These fig financiers are a version of French almond tea cakes but made with brown butter, bay leaf, extra vanilla and a fresh fig nestled in it!
San Francisco is an oddball when it comes to weather. While the rest of the country is crazy hot in the summertime, we’re cool and foggy…unless we’re in a weird heat wave. Or hazy and smoky with the fire season. But the one things I can count on to help signify the changing of the seasons from summer to fall is the slow disappearance of berries and stonefruit and the appearance of figs! Fresh figs means I can eat them out of hand, putting them in my yogurt and oatmeal as well as make my fig and honey focaccia. But I’ve also been wanting to make brown butter financiers forever, and nestling figs in each of the financier elevates these almond tea cakes to the next level!
What’s a financier?
A financier is a small French pastry that is made with almond flour, egg whites and brown butter. The traditional financier is baked in a small rectangular loaf, which requires a specialty pan.
Though traditional financiers require this specialty pan, which you can purchase online (<- Amazon affiliate link), I opted to bake them in a standard muffin tin, which most folks have in their house. The financier is equally delicious, just baked in a different shape!
How did financiers get their name?
When baked in their traditional rectangular shape, these tea cakes are similar in appearance to gold bars, which is one theory of where the name financier comes from. Another popular theory they were often sold in the financial district of Paris in the 1800s, where the pricey tea cakes (the ingredients used to make them were expensive at the time) could only be afforded by the financial investors working nearby. And finally one story says that the French enjoy a mid-afternoon snack at the sweet shop, and they needed something that would be easy to eat that wouldn’t be messy, as they were in their work clothes. The financier was the perfect solution!
How do you make a financiers?
Similar to a French madeleine cookies, the financier cake is made by first creating brown butter. I opted to add fresh bay leaves to the butter as I cook it, which gives an elusive autumnal scent to the butter.
To make the bay leaf brown butter, you place the butter and bay leaves in a large skillet, preferably one with a silver bottom. Then slowly cook the butter until it is melted and the milk solids have turned golden brown and smells fragrantly nutty. Discard the leaves and set aside the butter to cool.
Grease a muffin pan with melted butter and preheat the oven. Stir together the almond flour, sugar, flour and salt in a large bowl with a balloon whisk. Then add in the egg whites, folding until absorbed.
Mix in the brown butter and the vanilla then divide the batter into the prepared muffin tin. Nestle in half a fresh fig into each cup of batter and bake until golden brown.
Can I make these financiers in a more traditional manner without the figs and bay leaf?
Yes! This is an excellent base recipe for financiers. Just omit the bay leaf when browning the butter and bake the financiers without the fresh fig.
You might want to reduce the vanilla down to 1 teaspoon or use a mix of 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract for a plain financier. Or keep the full 1 tablespoon for a robust vanilla flavor.
Frequently asked questions
Typical financiers keep really well, for up to one week in an airtight container at room temperature. However, these fig financiers should be eaten sooner, within two to three days as the fresh figs will spoiler faster! Store the fig financiers in an airtight container in the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature (about 30 minutes on the counter) before serving.
Yes! You can easily freeze these financiers. Just freeze them first on a baking sheet, until frozen solid, about 2 to 3 hours. Then store them in an airtight container or in a ziplock bag. They will keep in the freezer for up to 2 months.
If you like these Fig Financiers, check out these other small individual sized baked goods:
- Bay Leaf, Vanilla and Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
- Brown Butter Blondies
- Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Streusel Cookies
- Fig and Hazelnut Scones
Fig financier with brown butter, bay leaf and vanilla
To prepare pan
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 cup almond flour 140 g
- 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoon white granulated sugar 175
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour 45 g
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 fresh figs
- Preheat an oven to 375°F. Grease a standard 12 cup muffin tin by brushing the bottom and sides generously with the melted butter. Place the muffin tin in the refrigerator for the butter to cool and solidify as you make the financier batter.
- Place the butter and bay leaves in a large skillet. Turn the heat to high and melt the butter. Reduce the heat to medium once the butter has melted and continue to cook. Cook the butter and bay leaves, stirring frequently, until the solid butterfat particles has settled out and started to turn light brown. Remove pan immediately from heat and continue to stir, letting the residual heat cook the butterfat until they are golden brown and it smells nutty and rich. Let the butter cool for about 10 minutes, then remove the bay leaves and discard.
- Place almond flour, sugar, all-purpose flour, and salt in a large bowl and whisk until all ingredients are uniformly distributed. Add the egg whites and fold in to dry ingredients until absorbed.
- Add the brown butter and vanilla to the batter and mix until well blended.
- Take the chilled muffin tin out of the oven and evenly divide the batter into the muffin tin. It should be about a scant 2 tablespoons per cup, barely filing the cup halfway. If you have a scale, each cup should be about 45 to 50 grams. Cut the figs in half and nestle half the fig into the top of each financier.
- Bake in the oven, 15 to 18 minutes, or until the top of the financier is light brown and the edges are a darker golden brown. Immediately run a thin knife around the edges of each financier carefully to loosen it from the pan. Then let cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the financier to firm up, then remove carefully and let cool on a wire rack.
J. Puz says