Chase away the greys: Orange-scented Financiers

Do you know financiers? The almond-laden French treat, so named either because of its traditional “bar of gold” shape or because it supposedly originated in the financial district of Paris? There is a bakery near me which makes wonderful ones, so moist and rich that it’s quite dangerous for me to walk by on an empty stomach. Luckily, this bakery a good 20-minute walk across the park, so I don’t find myself at its mercy too often.

I’ve been thinking of making my own financiers ever since my sister gifted me with this cute vintage muffin tin back in September. The cups are a little on the small side for my kind of muffins, but the lovely shaped moulds and retro charm convinced me that I had to make something in them. Financiers are perfect for this; like their close cousin madeleines, they’re usually made in small moulds, the better to achieve that crispy-on-the-outside, spongey-on-the-inside harmony. In fact, each has their own traditional shape- the aforementioned “gold bar” for financiers, and a pretty shell-like design for madeleines.

Since I was already flying in the face of tradition with my spiral muffin cups, I decided to make some other changes, too. Usually, financiers are made with a browned butter base and toasted almonds, but I was after a slightly fresher taste with my batch. Maybe it’s the dismal fall weather around here, but I’ve been craving citrus lately. Zesty, orange-scented little cakes seem like the perfect thing to chase away the autumn greys, no?

I call these “scented” but really they’re jam-packed with flavour, too. Light and tender, they’re the perfect thing to serve with tea on an October afternoon. Oh, and if you’re wondering what to do with the half-naked orange and three lone egg yolks the recipe leaves you with, I suggest a tangy orange curd. For me, there’s just one problem: with all these delicious treats in the house, I could really do with a walk across the park, you know?


Orange-scented Financiers

adapted from Joy of Baking

  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup finely ground almonds
  • 3/4 cup icing sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • zest of half a large orange
  • 1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

  1.  Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and get out a 12-financier pan or other mini muffin-type tin.
  2.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, ground almonds, icing sugar and salt. Add the orange zest and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers, evenly distributing it and releasing the scent. Set aside.
  3.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat, then allow to cool to room temperature.
  4.  Meanwhile, place the egg whites and extracts into a large bowl. When it’s cool, add 5 tablespoons of the melted butter and whisk everything together until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Use a pastry brush to coat the tins with the rest of the melted butter.
  5.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold together until just combined. Divide the mixture between the muffin cups and bake for 10-12 minutes, until financiers are very slightly golden on top, and crisp at the edges. Allow cooling on a wire rack.
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