Last night I was asked to come back to the pastry school I graduated from to mentor/judge the graduating student’s final presentations. I feel honored every time Chef Cecilia DeCastro asks me back to do this. Graduating from her program was a very fulfilling experience for me as well as a sense of personal achievement. Even though I’m old (and that’s a relative term) you never want to stop setting goals for yourself. In going through this program, Mama figured out that she definitely wanted to bake. Many of the students who go through her program go on to work as pastry chefs in restaurants, they cater, open bakeries, or like myself, they blog.
Anyway, I am actually the perfect person to judge a final pastry presentation. Anyone who knows me will tell you I am obsessed with cookies, cakes and anything French. Each student had set up their own table filled with artistically displayed macarons, Madeleines, Croquembouche and Pate a Choux, just to name a few. And yep, my job was to taste it. And that’s exactly what I did. Everything was wonderful, and I hope I get asked back to do this again. By the time I got home from the presentation I was good and sugared up, so I took the dog for a long walk. When I got up this morning, last night’s event had inspired me to bake. So here is my take on a French pastry called a financier. Yum.
From Bon Appetit Magazine
- 1/2 cup plus 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 5 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons honey
- nonstick vegetable spray or mini muffin liners
- 2 cups fresh (or frozen, thawed) blackberries, halved
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until browned bits begin to form. Continue to simmer frequently scraping up browned bits at bottom of pan, until dark brown, but not burnt, about 6-7 minutes. Do not take your eyes off the saucepan has the butter can burn in an instant. Scrape the butter and the browned bits into a medium bowl and let it cool for about 5 minutes.
- Next, process almonds and flour in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Add egg whites and mix until smooth. Fold in honey.
- Fold browned butter into batter. Cover and chill for 1 1/2 hours.
- Place the rack in the middle and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat muffin cups with non-stick spray, or use muffin liners for easier release. Fill cups to 3/4 full and press 3 blackberry halves into the batter.
- Bake until cakes are golden brown and just cooked through, 15-16 minutes. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then remove cakes from pan. Dust with powdered sugar just before serving.