Traditional financiers are shaped like gold ingot bars, a nod to the legend that they were created and popularised in Paris's financial district. I like rectangular moulds for the crisp edges they produce, although this recipe bakes well in almost all small moulds. Another distinctive feature of the financier is the beurre noisette, or browned butter. While I love the nutty caramelised flavour that beurre noisette imparts, olive oil works beautifully as a substitute.
140ml good olive oil, plus 1 tsp extra for brushing the moulds
60g plain flour, plus extra for dusting the moulds
200g icing sugar
1 tsp five spice powder (or cinnamon, or star anise)
⅛ tsp salt
120g almond meal
150g egg white (from about 4 large eggs)
zest from 1 small lemon
seeds from ½ vanilla bean
about 20 cherries, stoned and halved
1. Preheat your oven to 220C (200C fan-forced).
2. Use rectangular moulds about 7cm x 2.5cm. Alternatively, you can use small oval or muffin tins. Brush lightly with the extra olive oil and dust all over with the extra flour, rotating to ensure an even coating of the flour. Tap to remove excess, then place in the fridge while you make the batter.
3. Sift the flour, icing sugar, five spice powder and salt into a bowl, then whisk in the almond meal. Make a well in the centre of the mix and pour in the egg white, lemon zest and vanilla seeds. Whisk lightly, gradually drawing in the dry mix, until combined. Finally, add the olive oil and stir until the mixture is smooth. (This mixture can be kept, covered in cling wrap, in the fridge for up to 3 days.)
4. Remove the moulds from the fridge and spoon or pipe in the mixture until it reaches three-quarters of the way up the sides. Place a few cherry halves on top, cut side down (the quantity will depend on how large your moulds are). Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 210C (190C fan-forced) and continue to cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until the edges of the financiers are golden brown and the centres have a slight peak; a skewer inserted into the middle should come out dry. Set aside to cool before removing from the moulds – you may need a small knife to help you release the sides.
5. These financiers will keep moist for a few days, but are best eaten fresh, while the edges are still deliciously crisp.
Tip: If you can find sour morello cherries, their sharpness is especially good for this recipe, though regular black cherries work well, too.