Financier Almond Cakes
The little cakes are called Financier, because they taste so rich - just like a banker! There's French humor for you.
I've tested several recipes, but the one contributed by Patricia Wells in Epicurious, best matches the ones found in Parisian pastry shops.
I started making this recipe with my daughter when she was four years old. She would be responsible for mixing everything and supervising the measurements. Then we would both sit in the kitchen waiting for the timer to go off...things the childhood memories are made of.
2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, melted, for buttering 21 financier molds
1 cup (140 g) finely ground almonds
1 2/3 cups (210 g) confectioners sugar
1/2 cup (70g) unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup (185 g) egg whites (5 to 6)
3/4 cup (6 ounces; 185 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I would recommend slightly browning the butter)
Preheat the oven to 450°F(230°C).
With a pastry brush, use the 2 tablespoons melted butter to thoroughly butter the financier molds. Arrange them side by side, but not touching, on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet with the buttered molds in the freezer to resolidify the butter and make the financiers easier to unmold.
In a large bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, and salt. Mix to blend. Add the egg whites and mix until thoroughly blended. Add the 3/4 cup butter and mix until thoroughly blended. The mixture will be fairly thin and pourable.
Spoon the batter into the molds, filling them almost to the rim. Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven. Bake until the financiers just being to rise, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to 400°F(205°C). Bake until the financiers are a light, delicate brown and begin to firm up, about another 7 minutes. Turn off the oven heat and let the financiers rest in the oven until firm, about another 7 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the financiers cool in the molds for 10 minutes. Unmold. (Note: Wash molds immediately with a stiff brush in hot water without detergent so that they retain their seasoning.) The financiers may be stored in an airtight container for several days.
Traditionally financier cakes are made using molds that resemble a gold brick. However, I've successfully used other silicon molds. But you might have to adjust for time, as you don't want them too soggy.
The above recipe is a base to which you can add other flavors. How about raspberry jam to turn them pink? Or replace almonds with pistachios for a beautiful green hue and pistachio nuttiness. I've also had some with green tea or earl grey hints. With a recipe so basic and good, it's pretty fun to experiment and find your favorite flavor...or two.