Pierre Hermé’s Financier Carré Blanc
Financiers are dainty little french confectioneries, tea cakes generally enjoyed over a cuppa. What makes ’em really special is the use of buerre noisette, literally meaning hazelnut butter, owing to the “butter cooking process” causing it to develop a tan hue, giving the tea cake its characteristic colour and nutty aroma. And if this is not enough, the “nuttiness” is accdentuated with the use of ground almond which really provide the petit four secs a lot of flavour. And as if to push the palate experience to the limits, Pierre Hermé incorporates maple sugar, trimoline and ground toasted hazelnut in his recipes making them a real special treat!
Here’s the recipe, from “Le livre des four secs et mouelleux de Pierre Hermé”
|Hazelnut powder toasted||5g|
In a clockwise fashion, diced dried cranberries, toasted almond and hazelnut which was freshly but coarsely ground, with the flour mixture ready to be “melanged”, adding the diced cranberry after the egg whites and finally drizzling in the beurre noisette. The aroma from just the batter was already quite phenomenal!
|Prepare buerre noisette by melting butter in a heavy saucepan over medium flame until a tan hue.|
|Toast ground hazelnut at 160C for 5 – 6 min|
|Preheat oven to 200C|
|Dice dried cranberries|
|Sift bread flour and baking soda|
|Mix hazelnut powder, almond powder and maple sugar followed by flour mixture|
|Add half the egg whites and mix|
|Add invert sugar and finally rest of egg whites in 2 additions|
|Add buerre noisette and diced cranberries|
|Fill piping bag with batter mixture|
|Pipe into financier moulds until 80% full|
|Lower oven temperature to 190C and bake for 7 min|
|Remove from mould and cool before serving.|
Instead of piping in the batter, I used two teaspoons to manoveured them into the moulds. Perhaps the cranberries werent diced finely enough, they got stuck at the nozzle when I tried piping them. Also, I find using spoons give me more control to distribute the cranberry bits more evenly throughout. I would keep it this way as I’d prefer the dried fruit bits to be more “sizeable to the chew”.
To make beurre niosette, unsalted butter is first melted over low heat and then allowed to “simmer” for the butterfat and milk solds to separate. The latter sink to the bottom of the pan and begin to brown creating the unique tones and aroma of toasted hazel nuts. I’d left the buerre noisette to sit for a while to cool down before decanting the top liquids away leaving a layer of burnt milk solids in the photo.
The recipe called for maple sugar which is one of those impossible-to-find things. Thankfully the recipe provided a “contingency plan” to substitute maple sugar with maple syrup reduced from 76g to 55g through very careful heating. “How to weigh out a hot saucepan of syrup then?” some of you might ask. Its quite easy, if you tare the weight of the saucepan together with a thermal insulating coaster over an electronic balance and leave the coaster on it, periodically weighing the syrup while it boils away its excess liquids. More painstaking yes but I think it adheres to PH’s original recipe more. Also, I omitted the invert sugar since maple syrup was used.
Pierre Hermé’s financiers are very moist and soft, much more so than those we’d tried in Japan. This is due to the use of trimoline as well as reduced maple syrup. I’m pretty sure the process of boiling away excess water from the maple syrup also aid in the hydrolytic breakdown on sugars in it, leading to form partially “invert sugar”. Honestly, I would have preferred them a tad firmer, while a “crustier” outer skin. But honestly, the aroma and flavours are to die for. Now its just a matter of finding a means to have the best of both worlds!
It will be a much of a cliché to write on how the name for “financiers” come about, but don’t you think they really look like gold bars? If only they are worth their weight in real gold!
Though I’m massive on tart and astringent fruits, surprisingly I’d never taken to cranberries very much. But these dehydrated morsels, stripped off the excess moisture transform into little capsules of intense flavours and seem to tell an altogether different tale. The fruitiness they impart went very well with the buttery sensation from the teacake. And in retrospect, a tart berry seem destined to be the one for the job. And cranberries are very befitting indeed. As with many of Pierre Hermé’s creations, his choice of names for his works has always been most intriguing, for me the least. noms a la femme seemed to be his forte and he is very partial towards them, so why carré blanc, which literally means “white squares”? I’m pretty sure there is a story behind it, so anyone who is in the know, pray tell. 🙂