Brown Butter Financiers

One my favorites, of all French pastries, is the financier. Enriched with nuts, and moistened with butter, almost every bakery you go into has them. They come in different sizes, shapes, and even flavors; almond is the most popular, but you’ll sometimes come across financiers made with ground hazelnuts or pistachios. I like them all. There are a few theories how this mini-gâteau got its curious name.

One is that, traditionally, they’re baked in small, rectangular molds.  Once baked and unmolded, the little cakes resemble bars of gold. Another is that even adults in France are known to indulge in an afternoon sweet stop at their local bakery, for their goûter. Because people who work in the financial industry normally wear nice outfits or suits, something that’s neat to eat is appreciated, so they can stay presentable when heading back to the office.

I don’t have to worry about that, nor has anything come out of my oven turned to gold. (Quelle dommage!) But when I found myself with some leftover brown butter from infusing it in bourbon for Brown Butter Old Fashioneds, since I treat butter like gold, instead of tossing it, it got repurposed as a base for a batch of financiers.

Using browned butter keeps the butter flavor even more in focus. Some people get a little anxious when they see dark specks in pastries and desserts; I once had a waiter ask me what the dark flecks in the vanilla ice cream were. When I told him they were vanilla beans, and asked him (incredulously) what he thought they were, he replied, “I thought they were dirt.”

So after you brown the butter, when pouring it out of the pan, you don’t want to scrape up too much of the dark bits at the bottom of the pan, but I don’t mind a few in my cakes (in fact, I prefer them), so don’t fret too much about having a few in your batter. These cakes are also very forgiving, which is why so many bakeries in France offer them. They’re easy to make, keep well, and are the perfect afternoon snack – or as the French say, un snack.

Browned Butter Financiers
Print Recipe
24 financiers
For financiers, I use mini-muffin tins, which are easily available. I'm not a fan of silicone bakeware but know that some people like it. This batter is pretty forgiving so can be baked in madeleine molds or even in larger muffin tins, filling them only about halfway. If you use another size mold, you'll likely need to adjust the baking time; bake them until browned on top, and the feel just set in the center when you touch them. As mentioned, I made these with leftover brown butter from the Brown Butter Old Fashioned recipe. I started with 4 ounces (8 tablespoons/115g) of butter, which yielded the amount called for in the recipe. If starting from scratch, and making your own brown butter, start with that amount of brown butter, then you can measure it out when it's browned and cooled. (If you need a bit more butter, you can simply add a bit of melted butter to it, to reach the 2 1/2 oz/75g amount. There are links at the end of the post with detailed instructions on making brown butter.
1 cup (140g) almond or hazelnut flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (180g) sugar
5 tablespoons (45g) flour
generous pinch salt
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
2 1/2 ounces (75g) brown butter, slightly warm (liquified)
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF/180ºC and butter the insides of 24 mini muffin tins generously with softened, not melted, butter, making sure the butter the upper rims of the indentations.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the almond or hazelnut powder, sugar, flour and salt. Stir in the egg whites and vanilla or almond extract, then the browned butter.
3. Fill each indentation of the mini muffin tins almost to the top. Rap the tins sharply on the counter to level the tops, then bake for 13 minutes, until nicely browned. Let the financiers cool in the tins, then remove them, using a sharp knife to help release them, if necessary.

Storage: The financiers can be stored in an air-tight container for up to one week. They can be frozen for up to two months.

Related Links

Brown butter Old Fashioned Cocktail

How to make brown butter (Serious Eats)

How to make brown butter video (Simply Recipes)

Summer Fruit Tart with Almond Cream

What is almond flour?

 

 

Financiers: Tender French cakes enriched with the nutty taste of browned butter

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21 comments

  • Victoria
    December 7, 2017 5:13pm

    I make these all the time and wrote them up on FOOD52 when the Cookbook Club was cooking through My Paris Kitchen. The recipes are clear, and the results are sublime. Reply

  • Emma
    December 7, 2017 5:57pm

    One of my favorite treats! I love to pop a raspberry on the top of each of mine. Reply

    • December 7, 2017 6:30pm
      David Lebovitz

      That’s nice, too! Blackberries are nice as well : ) Reply

  • Tricia
    December 7, 2017 6:27pm

    Are the egg whites whipped before being added? The recipe as written sounds like you just add the gloopy egg whites…..unusual. Reply

