By Susan Pagani, Communications Director
Every year I ask my pal Maria what she'd like in the way of birthday cake, and every year she challenges me with something new -- chocolate, triple-layer white cake with fruit, etc. This year, she asked for the very simple yet very tasty fig financier.
Financiers are small French cakes traditionally made with a rectangular
mold, so named because of their resemblance to bars of gold. The one I made was delightful with fig, but any fruit will do; in the following recipe, we use raspberries. You can find the hazelnut flour at Mississippi Market in St. Paul. The butter becomes very nutty in the process of browning it, which combines with the flour to create a light, nutty little petite four that is lovely at breakfast or at tea in the afternoon -- or with a fat dollop of whipping cream at dessert.
Adapted from a New York Times recipe
Makes about 9 cakes, depending on the pan
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), and additional for greasing the pan
155 grams confectioners’ sugar (1 1/4 cups)
56 grams hazelnut flour (1/2 cup)
40 grams all-purpose flour (1/3 cup)
Pinch of salt
4 large egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 pint raspberries, rinsed and drained
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a small saucepan, melt butter, letting it cook until it turns nut brown and smells toasted, about 5 minutes. Pour into a heatproof bowl and let cool. (Do not scrape up any black bits from the bottom of the pot.)
3. In a large bowl, combine sugar, hazelnut flour, all-purpose flour and salt. Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and set on low speed (or use a whisk and a strong arm), beat in egg whites until flour mixture is damp.
4. Add butter and beat on medium-high speed (or vigorously by hand) until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla. At this point, the batter can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.
5. Butter and flour nine 1/2-cup muffin cups or Madeleine molds. Divide batter between cups and top each with three raspberries.
6. Bake until financiers are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly pressed, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack before unmolding.