Posted on Tuesday, 27th April 2010 by Grace Massa Langlois
The Good – Classic Blackberry Financiers, The Bad – Orange Zeppole. The Financiers have become a new family favourite. It will make a great addition to our Italian Wedding Cookie Tray.
It’s been quiet around the house the last two weeks, both Matt and Liana have been very busy studying. Matt for midterms and Liana for final exams. I can’t believe Liana wrote her last final exam today. Her first year at University has flown by, where has the time gone, it seems like only yesterday she was starting junior kindergarten.
We spent most of the weekend indoors, the weather turned cool again, very windy and it rained most of Sunday. I can’t wait for spring to finally arrive and stay for longer than a day. I always get so anxious this time of year. I can’t wait for the warm weather and I long for summer. I enjoy long days spent by the pool and evenings by the fire, roasting marshmallows, reminiscing and telling stories, sharing time with family and friends. Best of all we’ll be back to grilling! My husband did all of the grilling and it’s something I have been working to improve over the last few years. I can finally say I grill a mean ribeye. I love to entertain in the summer and the house tends to be full with family and friends. Everyone tends to be out and about and it seems the impromptu get togethers always seem to be the best.
I am looking forward to all the locally grown fruits and vegetables, especially berries. I’m not picky, blueberries, raspberries and my absolute favourite, strawberries. I remember when I was carrying both of the kids, not a day went by that I didn’t eat a bowl of strawberries with extra whipped cream.
Sunday was a good day to do some baking. I wanted to try something that I had never made. I love french pastries and I came across an article in the Times, Dining and Wine, The Pastry Chef’s Rich Little Secret, the writer, Amanda Hesser, describes “It’s a simple almond cake, leavened by egg whites, moistened with brown butter and baked into a small mold. But such simplicity is deceiving: the classic French pastry called the financier is exquisitely refined. It is springy, sweet and nutty with an exterior that’s as crisp as an eggshell”. The description reminded me of an Italian almond pastry that graces almost every wedding cookie tray. Plus, almonds, pastry, crispy on the outside and light on the inside, how could you resist? If you have never made them, do yourself a favour and read the article (link above). Amanda points out a few key steps that could “make or break the cake”. She also offers suggestions on what to serve with the financiers. I look forward to making them again and adding my own little spin, not that the recipe needs any changing, these little cakes are wonderful as is.
I did add blackberries to the financiers just before popping them in the oven and decided to serve them with blackberry and strawberry compote and sweetened whipped cream.
In the article Amanda points out that the financiers are best eaten right away, apparently the texture starts to deteriorate rather quickly. I think I will debate that thought because I had more than one today and although they are not as crispy on the outside, they are still quite moist, possibly the fruit made the difference.
While the financier’s batter was resting I thought I would whip up a batch of orange zeppole for the kids. I’d been meaning to give Giada’s Orange and Chocolate Zeppole a try, unfortunately I was a little disappointed in the batter, it was very thin and runny. Using a small ice cream scoop I tried to drop the batter in the oil but it just didn’t want to form a ball. I decided it best to put the batter in the fridge and let it firm up. After an hour or so the batter was still runny, the kids were still waiting, I decided to make the batter again and I added a little more flour. It did the trick, it was much easier to work with. The zeppole were very good when first out of the oil and rolled in sugar but they quickly became heavy. This won’t be a go to recipe for me but if you’d like to give it a go, I have provided the link above. Let me know if you have better luck! I couldn’t fault the chocolate sauce, creamy, delicious and very easy to make.
If you would like to see more photos you can find them in our new Image Gallery.
A little fyi, I will be back to cupcakes on Thursday, don’t miss the Chocolate Lover’s Delight, Deep-Chocolate Brownie Cupcakes. I am still on the hunt for the perfect gourmet cupcake for my niece’s bridal shower. The first cupcake recipe I tested was the Orange Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream, they are delicious and will be hard to beat.
Classic Blackberry Financiers and Orange Zeppole
- Blackberry Financiers
- Blackberry and Strawberry Compote
- Orange Zeppole
- Chocolate Sauce
(adapted from Francois Payard of Payard Patisserie)
Time: 50 minutes plus 3 hours’ resting
- 9 tablespoons butter, more for molds (I used medium sized muffin cups)
- 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup almond flour or 1/2 cup whole unpeeled almonds (I used the unpeeled almonds)
- 1/4 cup bleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cake flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 4 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 16 blackberries (optional)
- Generously butter 12 2-by-4 inch regular financier molds (measured at the top) or line 16 muffin cups with medium paper liners.
- In a small pan, over medium low heat, heat butter, occasionally swirling, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes, set aside.
- Sift sugar over almond flour. (If using whole almonds, process sugar and almonds in a food processor, until almost fine.) Add both flours, salt and baking powder and gently whisk to combine. Add eggs one at a time, whisking just to combine. Do not overwork or the cakes will be tough.
- Add vanilla to butter. In a steady stream, whisk butter into flour mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 3 hours.
- Heat oven to 375°. Set molds on a baking sheet, spoon mixture into a pastry bag that has a 1/4 inch round tip, pipe mixture into molds, filling halfway. If using muffin cups, spoon mixture into baking cups, filling halfway. If using fruit, press into mixture slightly (I used one blackberry, halved, for each muffin cup). Bake 18 to 20 minutes, until browned and springy. Remove from oven, and cool 2 minutes before unmolding. Cool completely on rack. Serve plain or dusted with powdered sugar, or warm, with ice cream.
Blackberry & Strawberry Compote
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds removed
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 2 cups mixed blackberries and strawberries
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Place orange juice, vanilla bean, vanilla bean seeds and orange zest into a medium saucepan. Place on low heat and bring to a simmer.
- Remove vanilla bean and add 1 cup of berries and sugar. Stir gently to combine. Over medium low heat, return to a simmer.
- Remove from heat and stir in remaining berries.
(recipe from Giada, Giada’s Kitchen)
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- Heat the cream in a small saucepan, until hot but not boiling.
- Combine the cream and the chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl and stir until smooth.
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Tags: almond, blackberries, chocolate, chocolate sauce, financiers, french pastry, strawberries
Posted in Baking & Pastry, Baking Mise en Place, Fillings, Frostings & Dessert Sauces, Pastry Doughs & Batter, Recipes