Walnut and Sage Financiers

September 30th, 2012
“A financier is a small French cake, often mistaken for a pastry. The financier is a light and moist, similar to sponge cake, and usually contains almond flour, crushed or ground almonds, or almond flavoring. The distinctive feature of the recipe isbeurre noisette (brown butter).[1] Other ingredients include egg whites, flour, and powdered sugar. Financiers are baked in shaped molds, usually small rectangular loaves similar in size to petits fours.[1]
The name financier is said to derive from the traditional rectangular mold, which resembles a bar of gold. Another theory says that the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding the Paris stock exchange.

Financier pans are traditionally rectangular, but other shapes are not uncommon.”  (Wikipedia)

While I was in Paris this June, one of the excursions that was high on my list was a visit to E. Dehillerin, the cooking equipment store that has been supplying restaurants, chefs, and home cooks with the tools of their trade for years.  I was specifically looking for financier pans.  I was hoping to find small individual tin molds that were used in years past to shape these cakes.  E. Dehillerin is a treasure trove of esoteric cooking equipment.

Although I did find the individual tin molds, I opted for a small silicone pan with the traditional rectangular shapes.  It was easy to pack for the trip home.  As it turns out, they are readily available on Amazon.  Oh well, I should have chosen the tin molds.  I put the financier mold in the back of my baking drawer because we have had a busy summer. This was the first chance I have had to pull it out and experiment with financiers.

As stated above, financiers are usually made with almond flour or ground almonds with flour.  They are usually studded with fruit like blackberries, raspberries or blueberries.  But I had seen a recipe on the Food 52 website that intrigued me.  It used ground walnuts instead of almonds and sage leaves were frizzled in the browning butter.  Along with the powdered sugar for sweetness, maple syrup was added to the flavor profile.  It sounded like a lovely Fall interpretation to me.

I think you will agree that these airy cakes are both earthy and sweet.  They would be good with tea or even as a slightly sweet accompaniment to soup.  I am looking forward to making some with a fruit filling.  There are so many possibilities.  If you don’t have a financier pan, they can be baked in muffin tins.  You don’t have to fill the muffin cups.  They are supposed to be thin.

WALNUT AND SAGE FINANCIERS ( recipe courtesy of Sugar Mountain Treats)

This recipe makes 12
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
    12 small sage leaves
  • 3/4 cups finely ground walnuts
    2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
    1/3 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 5 egg whites
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Generously butter 12 financier tins or a 12-cup muffin pan.
  2. In a dry frying pan, toast the ground walnuts until fragrant and lightly colored (you can also toast the walnuts before grinding, if you prefer). Do not allow to burn. Set aside in a small bowl and wipe out the frying pan.
  3. Cut the butter into five large pieces and add to the frying pan. Melt over medium heat. When the butter starts to boil, add the sage leaves. Keep a close watch on the pan and remove from the heat when the butter is fragrant and nutty-smelling, with small brown flecks, and the sage leaves are crisp. Pour into a medium bowl. For a perfectly smooth texture, strain the butter; otherwise, just fish out the sage leaves to use later as a garnish.
  4. Add the walnuts, flour, maple syrup, and powdered sugar to the butter and whisk thoroughly. Add the egg whites and whisk some more, until the mixture is completely smooth. It should be pourable. Pour the batter into the prepared tins and press a sage leaf onto the top of each.
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the tops are bouncy (if you’re using a muffin tin, it might take a few minutes longer). Turn off the oven and leave the financiers in to dry for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes, then unmold and serve.
  6. Financiers will keep, in an airtight container at room temperature, for up to three days. I think they’re even better the next day, when the texture is a bit denser

10 responses to “Walnut and Sage Financiers”

  1. I have never heard of Financiers before! They look wonderful. How pretty with the sage leaves…

    Love the pic of you in front of the shop.

  2. bellini says:

    I feel like a cup of tea is needed for these lovely little cakes.

  3. Kate says:

    I have never heard of Financiers….I love to learn new things. These would be just right with a cup of tea in the afternoon…mmmmm…

  4. I want to join Val and you and the Financiers! I’ve seen them but never tried them. Of course, I have no mold. I do have muffin tins and the fresh sage is holding on in the fall garden. Your trip sounds wonderful. I believe I have “been” to that shop with Ina Garten–well, in visual spirit at least.

    Best,
    Bonnie

  5. They look fabulous and isn’t Dehillerin a great place to shop?

  6. marcia smith says:

    Love Dehillerin- one of my favorite places in Paris!!! My favorite rolling pin was purchased there! Glad you got to go!

  7. Catherine says:

    Dear Penny, This is a delightful recipe. You have a beautiful and delicious blog.
    I am now following you. I hope that you will give my blog a visit too. We can be blogging friends.
    Thank you and blessings, Catherine xo

  8. Barbara says:

    I loved E. Dehillerin! I would have brought home trunks-full if I could have. Financiers are one of my favorite treats…love the idea of walnuts and sage in yours. Fun to use herbs in desserts!

  9. […] Traditionally financiers are made with browned butter, almond meal and confectioner’s sugar.  That combination makes a delicious cake.  I have become addicted to them.  You can make your own almond meal by grinding almonds into a fine mix or you can buy almond meal at most health food or specialty grocery stores.  You can make them plain or add fruit such as raspberries or blueberries to the top.  I have even made a savory financier using sage leaves and walnuts.  See that recipe here. […]

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