If there’s one recipe that brings me back to working in a pastry kitchen, it’s financier. Just saying the word is enough to flash back to those cold mornings when I’d put on a fresh, crisp chef’s coat, slip on my flour dusted clogs, and start my morning prep for tea service.
It’s hard to describe a bakery in the early morning. It’s at the same time both lonely and inviting. The cold marble table tops are clean and ready to temper warm chocolate. The ovens hum, the mixers stand at their ready, and the radio babbles on. In the other room, you’ll hear the occasional clang of pots and pans. Otherwise, it’s you, the ingredients, your to-do list, and a deadline a couple hours away.
There was a time I wasn’t even privileged to know the hotel’s financier recipe. I had to earn it. It was kind of demoralizing, actually. Here I was with two college degrees being spoon fed little tasks and only portions of a recipe at a time. It was like turning 18 you still have to sit at the kids table on Thanksgiving.
The process of becoming a trusted cook was a long and painfully slow one, but it had its rewards. One day I was tasked with unmolding the financier, another day I garnished them, and yet another I pulled them out of the oven. Eventually, I learned the whole recipe. I learned when to pull the browned butter off of the stove, how to efficiently bag up pounds and pounds of batter, and most importantly, how to carry enormous mixing bowls without walking funny.
Ultimately, the circle of life went on. The local culinary school spat out another round of interns that did a good job of getting in your way. The student became a teacher. And the financier recipe was passed on once again.
Caramelized Apple Almond Financier
- 6 oz almond flour or almond meal
- 6 oz all purpose flour
- 14 oz powdered sugar
- 10 oz unsalted butter, browned (see Browned Butter below)
- 4 oz egg whites
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 oz Caramelized Apple Purée, see below
- (optional) raw sugar for garnish
Yield: ~60 mini muffin cakes
Caramelized Apple Purée
- 1 medium to large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into thin slices (sweet apples like Fiji, Gala, or Macintosh work well)
- 1 T (14 g) butter
- 1 T light brown sugar
- Cut the apple into thin slices (thin slices cook faster)
- Mix the apple slices with the brown sugar
- Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over high heat
- Once the butter stops foaming, add the apple slices
- Sauté until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes
- Purée in a food processor until smooth
1. In a medium sauce pot, melt 10 oz unsalted butter over medium heat until the bottom of the pot has a golden brown sediment and the butter is an amber color.
Once the butter solids on the bottom of the pot start to get golden brown, it very quickly changes to burnt so don’t walk away!
2. Quickly pour the butter into a bowl and set aside. If you keep the butter in the pot, it will burn and give the cakes a burnt flavor.
- Combine the almond flour, all purpose flour, and confectioner sugar, then sift. (If you used almond meal instead of almond flour, discard the almond skins that don’t fit through the sifter.)
- Put the dry ingredients in a mixer, add half of the egg whites, and slowly paddle until mixed.
- Add the remaining egg whites and slowly paddle until mixed.
- On the lowest speed, slowly pour in the browned butter and mix until combined.
- Paddle in the apple purée until mixed well.
- Let the mixture stand at room temperature for at least 5 minutes to rest. Because of the water in the egg whites, the mixture developed some gluten. Letting it sit will make it easier to pipe or scoop and will allow the cakes to bake relaxed.
- Spray mini muffin tins or financier molds with pan spray.
- Scoop the mixture into a pastry bag and pipe into the molds until 3/4 full. Alternatively, use a small ice cream scoop or spoon.
- Sprinkle the tops with raw sugar.
- Bake at 350 until firm to the touch, about 22 minutes for mini 1″ muffin tins.
- Let the pan cool for a minute, cover the molds with a large towel, flip over, and tap the pan to turn them out. Don’t let the cakes fall much further than an inch or they’ll get smashed.
- Cool on a wire rack at room temperature. If you let them sit in the pan, your nice beautiful crust will get soggy from the steam coming off of the cake.
Store cooked cakes at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Uncooked batter may be kept for up to a week in the refrigerator. I recommend storing it in a piping bag or in a sealed container with plastic wrap over the top to prevent it from drying out.
It can be frozen and thawed in the refrigerator or in a water bath.