Financiers: French Almond Cakes

Financiers are miniature almond cakes with crisp edges and a soft interior flavored with nutty brown butter. Financiers are traditionally baked in rectangular molds to make them look like gold bars. It seems like no one is quite sure if they get their name from their shape, or if they get their name and shape from their target clientele. Purportedly, financiers were sold to bankers in the financial district of Paris who were looking for a sweet treat tidy enough not to risk staining their suits.

As it turns out, financiers are actually a centuries-old confection made by the nuns of the Order of the Visitation since the Middle Ages. They made a cake called visitandine with nuts, egg whites, and brown butter, much like today’s financier.

Financiers became particularly popular around the stock exchange in Paris in the 19th century when a baker named Lasne started selling them on Rue St.-Denis. It was Lasne who most likely started baking them in molds shaped like gold bars and changed the name to financiers to attract the attention of the bankers passing by.

plate of financiers
  • Save

How to Make Financiers

Financiers are low effort, high reward. They’re not that challenging to make, but there are a few things you can do to ensure success.

Start with the brown butter first, so it has time to cool slightly before adding it to the batter. To make the brown butter, slowly heat the butter in a light-colored saucepan over medium-low heat. Using low heat helps keep you in control of the toasting, as browned butter can very quickly turn from perfectly golden to black and astringent. And using a light-colored saucepan makes it easier to track the color as the butter browns.

At first, the butter will boil, evaporating most of the water. Afterwards, the butterfat will start frying the milk solids, initiating the Maillard reaction. When the milk solids are golden brown and fragrant, take the pan off the heat and let it cool.

When mixing, be careful not to overbeat the batter. Mixing activates the gluten in the flour and if the gluten is overworked, the financiers’ interior will be tough and rubbery instead of soft and springy.

Be sure to rest the batter before baking, preferably several hours. The flavors will meld together and the batter will firm up making it easier to transfer into the molds.

Financiers are typically baked in special molds to make them look like gold bars. But, they can be baked in any small mold, like a muffin tin. I used a rectangular silicone mold, but in hindsight I would suggest a metal pan. The metal will do a better job of browning and crisping the edges.

The cooking time will need to be adjusted based on the mold you decide to use. Keep an eye on the edges, they should start to brown. And they’re done when a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Financiers are best eaten the day they’re baked, after that the texture begins to deteriorate. But I don’t think you’ll have much trouble finishing them.

close up of financier cake
  • Save

Ingredients:

Yields 12 cakes.

MetricCups
115g unsalted butter

100g almond flour
125g confectioner’s sugar
30g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup almond flour
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

3 egg whites

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Brown the butter:

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Using a light-colored saucepan will help you gauge the color of the butter as it browns. Once the butter is melted, swirl the pan occasionally to brown evenly. As soon as the milk solids at the bottom of the pan turn a deep golden brown, take the pan off the heat to cool slightly.

Sift together the dry ingredients:

In a large bowl, sift together the almond flour, sugar, flour and salt.

Stir in the egg whites:

Pour in the egg whites and use a whisk to stir just until blended.

Pour in the vanilla and brown butter:

Pour in the vanilla extract and the brown butter and gently stir until combined.

Chill:

Cover and chill the batter in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or overnight.

Preheat the oven:

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).

Prepare the pan:

Grease 12 financier molds, or mini muffin molds, with butter and dust lightly with flour. Tap out the excess flour. If you’re using silicone molds, you don’t need to grease them.

Divide the batter:

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 molds. They should fill the molds about three-fourths of the way full. 

Bake the financiers:

Bake the financiers for about 15 minutes at 190°C (375°F), or until lightly golden around the edges and a skewer inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. The time will have to be adjusted according to the mold you use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.