The Great Cupcake Extravaganza, Part Financier

20 06 2010

Fortunately, it turns out that the easiest cake in the French repertoire is also one of the tastiest.  I mean it.  In terms of the effort-to-reward ratio, this is absolutely one of the best recipes I know.  We make a version of this at work, for use as the base of a more complicated entremet, and had I known before just how little effort this involved, I would have started making it at home a long time ago.

Sifting the powdered sugar and cocoa powder

Financier is a classic French bakery treat, traditionally baked in little rectangular molds that are supposed to represent bars of gold.  The name means “banker,” which is either a reference to said shape, or the supposedly expensive ingredients that go into it.  I’m more inclined to believe the former explanation, because when have egg whites ever been considered a luxury item?  Usually it is made with almond meal, brown butter, powdered sugar, and the aforementioned egg whites.  This one has cocoa powder sifted in with the sugar, and since I really like the robust flavor of hazelnuts with chocolate, I switched out the almond meal for hazelnut.  Besides, I love the symmetry of using noisettes (hazelnuts) with beurre noisette (brown butter).  It just makes sense.

Just until foamy

The main reason I had to test this recipe was to see if it would work in cupcake form.  The one we do at work is baked in a thin sheet, so I didn’t know if it would puff up into an attractive cupcake shape or if it would bake through before the top burned.  One test confirmed that it worked beautifully.

a rainbow of cupcake liners

If you read my other blog, you’ve already seen the results of this first test.  I also tested them for next-day-edibilty (still bangin’), and even a more traditional version, with almond meal and a bit of fresh fruit (in this case, cherries) baked in.  Those, in fact, I whipped up at midnight on a Saturday, after a long day of exploring Paris by foot with some friends.  We all enjoyed our dessert, and my friends still caught the last Métro home.  If that’s not quick and easy, I don’t know what is.

cherry-almond financiers

What I’ve learned from all of this testing (apart from the fact that they disappear as quickly as they bake) is that as long as you repect the 1:1:1:1 ratio of butter, egg whites, nut meal, and powdered sugar, with 10% of one part  (by weight, bien sûr) something dry like cocoa powder or cake flour, this cake is almost infinitely adaptable.  So try this one.  Make it suit your tastes or your mood.  I guarantee you’ll want to make them again and again.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Financier Cupcakes

When I realized how easy this classic French cake was to make, I couldn’t help but tinker with the recipe a bit to see if it would work as a cupcake.  And as long as we’re changing things, why not switch out the almond meal for hazelnut?  If you can’t find hazelnut meal, grind the same weight of nuts with the powdered sugar in a food processor. And if you want to go cocoa-less, substitute 20 grams of cake flour for the cocoa powder.

200 g / 7 oz. powdered sugar
20 g / ¾ oz. cocoa powder
200 g / 7 oz. hazelnut meal (Or any other nut meal.  Peanut would probably be awesome.)
200 g / 7 oz. egg whites
200 g / 7 oz. butter, browned with ¼ of a vanilla bean (vanilla bean optional, but worth it)
Pinch of sea salt

  1. Preheat oven to 200 C / 395 F.  Grease a muffin tin or line it with paper liners.
  2. Sift the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder together.  Whisk in the hazelnut meal.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt just until frothy.  Whisk in the sifted sugar, then the browned butter.
  4. Fill the prepared muffin cups about ¾ full.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it.
  5. Cool about 10 minutes, then remove from the baking pan.  Continue cooling, or devour the cupcakes warm.  They will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days, but they’ve never lasted that long in my house.

Makes 10 cupcakes.

On this day in 2008: Apricots and Ginger and Butter, Oh My!

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




14 responses

20 06 2010
ATL Part 5 |

[…] The Great Cupcake Extravaganza, Part Financier « Croque-Camille […]

20 06 2010

I am ALWAYS in the mood for chocolate and hazelnuts, so I am absolutely trying this. One question: blanched hazelnuts, or not?

21 06 2010
hungry dog

Great recipe–I am definitely holding on to this. I’ve had these in restaurants but never given them a try: they are officially on my to-make list now!

21 06 2010

I think I might be sneaking back to my parents’ place soon to steal the hazelnut meal I saw in their pantry when I left. Quick question – what’s the difference between a financier and a friand? Is it the browning of the butter? Because this looks almost identical to the friand recipe I’ve been using for ages, except for the browned butter bit. 🙂

(And so far, I’m in Camp Financier for the taste test.)

21 06 2010

Mmmm! I can vouch that these financier-cakes are a triumph. Thank you for sharing them!

21 06 2010

nererue – Yes, I’d say blanched (as in skin removed). They’d also probably benefit from a little toasting beforehand.

hungry dog – Watch out, they can become addictive!

Hannah – When I Googled “friand” on my phone, this was what came up first: “The friand pastry, which has become popular in Australia and New Zealand appears to have been based on the French financier;” the rest of the article is here:

Ann – You’re more than welcome! So glad you enjoyed!

22 06 2010

Arg, I tried to leave a comment yesterday but I think my internet was acting up. I believe I said I could testify to how yummy this is and now I have no excuse not to give it a try. D’s already addicted from one taste! How do you say “hazelnut meal” in French? Do you get it in the supermarket?

22 06 2010

Hopie – It’s called “poudre de noisettes,” and can usually be found with the other “fruits secs.” (How it is that nuts and fruits ended up with the same name boggles the mind!)

22 06 2010
Sweet Freak

I’m trying to decide if it’s a good thing, after all, that these financiers are so easy to make!

24 06 2010

This ratio is beautiful. I made these in a mini cupcake form and they came out beautifully. The interior stays nice and moist which is a definite selling point for Financier. I’m going to top them with gianduja buttercream and fresh raspberry garnish. These are great, I’m looking forward to the next one.

24 06 2010

I love the chocolate and hazelnuts combo 🙂 Very tasty.

24 06 2010

Sweet Freak – Trust me, it’s a good thing! 🙂

Rhonda – Yay! So glad they worked for you, too! I agree, the moist center and crisp exterior are great. Gianduja buttercream sounds outrageous! But wait ’til you see what I put on them…

Jocelyn – Me, too!

28 06 2010
The Great Cupcake Extravaganza, Part Frosting « Croque-Camille

[…] there?  Good.  I guess I should back up a little, and explain that there are, in fact, more than two flavors of cake, but the butter cake and devil’s food cake recipes are old standbys of mine […]

2 07 2010
The Great Cupcake Extravaganza, Part Tasting « Croque-Camille

[…] from top left: devil’s food cake with blackberry gelée, banana cake, citrus butter cake, chocolate-hazelnut financier, lemon butter cake with lemon curd filling, butter cake with strawberry-champagne gelée, butter […]

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