This recipe is adapted from From Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010). I didn't have the special little ingot-shaped rectangular molds that give these little Parisian cakes their distinctive shape, but Greenspan says mini-muffin molds will do. And so they did. I made some in a silicone tin and some in a regular nonstick aluminum pan. The metal one was preferable, giving the little cakes crisp gilded edges that contrast delectably with the moist, almondy interior.
I never buy almond flour, but I always have whole raw almonds in the freezer. You can't process raw almonds finely if they're at room temperature and you grind them by themselves — they turn to almond butter before becoming finely ground. But if you put them in the food processor frozen, and add the sugar or flour from the recipe, you can achieve a very fine grind. In this recipe, I simply grind them directly with the sugar.
Makes 18 to 20
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup almond flour
6 large egg whites
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
Financiers can be made with "normal" melted butter, but if you follow tradition and brown the butter, you'll give the cakes an extra layer of flavor. To make beurre noisette ("hazelnut" butter, so called for the scent of hazelnuts the browned butter produces), cut the butter into pieces, toss it into a small saucepan and bring it to a gentle boil over medium heat. Once the butter boils, keep a close eye on it — you want it to turn a golden brown. If you get a deeper color you'll get more flavor, but you have to be careful not to let the butter go black — something that can happen quickly. When you have the color you want (and perhaps the fragrance of hazelnuts), pull the pan from the heat and set it aside in a warm place.
Put the sugar and almond flour in a medium saucepan and stir to mix. Add the egg whites, stir, and place the pan over low heat. Again, never leaving the pan unattended, stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is slightly white, runny and hot to the touch. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the all-purpose flour, then gradually blend in the melted butter. Scrape the batter into a heatproof bowl and press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the batter. Chill the batter for at least 1 hour, or, better yet, overnight. (You can keep the batter in the fridge for up to 30 days).
When you're ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter 18 mini-muffin molds, dust with flour and tap out the excess. Place the molds on a baking sheet.
Fill each mold almost to the top. Bake the financiers for about 15 minutes. The cakes should be golden, springy to the touch and easy to pull away from the sides of the pan. Unmold the cakes as soon as you remove the pans from the oven. If necessary, run a blunt knife around the edges of the cakes to help ease them out of the pans. Transfer the cakes to a cooling rack and allow them to cool to room temperature.