Happy secular new year!
To celebrate 2011, I baked up some financiers.
"Wait ... what?" you ask. Yes, it is traditional to make something that represents prosperity (and health and happiness--2 out of 3 here, but I digress ...), but how did you conjure up a person who handles large sums of money? Especially in your sized kitchen?
No, Silly-Billy! A financier is a small French tea cake, traditionally made with almond flour. According to that well-respected source of culinary knowledge, Wikipedia, the financier of the cake persuasion probably earned the name from its traditional rectangular shape, similar to a gold bar. Gold = wealth = wealth handler = financier.
I didn't happen to have tiny rectangular molds sitting around, but I do have tiny round muffin molds handy. And by an amazing coincidence, many financier recipes found on the intertubes conveniently use tiny round muffin molds.
The recipe from which I base my version is from Paula Shoyer's The Kosher Baker. Hers is made with pistachios instead of almonds. I didn't happen to have enough pistachios sitting around, but I did have several packages of almonds. And by an amazing coincidence ... oh, never mind.
This recipe is pretty easy. I didn't mark it as such since you do have to separate egg whites from the yolk. But if you miss and some yolk does gets into the batter, it doesn't matter since no whipping is involved (of the egg, not you).
based on The Kosher Baker
makes 24 financiers
1 cup whole almonds (almost a 6 oz. bag)
24 sliced almond pieces (try to pick out the prettiest slices)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
6 Tbl. (about 3/4 of a stick) margarine
Preheat oven to 350F . Place 24 mini-muffin paper cups into 24 mini-muffin molds.
Spread the almonds out in a single layer on a rimmed baking pan and toast for 5-10 minutes, or until they start to brown a bit and smell wonderful. Watch them carefully so that they don't burn.
Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. When they cool down enough to handle, pulse almonds a bunch of times in a food processor ...
... until you have very small pieces. No need to totally grind them. If you try you might wind up with almond butter.
Transfer the nut pieces to medium mixing bowl. Add in flour and sugar. With the finger of your choice, make a smiley-face (this last step is optional). Using a rubber spatula, mix everything together.
Then fold in in egg whites.
Cut up margarine into chunks, then nuke for 30 seconds intervals in the microwave oven until almost completely melted. Stir until completely melted (this helps prevent or reduce splattering from overnuking).
Continuing with the spatula, stir in about 1/3 of the margarine at a time into the nut mixture. Make sure the margarine is fully incorporated.
Spoon a scant tablespoon of batter into each prepared mini-muffin mold, filling them about 2/3 full. There should barely be any leftover mixture
Top each with an almond slice in the center.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until nicely browned. I removed them a tad early. They probably could have used another minute to brown more nicely.
Let cool. They taste best the same day they are made, but can be served without embarassement if stored tightly covered at room temperature for a few days, or frozen for up to 3 months.