Tag Archives: Using egg whites

Financiers (French Almond and Butter Mini Cakes)

This was one of earliest recipes on my blog. Some time in 2011. It seems an eternity…. The photograph screamed for an update, so when I made another batch last week, I took new photographs and thought I’d write about the financiers once more. I took this decision also because I have recently read on a blog that financiers were time-consuming and nothing really special in taste. I found this really surprising and wondered if fussy difficult recipes were circulating among food bloggers…. I didn’t look into the details of this blogger’s recipe but mine, coming from a more than reliable French source (Leçons de cuisine de l’école Ritz-Escoffier ), is all but difficult to the point where I knew it by heart after maybe only three baking sessions! Actually, it takes about fifteen minutes to prepare the batter (no electric mixer, no kneading, no rolling), there are only five ingredients  and it takes only 15-20 minutes to bake. As for the “nothing really special”, it’s of course a question of personal taste, but even though I crave sweets very rarely these days, I find financiers quite exceptional: they might look like ordinary little sponge cakes, but they are much more sophisticated. They contain hardly any flour, but lots of powdered almonds instead, a generous amount of browned “hazelnut” butter, egg whites… they are incredibly light and literally melt in one’s mouth. I hope I have convinced you to try them at least once!

Contrary to what most people think, at the beginning financiers didn’t have a gold ingot shape, but they had an oval form. Produced since the Middle Ages by the French nuns of the Visitation of Mary, they were not called financiers and had an oval form. Then, for a certain time they were forgotten and around 1890, Lasne, a Parisian confectioner, revived the recipe. Since his shop was close to the stock market and financiers were his regular clients, he named the cakes “financiers” and transformed their form into the one recalling a gold ingot, probably thinking they appealed more to his clients. I find the muffin shape cuter than the lingot, so I always prepare financiers in muffin forms.

TIPS/WARNING: Do not even try to use a different flour (for example wholemeal) or sugar replacement (and never brown sugar!) or skipping the butter…. It will result in vaguely almond-tasting muffins. I have made financiers at least 50 times in recent years (my husband is a big fan and they are quick to make…) and I was once faced with a shortage of each of these: white sugar or white flour or butter. Every time the result was awful. The only thing this recipe stands well is cutting down on sugar’s amount and this is what I’ve been doing since the beginning because we don’t like too much sugar.

I have posted also a financiers with raspberry recipe here. I think raspberries taste wodnerful with almonds, but I guess you can add any fresh fruits you like (but not too many, otherwise the cakes might get soggy!).

Some pastry chefs make pistachio financiers, but I’ve never tried this variation, so I’m not sure if one adds the same amount of powdered pistachio…

If you don’t find powdered almonds (or they are very expensive), buy ground white (peeled) almonds and sift them through a sieve. This is what I always do (then you can use the remaining ground bigger bits of almonds in other less delicate sweets).

BEWARE! You might be convinced (I was too!) that something labelled as “almond flour” would be perfect here… I have recently noticed online products labelled in English as “almond flour” are in reality ground almonds… For this recipe you must use almonds powdered to a point where they resemble almost wheat flour, so if you realise you have coarser product (which frankly should be labelled as almond meal or simply ground almonds), sieve it.

Click here for some ideas of using the remaining egg yolks.

Preparation: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients (6 muffin shaped financiers or 12 mini-muffin shaped):

50 g powdered almonds (not ground but powdered; see the TIP & “BEWARE” above)

70 g caster sugar (I sometimes add 60 g sugar only, but it depends on your sweetness level preferences)

50 g butter

2 egg whites

1 heaped tablespoon white wheat flour

a pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Prepare the “beurre noisette” (lit. hazelnut butter): heat the butter in a pan on a low heat and observe the milk solids, which will separate at the bottom. When they become light brown (hazelnut colour), put the pan aside.

In the meantime combine the egg whites, the sugar, the almond powder, the pinch of salt and the flour in a big bowl. Add gradually the butter, mixing with a spoon (no need to use a mixer or a food processor!).

Pour the mixture into greased – with butter – muffin forms (or other small cakes forms) 2/3 of their height.

Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until light to medium golden.

Let them cool down before taking out of the forms.