    • December 7, 2017 6:29pm
      David Lebovitz

      They’re not whipped, just added in their liquid form. Reply

  • December 7, 2017 6:50pm

    Financiers are one of my favorite cookie in the world! I love the texture that is somewhat between a small cake and a soft cookie, and it’s absolutely the best. These ones look especially delicious and I just can’t wait to try them. Reply

  • carli
    December 7, 2017 7:02pm

    I love these!!!! I made them once in mini muffin tins and once in silicone financier molds. The mini muffins were much better, had more substance, the silicone mold indentation was too shallow I think so there wasn’t much “cake” to it. In one batch I added a dot of Nutella which my kids loved, they were delicious!!! Reply

  • JACKLYN CAMPBELL
    December 7, 2017 9:07pm

    Question: The recipe does not indicate whether to use all purpose flour or cake flour. Does it matter? For this recipe in particular, and other baking in general? I have both flours, and if not stipulated I am never sure which flour I should use. Please and thanks! Reply

    • December 8, 2017 2:22pm
      David Lebovitz

      In recipes that call for flour, when one type isn’t specifically mentioned, it’s usually all-purpose flour. (Just like “sugar,” called for in a recipe, is assumed to be “granulated sugar”) Recipes that call for cake flour always say “cake flour.” Reply

  • December 7, 2017 11:18pm

    Yum! My downfall is always anything chocolate, but I never say no to a financier.
    Any idea why my madeleines stick to the mold? It seems to be nonstick, and I slathered it with oil, butter and butter/flour (washing and drying between batches). Sigh. Reply

    • Kim
      December 8, 2017 8:41am

      I have had the best luck with specialty baking spray for madeleines :D Ghee is next best, then oil, then butter. I think the dairy solids are to blame. Reply

    • Junko
      December 11, 2017 6:17pm

      When the cakes come out of the oven, insert the sharp tip of a thin bamboo skewer between the cake and the pan, lifting each cake a little but leaving them in the pan until they cool down. This works for me each time, Madeleine or Financier. Reply

  • Victoria
    December 8, 2017 12:47pm

    I just got some mini Madeleine molds — may try those! Reply

  • Victoria
    December 8, 2017 3:23pm

    Would you share why you aren’t a fan of silicon molds? I never wanted to use them either. Thanks Reply

  • Barbara
    December 8, 2017 3:34pm

    I just made a chocolate version, but these are next! Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and stories. I do have one question: since there’s very little flour in the recipe, could you sub for another gluten free flour? I’d love to make these for family members that are celiacs! Reply

  • witloof
    December 8, 2017 4:30pm

    Oh, the mystery is solved! Someone brings a delectable almond flavored pastry in this exact shape to an event I attend every week. I couldn’t figure out what they were, since they’re not quite a muffin and not quite a macaroon. I’m delighted to have the recipe. And being a New Yorker, I actually already have the mini muffin tins because someone left a bunch of their unwanted baking supplies in the laundry room in my apartment building. I have to bring a treat to a five day long dance festival that will be served on the last day, and these will be perfect. Everyone brings gorgeous homemade leftover Christmas goodies and I want mine to be equally splendid! Reply

  • Cindy Williamson
    December 9, 2017 3:55pm

    Made your Swedish Meatballs last night – scrumptious! Reply

  • December 11, 2017 2:09pm

    Oh, yum! I have some new friends here in Paris who served me these just a few days ago — I had never heard of them before, but just loved them. And they’re so cute, too! Reply

  • Cherie
    December 11, 2017 2:22pm

    Made this for breakfast treat. So yummy! Going to make more and freeze them for Christmas morning breakfast Reply

  • Charlie
    December 11, 2017 5:22pm

    These are fantastic! I knew as soon as I scanned the recipe that they were right up my alley – I’ve been putting almond extract in so many sweets lately. People always so, “wow, what’s in these?” I love that they have so little white flour. Excellent taste and texture. Already decided to make them for my family Christmas breakfast. Thanks David. Reply

  • Danielle
    December 12, 2017 12:52am

    These look fantastic! I have a question, tho. The Almond cakes with browned butter recipe in My Paris Kitchen call for chilling the batter before baking. Since the recipes are very similar, I’m wondering if you discovered that the chilling was no longer necessary?
    Thank you! Reply

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