Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Pierre Hermé’s Financier Carré Blanc

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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!

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Here’s the recipe, from “Le livre des four secs et mouelleux de Pierre Hermé

Ingredients
Maple sugar 55g
Icing sugar 40g
Almond powder 30g
Hazelnut powder toasted 5g
Bread flour 40g
Baking soda 1g
Egg white 100g
Invert sugar 5g
Buerre noisette 65g
Dried cranberries 50g

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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!

Method

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.

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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.
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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!
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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!
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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. 🙂

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24 responses

  1. Alan, I bet this little babies are delicious.

    July 21, 2011 at 7:51 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Hi Edith! and they are quite easy to make too! I’m sure your kids would love ’em!

      July 21, 2011 at 10:30 pm

  2. I too like my financiers with a crusty little outside 🙂 And really out of topic, but I just got the book where this recipe came from today and gosh it’s a treasure! I’m already swooning at all the cakes, esp the carre blanc and cake carrement chocolat but your pictures just make me wanna make them now! I just need to get my hands on some trimonline though..

    July 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hi Janine! yes its quite a good book with very approachable PH recipes. Gives everyone a chance to have a little bit of PH. 🙂

      you can substitute trimoline with glucose. It works well too.

      July 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

  3. i find tt baking with silicon molds yields even results, but causes the lack of “crunchy” crust ard the edges. you can perhaps bake them in metal molds instead? (:

    July 21, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yeah I totally agree with that, michelle! same issues with canneles and madeleines I think. Gotta get the real thing… but the problem is, the metal, especially copper ones are so freaky expensive!

      July 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm

  4. i want bake for next thurs!

    July 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      waiting to try yours! 🙂

      July 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm

  5. Wow.. very nice golden brown bars 😉

    July 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      yah lor, if only they are made of real gold!

      July 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm

  6. I wonder if PH books will be a little difficult for me to understand, each time you made something from PH, it wowed me. Thanks for all your notes and tips that you always included here, it gives me a better understanding , open up my eyes to the french way of baking, infact i know very little about them. I’m not very sure about the buerre noisette you mentioned here, is that the burnt milk solids you mentioned here ?

    July 22, 2011 at 12:26 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      i think your worries are unfound, Lena. These are well within your means, trust me! 🙂

      beurre noisette is the term used for butter which has been browned from heating. When the milk solids are separated, some would sink to the bottom and in my case, got burnt. Don’t use the burnt bits! just sit the butter for a while to allow the solids to settle and decant away the liquid level on top!

      July 22, 2011 at 10:49 am

  7. Jen

    These look divine. Didn’t get to try PH’s financiers nor madeleines but judging from his cannelles and of course the stellar track record of his wonderful array of pastries, I’m certain his financiers will not fail to disappoint. Great work!

    July 23, 2011 at 7:17 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Hi Jenny! Are you back from Paris yet? what are you plans? dying to try your works!

      July 24, 2011 at 9:16 pm

  8. Alan, I almost made this a few weeks back. My first financiers were made in exactly the same type of molds you’ve used for these…. they look like gold bars! Like you’ve observed, his recipe is actually softer than the usual Financier. Love it!

    August 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      hi Shirley! they look like gold bars indeed! I regret not getting the bigger ones like those you have though…they would be ideal for making the base of a lot of pastries! the petite moulds i got are too small.

      PH’s financiers are really soft yes. I would prefer a little more crust actually. LOL

      August 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm

  9. I really want to try this one too ^^.

    November 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

    • Alan (travellingfoodies)

      Hi Pook! I love your Financier Matilda too! Must be really fragrant with noisette on top of beurre noisette!

      November 7, 2011 at 10:21 pm

  10. Lester Fontayne

    The icing sugar in the ingredients list disappears in the method. Is this an accidental omission or do you drop it when using the reduced maple syrup? Thanks.

    March 31, 2012 at 8:07 pm

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  13. Eva

    Gorgeous!!!!

    June 22, 2013 at 10:59 am

  14. Pingback: Itadakimasu! 蕎麦ぼうろ Soba Boro – Kyoto Buckwheat Cookies | travellingfoodies

  15. Rita

    Hi …can I use self raising flour, cake flour or top flour that I already have at home. How different the yield will be? Thank you!

    May 15, 2018 at 12:06 pm

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