest of the world) play host to the very same set of ingredients as for the Mac, with none of the angst and fear and as much elegance and tastiness.
The Financier originated in Paris (as do most good things, I daresay) created in the late nineteenth century by a pastry chef named Lasne, who had a shop on the rue Saint-Denis near the Bourse, the city's stock exchange. Lasne clients were rich, discriminating and always in a hurry, so he designed his little unglazed cookie-cake so that it could be eaten without a knife, fork or spoon and without risk to suit, shirt or tie. It was an early and classy form of fast food, according to Dorie Greenspan.
But Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini says 'some say (financiers were called that) because they included almond powder and butter, pricy ingredients that only bankers could afford and others say it is because in the traditional shape they look like gold ingots, and are hence favored by rich people.
I, Oz of Kitchen Butterfly adore the caramel, nutty, slightly crisp and slightly chewy top and edges, with the sweet, soft fruit-studded base.
They are best eaten on the day they're baked, preserving all of the contrasting textures in the top versus bottom. As the batter can keep for up to three days, you can have these freshly baked. Daily. —Kitchen Butterfly
- Makes 12 heart shaped financiers/friands
175g unsalted butter
3 whole star anise
175g demerara sugar
175g ground almonds, plus extra for dusting moulds
6 large egg whites, (about 180 g)
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon microplaned orange zest
36 - 48 small, frozen raspberries
36 white chocolate chips
1/3 cup flaked almonds, roughly crushed by hand
- MAKE THE BEURE NOISETTE: Put the butter in a small saucepan. Let it melt and then bring it to the boil over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally. As it boils the top will become foamy. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids have dropped to the bottom of the pan and have turned deep brown. The butter should smell nutty. Remove from heat and immediately pour through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Add 1 star anise to the strained warm butter and allow to cool to room temperature. Make a powder of the other 2 star anise by blending in a spice grinder. Set aside.
- TOAST THE FLOUR: Place the almond flour (meal) on a baking sheet and bake for 6 - 8 minutes at 200 degrees C or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool down.
- MAKE THE BATTER: Make the batter by whisking the egg whites and a pinch of salt till the egg whites become a touch frothy. Remove 3 tablespoons of the browned butter (For greasing the pans) and add the rest with the almond flour, sugar and a pinch of ground star anise to the eggs. The batter will thick - don't worry. Allow to rest in the fridge for four hours or overnight. Note that you can refrigerate the batter for up to three days.
- TO BAKE: Preheat the oven to 160 degrees centigrade. Then grease mini muffin tins, financier moulds or cookie tins with the beurre noisette or plain melted butter then dust with flour and tap out the excess.
- Stir in the microplaned orange zest to the mixture along with the chocolate chips, whisking well to combine. Fill the moulds with the batter about 3/4s full as the cakes will rise. Stud with 3-4 raspberries and sprinkle over the crushed flaked almonds over the top.
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 12 - 14 minutes or till the friands/financiers are golden, puffed up, springy to the touch with slightly crusty edges. They should still feel a touch soft.
- Allow them to stand for a few minutes once out of the oven. Loosen the edges and bottom with a rubber knife or small spatula and then remove to a rack to cool completely. The bottoms have a tendency to be a bit sticky when still warm, so you may want to put them upside down on the rack, or put them on a sheet of parchment paper.
- Enjoy with a nice cup of mint tea! Or coffee.
- Variations: Cherries; Chocolate, with the addition of cocoa powder, Matcha (green tea), Chopped nuts and dried fruit......And on and on and on.