I was going through my freezer the other day, rearranging its contents to fit some new purchases, when I came upon a bag of frozen cranberries. Now I know that it’s spring and we should be revelling in all the fresh spring fruit in our markets, but I’m a big fan of the puckery power that cranberries possess and couldn’t help making a little something with them – so I baked some lemon-scented financiers and popped a few cranberries on top.
If you’re not familiar with financiers, they’re buttery little cakelets that are crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. They’re distinctive in that they’re made with browned butter, which gives them a marvelous nutty flavour. Though traditionally they’re made in little rectangular pans that make them look somewhat like gold ingots, I decided to use a cheesecake/molten cake pan that had round indents with straight sides, and I suppose you could say they’re an oversized version of our humble Canadian loonie!
Lemon Cranberry Financiers
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup blanched almond slices
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cake flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon zest
4 large egg whites, room temperature, lightly beaten
fresh or frozen cranberries
Preheat oven to 375F.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter, swirling pan occasionally, until the milk solids separate and sink to the bottom, become grainy and brown to the colour of hazelnuts. Remove from heat and strain to separate the solids. You should end up with about 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon of browned butter.
Use some of the browned butter to butter your pan. (Note: I folded a paper towel into a cone to do my straining, and used the butter-soaked paper towel to butter my pan afterwards. Dual purpose!) If your pan is not nonstick, you should also flour the insides by spooning some flour into each hole, rotating the pan to make sure the flour adheres to all sides, and then tapping the pan upside-down to remove any excess flour.
Combine the granulated sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl, using your fingers or the back of a small spoon to press the oils from the zest into the sugar. It starts to look and smell divine, which is why I had to take a photo of my lemon sugar.
In a food processor, combine the almonds and powdered sugar until they are finely ground.
Sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the ground almonds and lemon sugar and combine with a fork.
Add egg whites one by one, stirring lightly to combine. It’s important not to overwork the batter, or your financiers will be tough.
Pour in the browned butter in a steady stream, stirring until you have a smooth batter. Divide batter evenly into the recesses of your pan. (I used a 3 tbsp ladle and a pan with 3″ circular holes and got 10 financiers of 3/4″ height.)
Bake for 5 minutes, then add a few cranberries to the top of each financier. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges, remove your financiers, and let cool for another few minutes on a wire rack.
Serve them while they are still warm to fully enjoy the contrast between the crispy outside and the warm, tender inside! These have a delicate flavour and are not too sweet, but are very buttery and rich, so tea would be a good accompanying drink.