Pear Financiers – The End Result
Father’s Day week was probably the most hectic time in the kitchen for me to date. A friend of mine had asked me to bake a few desserts for a bridal shower she is hosting for her friend. I made Fresh Fruit Tart, Pear Macarons, Cheesecake with Berries and Pear Financiers (I’ll post about the other items later here on the blog). Not too long ago, I posted an entry here about my Financier experiments. I wanted to report back and share the final product of my tweaks and edits.
Financier is a delicious itsy-bitsy cake originating from France made with beurre noisette (I’ll get to this in a second). They were first baked in rectangular molds to mimic small bars of gold as this was created in a patisserie near the financial district in Paris to lure execs and financial authorities. Nowadays, these are baked in any small tins. Muffins tins will do, or even barquette molds. I like to be traditional and bake these in rectangular tins but the legit ones are very, very expensive. So I settled with my mini muffins tins.
I love how these dainty cakes are easily dressed up to your liking. You can add dollops of jam, top a slice of fresh fruit before baking, jazz up with a drop of extract, or sprinkle them with sliced almonds like I did on my first experiment. The full flavor of financiers come from the browned butter or beurre noisette. I’ve talked about browned butter here before with my Browned Butter Cupcakes entry. Beurre noisette literally translates to “hazelnut butter.” Noisette or hazelnut, refers to both the color and the fragrance of the finished product. As the butter is cooked over medium heat, the milk solids in the butter brown and caramelize giving it that nutty flavor and smell.
The theme of the bridal shower was “perfect pair,” so it was just fitting to add a little “pear” twist to my financiers. I’ve explored a handful of methods before settling with the one that worked for me. In the last financier post, I tried whipping egg whites and confectioners’ sugar together before adding the rest of the ingredients. This was my least favorite method. I mean, the cakes turned out moist and yummy but after attempting other methods, I realize the cakes were a bit dense compared to the other ones made using a different approach.
The other method that I am mostly familiar with is to combine all dry ingredients together (confectioners’ sugar, powdered almonds, flour) in a bowl and making a well in the middle. Egg whites that have been lightly frothed up are added into the well together with the browned butter and mixed until it forms a smooth paste. This technique is the one preached at the pastry school I went to, Le Cordon Bleu.
The last method is Dorie Greenspan‘s stove top technique as published from Paris Sweets, Great Desserts From The City’s Best Pastry Shops. Believe it or not, this style of financier-making worked out the best for me. The ingredients are heated through in a saucepan over medium heat before baking. The cakes turned out really springy, delicate and moist.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book, Paris Sweets, Great Desserts From The City’s Best Pastry Shops. I incorporated some steps in here that I did to make my Pear Financiers different and pear-y. Also, this recipe uses granulated sugar instead of confectioners’ sugar. Makes up to 60 financiers using mini-muffin tins.
12 ounces unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
14 ounces granulated sugar
7 ounces ground almonds (or take slivered almonds and process in a food processor with a bit of powdered sugar until powdery and fine)
12 large egg whites
6 ounces all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons pear extract
Pears (Bosc or red Anjou) sliced into small triangles or small squares
Pear juice from 1 canned pears in 100% juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1. Place the 12 ounces of butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until golden brown in color and fragrant. Be careful not to burn the butter. Set aside to slightly cool. Note: You can add a vanilla bean to the butter as its browning for extra flavor. I skipped this step because I didn’t want the vanilla to compete with the pear extract.
2. Take about half of the ground almonds and place in a parchment-lined cookie sheet and toast for 5 minutes in an oven preheated to 350° F. This gives the financier an extra nutty flavor.
3. Combine the sugar and almonds together in a medium saucepan. Add the egg whites and place the pan over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Heat the mixture until runny and hot to the touch (this took me about 4-5 minutes). Off the heat, stir in the flour, then gradually mix in the browned butter.
4. Add the pear extract and mix to combine. Transfer the batter to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the batter and chill for at least 1 hour. (The batter can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days).
5. Meanwhile, have the oven ready preheated to 400°F. Then grease your molds or place paper liners, if using, into your mini-muffin tins. Once batter is properly chilled, transfer into a piping bag to pipe batter into the molds. Or a spoon will do if you don’t want to be troubled with the piping.
6. Fill each mold just almost to the top with batter. Top the batter with sliced pears. If you are using individual tins, place them on a baking sheet for easy transport in and out of the oven. Bake the financiers for 13 – 15 minutes, or until they are light brown and springy to the touch. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before turning them out to cool in a rack.
7. While the financiers are cooling, take all the pear juice from 1 canned pear and transfer into a small bowl. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and then add the canned pear juice. Stir the brown sugar. Cook over low-medium heat until it becomes slightly thick and syrupy, about 6 – 7 minutes. Brush the slightly cooled financiers with this warm pear juice glaze.