Chocolate Financiers: A New Take on a Classic Recipe
Financiers are popular French pastries made with a large proportion of finely ground almonds, which give them a distinctive taste and texture. Traditional French bakers may be appalled by the liberties I’ve taken with this recipe, but I think this version may be even better than the classic. I’ve changed it three ways: added chocolate (why not?), substituted extra-virgin olive oil for butter (again, why not?), and, in deference to my husband’s almond allergy, used walnuts instead of almonds. A mainstay of the original recipe is browned butter, which enhances the nutty flavor. Here I ramp up the nuttiness by roasting the nuts.
I use a special set of molds that I bought in Paris when I make these cakes. They are low and rectangular, mimicking the shape of gold ingots, hence the name. If you don’t have these molds, use other low, small ones, such as barquettes, or brioche molds 3 inches in diameter at the top.
Sixteen cakes, 3 ¾ by 2 by ½ inches
soft butter for the molds
1 cup (4 ¼ ounces) walnut pieces
2 ½ cups (9 ounces) powdered sugar
¼ cup (1 ¼ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup (1 ounce) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
pinch of sea salt
5 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
4 ½ ounces delicate extra-virgin olive oil
powdered sugar for dusting the finished cakes
Prepare the walnuts:
Preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack positioned in the middle.
Arrange the nuts in a single layer on a small baking pan and roast until you can just detect their aroma and they are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Use a food processor to finely grind, but not pulverize, them. Set aside. (This can be done ahead.)
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Carefully butter the molds until no trace of metal is showing.
Sift the powdered sugar, flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Using a hand whisk, add the walnuts. Whisk the egg whites into the dry ingredients. (Note that the whites are not beaten before they are added.) Add the olive oil and whisk until everything is uniformly combined.
Put the molds on a baking tray. Using a small ladle, fill them three-quarters full with the batter.
Bake for 5 minutes. Rotate the pan in the oven front to back.
Turn the oven down to 400°F and continue to bake until the cakes are slightly puffed, spring back when touched, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 4 more minutes. (Brioche molds may take a little longer.)
Cool the cakes before unmolding.
Lightly dust with powdered sugar before serving.