One of my favorite bakeries in Paris is Eric Kayser Artisan Boulanger, where not only is everything baked fresh from scratch daily, everything is as delicious as it is beautiful. There are several locations throughout the city, and each time I visit, I make it a point to try something new. On a recent trip, I saw some rather plain looking les financier au chocolat, and realized I had never actually tried a financier. In bakery visits past, the financiers always looked very much like unfrosted cupcakes or pound cakes, and weren’t particularly beautiful; other prettier pastries always won out. So when I bit into my first financier au chocolate, what a surprise! The flavor and texture were totally unexpected, and it was delicious. When they were first introduced by a French pastry chef in the late 1800s, financiers were rectangular shaped like a bar of gold, and were very popular as a teatime treat in the financial district of Paris; hence the name.
Financiers are traditionally rich, moist little cakes containing ground almonds or almond meal and browned butter, as well as beaten egg whites. The financiers at Eric Kayser are not rectangular shaped; rather they are baked in muffin pans and come in regular size and mini. Several flavors, such as pistachio, butter, raspberry, blackberry, and cherry, are featured each day. If you’re curious, you can see them being made on You Tube . I was so impressed with my first Financier au Chocolat that as soon as I returned home, I searched through all of my French cookbooks (54 different volumes, actually), and found that only two had recipes for financiers. Since they’re not particularly difficult to make, I’m puzzled as to why French cooks don’t make financiers at home or why they are missing from most of my French cookbooks; maybe they’re reserved as a special treat with tea or coffee at bakeries and restaurants.
After a few test batches (and a weight gain of almost 5 pounds), adapting different ingredients and techniques from the two recipes in my books and a few others from the internet, I settled on the following recipe for Les Financier au Chocolat, which is very close to the Eric Kayser version and absolutely decadent. The ambience of Paris will most likely be missing, but the flavor and texture of these luscious cakes will more than make up for it.
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, 60% cacao, or bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup butter
3 egg whites
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Measure the whipping cream into a microwave-safe glass measuring cup or bowl.
- Microwave 2-3 minutes or until boiling; add the chocolate.
- Let sit 2-3 minutes, and whisk until smooth.
- Place the butter in a small skillet; melt over medium heat, and let continue to cook until the solids are lightly browned.
- Remove from the heat to cool.
- While the mixtures are cooling, thoroughly butter a 12-cup muffin pan.
- Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Sprinkle the almond meal over.
- Place a fine strainer over the mixture and measure the flour, salt, baking powder, and powdered sugar into the strainer; shake through.
- Mix thoroughly, being careful not to inflate the egg whites.
- Stir in the almond extract.
- Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture; pour the browned butter in and stir until smooth.
- Scoop about 1/4 cup of the batter into each of the 12 muffin cups.
- Bake 13-15 minutes or until they begin to pull away from the sides and the centers are just set; do not overbake.
- Remove from the oven, run a knife around the outside, and remove the cakes to cooling racks.
Amount Per Serving
Calories 211 Calories from Fat 138
Percent Total Calories From:
Fat 65% Protein 6% Carb. 29%
Nutrient Amount per Serving
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated Fat 8 g
Cholesterol 29 mg
Sodium 121 mg
Total Carbohydrate 15 g
Dietary Fiber 1 g
Sugars 0 g
Protein 3 g
Vitamin A 7% Vitamin C 0% Calcium 0% Iron 2%