 

Easiest Chewy Coconut Cookies (Macaroons)

kokos_pj

If sometimes you don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen, but are in urgent need of easy sweet snacks, you might be interested in these cookies. I believe they are similar to what is called “coconut macaroons” in the USA, but they are much simpler and quicker to prepare. They require maximum ten minutes of work before being baked, you don’t need any kitchen appliances and, last but not least, they call for only three ingredients, which most of you probably always have in the house (sugar, egg whites and desiccated coconut). This, accidentally, makes them gluten free, if I’m not mistaken. As you will see below, you don’t even need any measuring cups or scales: a tablespoon is all you need. Oh, and I would have forgotten: these cookies are the first thing that comes to my mind when I have leftover egg whites.

I posted them a very very long time ago, but I prepare them so often, I couldn’t resist this quick reminder. I have been making them in the same way for many years and this ridiculously simple recipe is the result of my attempts to copy chewy coconut cookies I used to love as a child. I have however a warning to all those who prefer less sugar in desserts:  these cookies are sweeter than most of the desserts I post here! For once I don’t mind it because this sticky, chewy texture I go crazy for couldn’t be achieved with less sugar. I sometimes bake them in mini-muffin moulds, but most of the time I don’t bother and form “pucks” with moist hands and then bake them directly on baking paper.

If you don’t like coconut, you might find these biscuits interesting:

hazelnutcookiespp

Easy Chewy Hazelnut Cookies

TIPS :  Click here to see a few ideas of how to use up leftover egg yolks if you are left with some (I strongly recommend crème brûlée, maybe even with matcha…)

Since the coconut and sugar dryness vary (not to mention the egg whites size), the given quantities can be only treated as approximate. Check the consistency: you should be able to form balls from the dough, but it should remain very sticky and moist.

Preparation: about 30 minutes

Ingredients (about 15 cookies):

2 egg whites
7 flat tablespoons caster sugar
12 well-heaped tablespoons desiccated coconut

Preheat the oven at 170°C.

Take a bowl, mix everything with a spoon, adding gradually sugar and coconut. Since the coconut and sugar dryness vary (not to mention the egg whites size), the given quantities can be only treated as approximate. Check the consistency: you should be able to form balls from the dough, but it should remain very sticky and moist.

Form small balls (medium apricot size) with moist hands, put on baking paper or greased baking tray and squash slightly.

You can also use mini-muffin moulds (any moulds you have and like will do).

Bake the biscuits until slightly golden (about 20 minutes in my oven).

They keep for several days if covered with plastic film.

Financiers with Raspberries

financiersframbp

Financiers count among the biggest wonders in the world of pastry. Few ingredients, simple preparation and marvellous, sophisticated result. I have already written about them quite a long time ago (here), but this new summer fruit version turned out so good, I absolutely wanted to share it with you. As I have written in my old post, Financiers are one of the most famous French pastry items and a pure delight for almond fans. They contain almost no flour, but mainly butter, powdered almonds, egg whites and sugar, so you can imagine how intense the almond taste is.

Baked since the Middle Ages by French nuns of the Visitation of Mary, at first they were not called financiers and had an oval form. Then, for a certain time they were forgotten and around 1890, Lasne, a Parisian confectioner, revived the recipe. Since his shop was close to the stock market and financiers were his regular clients, he named the cakes “financiers” and transformed their form into the one recalling a gold ingot, probably thinking they appealed more to his clients. I usually make my financiers in muffin forms, but this time somehow the rectangular shape seemed more appropriate.

Financiers have different versions and raspberry addition seems quite popular, especially in the summer. When I decided to add the fruits I was worried that their acidity might spoil the perfect harmony of the Financiers. Luckily I was wrong. Raspberries bring a subtle tangy note, but they disturb neither the Financiers’ extremely soft, mouth-melting consitency nor their sophisticated taste. I encourage everyone to try this version before raspberries disappear from market stalls.

My recipe comes from Leçons de cuisine de l’école Ritz-Escoffier . The only thing I have modified is the sugar amount (70 g instead of the original 85g).

TIPS: Financiers are very easy to prepare and are an excellent occasion to use up egg whites. Finding powdered (not only ground) almonds might be difficult. I always buy ground almonds and sift them through a sieve. The leftover, big bits of ground almonds are excellent to prepare the even easier Thumbprint Almond Cookies (see the recipe here) or Kings’ Pie (Galette des Rois), which is also a good way to use up two yolks, leftover from this small batch of Financiers…

Click here for some ideas of using the remaining egg yolks.

