Chow Town

Fancier: The French cake mistaken for pastry

If you thought a financier was a pastry, you wouldn’t be alone. But you’d be wrong. It’s actually a French cake that became famous in the financial district of Paris.

Some compare it to sponge cake because of its buttery, yet light, texture. But, to me, the two defining characteristics of financier are its distinct flavor that comes from brown butter and the texture it gains from the powdered sugar in the batter.

Brown butter is butter melted over medium heat until the butterfat and milk solids separate and sink to the bottom of the pan where they gently brown and begin to smell nutty. Powdered sugar and honey give the tasty illusion there is frosting in the batter.

My favorite thing about financier is that it’s easy to make, and the batter can be stored for up to three days. And it pairs well with berries of any variety in any season. I prefer tart berries like early-season black raspberries, blueberries and blackberries that turn sweet when cooked. A word of caution: use only fresh berries that will better hold their shape during the cooking process.

Traditionally made in a rectangle pan, I make mine bite-size in a mini-muffin pan. Alternate topping a pan of financiers with blueberries and strawberries for a festive Fourth of July treat.

Financier Batter 1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 cup almonds (I used whole, but sliced may be easier to process) 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar; additional for dusting
5 large egg whites 2 tablespoons honey (I used equal parts Agave Nectar) Nonstick vegetable oil spray To prepare:

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until browned bits begin to form. Continue to simmer, frequently scraping up browned bits at bottom of pan, until fragrant and dark brown but not burnt, 6 to 7 minutes. Scrape butter and all browned bits into a bowl and let cool for 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, process almonds and flour in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a bowl; whisk in powdered sugar. Add egg whites and mix until smooth. Fold in honey. Fold browned butter into batter (can be made 3 days ahead.) Cover and chill.

Arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Coat muffin cups with nonstick spray. Pour 1 generous tablespoon batter into each prepared muffin cup. Top with 3 or 4 fresh berries.

Bake until cakes are golden brown and just cooked through, 15 to 16 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.


The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen

Raised by generations of cooks, farmers and green thumbs, Andrea Shores is an enthusiastic eater and curious cook. She loves sharing her passion for local food by telling farmers’ and food purveyors’ stories.