Confession #76: I’m Dreaming of France… Apricot Financiers
What’s pretty magical about food is the way that it can transport you to another place. The other day I stopped by a local Parisian cafe, and as I sat there eating my Nutella crepe and eyeing the other menu choices – pain au chocolat, croissants, macarons – I really felt like France was at my fingertips. If I can have an amazing crepe here, thousands of miles away from France, I just know that the food there must be extraordinary. That’s one reason (and a big one, I must admit) why I’m thrilled that in a few short weeks I’ll be in Paris myself, surrounding by authentic French cuisine. For now though, I think I’m subconsciously trying to get my France fix at home, not just with crepes, but also with these Apricot Financiers.
I feel a bit ashamed to admit it, but a few months ago, I didn’t even know what a financier was. When I first saw them, I wrongly assumed that they were basically muffins, simply because they’re sometimes baked in muffin tins. These beautiful little teacakes, which are traditionally made in rectangular, bar-shaped molds, are actually quite different from a muffin, and so much more unique. Made with beurre noisette (brown butter), almond meal, and egg whites, they are far from your typical muffin (or cake) and amazingly good. Before trying them, I figured they’d be good, but I didn’t really understand why everyone makes such a big deal about them. With my first bite, my doubt was gone; in fact, I quickly devoured a whole one right out of the oven – something I seriously never do.
These financiers have a really moist, nutty, almond-y crumb, more like a cake than a muffin, that comes packaged in a more firm, golden-brown crust. I topped them with very thin slices of apricot which add just a touch of contrasting tang to the sweet cake. They’re gluten-free, extremely light, and so easy to eat! If you’re like me, dreaming of France, or if you’ve never had a financier, I highly recommend that you make these. Otherwise, you won’t quite understand how good they are, and really, that would be a shame.
These Apricot Financiers are full of moist almond flavor and topped with thin slices of fresh, tangy apricot.
1 tablespoon butter, melted, for brushing pans
1/2 cup butter, cut into tablespoons (1 stick)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup almond meal or ground almonds (sifted and measured after grinding)
1/2 cup rice flour*
3/4 cup caster sugar or finely ground granulated sugar**
5 egg whites
6 small apricots, pitted and sliced thinly, or 1 scant cup thin apricot slices
Preheat oven to 450 F. Brush 12 muffin cups in a standard-size muffin tin with melted butter, coating bottom and sides of each cup. Place the muffin tin in the freezer, allowing the butter to solidify again, until ready to fill and bake.
Place the cut butter in a heavy-duty pan over medium-low heat and allow to melt, whisking frequently as butter foams, develops a nutty aroma, and turns golden brown, with small brown specks forming on the bottom of the pan.*** As soon as the butter gets to this point, remove from heat and place on a cool surface for 5 minutes. Whisk in almond extract.
While butter is cooling, combine sifted ground almonds/almond meal, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir together on lowest speed just until evenly combined. Add egg whites and mix in, again on lowest speed, just until evenly combined.
Pour the browned butter into the mixer, including the brown specks at the bottom, and mix in at second speed until all ingredients are smooth and evenly combined.
Divide the batter equally among the 12 prepared muffin cups (each should be filled about halfway). Arrange apricot slices carefully on top.
Bake the financiers for 7 minutes, at which point they should have risen and puffed up. Reduce the heat to 400 F and bake for an additional 7 minutes, so that the financiers are turning golden on the edges and firming up on top. Finally, turn off the oven and leave the financiers in for about 7 more minutes, until they are firm and spring back to the touch.
Remove the financiers from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy immediately, storing leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
*You should be able to substitute all-purpose flour for the rice flour, although the financiers will no longer be gluten-free.
**To make the granulated sugar finer in consistency, simply grind in a coffee/spice grinder for about 10 seconds, until fine but not powdery.
***It's easier to use a lighter-colored pan when browning butter so you can see these dark specks, but if you don't have one, scoop a bit onto a white spatula to check.