Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pierre Hermé's "Financiers"

I've been eyeing the recipe for Financiers in my Pierre Hermé cookbook for a long, long time. This is a treat I've had in France a few times, but not enough to be a real pro at what they should taste like. And usually they are not made of chocolate, but there seems to be nothing wrong with a chocolate financier! So my intrigue was at a high, all I needed was an excuse to bake them. My excuse? My French class was hungry for a treat. Enough said.

Basically, they are a chocolate almond cookie. The name translates more or less to "banker", because the pastry shop where they originated catered to many of the "financiers" in the bourse district of Paris. They are traditionally shaped like a bar of gold, but now you see them baked in boat-shaped molds. I used a baking pan with multiple mold shapes (flowers, hearts, bundts, etc.) and they turned out great.
Because of the almond flour, they are very moist and can be kept at room temperature for a number of days. Easy to make, yummy to eat...my kind of treat!

3 /12 ounces (100 g) bittersweet chocolate
3 lg eggs
1/2 cup plus 1 Tb. sugar
1 cup finely ground almond powder or finely ground blanched almonds
1 stick plus 1 Tb. unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 Tb. tepid water
1/3 cup plus 2 Tb. all purpose flour, sifted

Preheat your oven to 350. Butter and flour molds (rectangular, boat shaped, something that holds about 3 Tb. water. Adjust cooking time if you have different sized molds). Place molds on jelly roll pan.

Melt chocolate in bowl over and not touching simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. It should be just warm to the touch when you use it.

With an electric stand mixer, whisk the eggs, sugar and almond powder together on medium-high speed until it is pale. Reduce speed to medium, add butter in 4 or 5 peaces and beat until just incorporated. On low speed, add chocolate and mix to blend. Add the water, increase speed to medium, and beat until it comes together.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour. (This batter can be kept covered airtight in the refrigerator for a couple days).

Spoon batter into molds until they are almost filled, and bake for 15 - 18 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a cookie rack and cool for 3 minutes, then remove cookies from the molds. Cool them airtight to room temperature.

Optional: add a sprinkling of cocoa powder or confectioner's sugar

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