Black sesame financiers

Until a little trip to Licorous last fall, I had never thought much of financiers. I don't know why... maybe I never had a good one. I don't have much love for madeleines either.

But Licorous' financiers were just too hard to resist...  Served warm with an espresso caramel dipping sauce and another dipping option, perhaps a bit of warm maple syrup, the crisp-yet-tender brown-buttery goodness continues to occupy a place in my dreams.

At home, I rarely make financiers... as much as I love butter, there's only so much I can handle. But I've been tempted to reinterpret the financier with a wafuu approach, and so I have occasionally been trying my hand at them recently.

For my first attempt at making Japanese-styled financiers, I replaced all of the standard ground almonds with ground white sesame seeds. It turns out that the almonds add some flavor foundation that a pure sesame seed version doesn't supply, so I've since tweaked my recipe.

This version is based on Dana's financier recipe on Tasting Menu. When I first saw this recipe, I thought the amount of sugar was incredibly high and that this would be unbearably sweet, but it somehow works out to be just about right, and is much less sweet than I expected. Perhaps the bitterness of the nuts helps balance out the sugar.

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tbsp. almonds
  • 2 tbsp. white sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp. black sesame seeds, whole
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp. all-purpose flour (or cake flour)

Instructions

  1. Brown the butter in a small on medium heat. You want it to become the color of hazelnuts, but not carbon. This time I used some very nice Cremerie Classique butter from the Pike Place Market, which seems to have fewer milk solids than the average butter, so it took a bit longer to brown. Be careful that it doesn't cook so long that it scorches; once it's bubbling, watch very carefully.
  2. Strain and reserve the hot browned butter. Discard any particles of solids that are left behind.
  3. Grind the almonds and white sesame seeds in a food processor, spice grinder, or clean rotary coffee grinder.
  4. Sift the confectioner's sugar into a bowl and add the ground nuts.
  5. With a mixer or whisk, stir in the egg whites until a paste forms. Pour in the warm, but not fiercely hot brown butter, and continue mixing until consistent. Add the flour, salt, and black sesame seeds, and gently mix until everything is incorporated.
  6. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  7. Pour into baking forms. I used some nifty individual 1 inch silicone muffin cups on a baking sheet. They take about 17 minutes. Mini-muffin pans would work well I've also used some small rectangular loaf pans filled to a depth of about 3/4 inch, which takes about 20 minutes.

After baking, rest on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. If you used a larger form, use a bread knife to cut the financiers into smaller cubes, but you may want to cut them a bit sooner so that they don't steam themselves soft.

Kurogoma financiers with kuromitsu and coffee

These are perfect dipped into a little kuromitsu, a bittersweet Japanese black sugar syrup. Failing that, consider blending some molasses, treacle, or sorghum syrup with honey to taste; try blending about 80% sweet molasses and 20% honey. I dusted a little kinako (toasted soy flour) seasoned with sugar and salt onto the plate, which also adds a nice flavor and makes the dish even more wafuu.

I served mine with a little espresso... A sturdy tea would work as well.