The only tricky part is taking the financiers out of the forms. They should be cold and handled delicately.

Preparation: 30 minutes

Ingredients (for 6 muffin forms or rectangular, similarly sized forms or 12 mini-muffin shaped forms):

50 g (about 1,8 oz) powdered almonds

70 g (about 2,5 oz) sugar

50 g (about 1,8 oz) butter

2 egg whites

1 heaped tablespoon flour

a pinch of salt

12 raspberries

Preheat the oven to 190°C.

Prepare the “beurre noisette” (lit. hazelnut butter): heat the butter in a pan on a low heat and observe the milk solids, which will separate at the bottom. When they become light brown (hazelnut colour), put the pan aside.

Combine the egg whites, the sugar, the almond powder, the pinch of salt and the flour in a big bowl. Add gradually the butter, mixing with a spoon.

Pour the mixture into greased – with butter – muffin or rectangular forms (or other small cakes forms) 2/3 of their height.

Place two raspberries in each financier.

Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until golden.

Let them cool down before taking out of the forms.

Sesame Coated Tuna Nuggets (Maguro no goma age)

As you can see I’m getting really obsessed with rolls, skewers, finger food and all types of snacks. In fact, I start serving them more and more often as a part of main courses and find them much more fun to prepare and to eat. Some of you might remember the Sesame Coated Chicken Nuggets I wrote about a couple of months ago. Even though I named them “nuggets”, the recipe is Japanese and was found in  my favourite cookery book (Japanese cooking. A simple art by Shizuo Tsuji). The chicken nuggets were coated in egg white, than in sesame seeds and then deep-fried, i.e. prepared according to the “kawari age” or “variation frying” methods described by Tsuji and consisting in coating deep-fried food in different, sometimes very surprising products. Until now I have tested and adored chopped nori seaweed (Scallops Fried in Nori) and my beloved sesame seeds, which proved wonderful with chicken, but too bitter and strong with scallops.

Last week, when I saw red tuna sold on special price (otherwise it’s horribly expensive), I decided to treat it exactly like chicken breast. I have cut it into cubes, coated with egg whites, sesame seeds, quickly deep-fried and loved it! The fish was soft,  juicy and the sesame seeds formed a crunchy, slightly nutty crust. Moreover, just like chicken nuggets, these were not soaked in fat because sesame seeds do not absorb as much oil as certain coatings.

I had these nuggets twice: first with a bottle of white wine along with other snacks, and then, the following day, I prepared them once more and served with rice and pickles for lunch. They can be dipped in any sauce of your choice, but I found my Hot Mango Sauce a perfect pairing. (It can be substituted by a quick mixture of mango, chilies and vinegar.)

TIP: This is an excellent way to use up egg whites!

Preparation: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves two):

300 g tuna steak

1 flat tablespoon flour

1 egg white

4 heaped tablespoons (or more) white sesame seeds (it depends how thick you want the crust to be) 

salt

oil for deep-frying

Preheat the deep-frying oil (it’s hot enough when a tiny piece of bread thrown into the fat doesn’t “sink” and stays on the surface, instantly browning).

Cut up the tuna steak into bite-sized cubes.

Season the cubes lightly with salt.

Beat the egg white slightly with a fork.

Dry the tuna pieces well with paper towels.

Dredge them slightly in flour, shake off the excess, then in the egg white and at the end roll them in sesame seeds.

Deep fry them for about 30 seconds in small batches  (the time depends on the temperature of your oil and the size of your pieces).

Sesame Coated Chicken Nuggets, or Tori no goma age

 

These humble-looking golden and black chunks are one of my biggest culinary discoveries of this year and the dream dish for sesame seed lovers. The idea to prepare it came while I was leafing through my favourite Japanese cookery book (Japanese cooking. A simple art by Shizuo Tsuji). Some of you might remember Scallops Fried in Nori I have prepared according to “kawari age” or “variation frying” methods described in Tsuji’s book. As a reminder, just like tempura, these methods consist in deep-frying, but first the food is dipped in the egg white and then in different types of coating. After several coating tests on scallops nori proved the best choice, while my beloved sesame seeds gave a bitter and rather unpleasant taste. In spite of this bad experience, I risked the sesame crust on chicken and the result totally blew me away. It was crunchy, nutty, not bitter and, contrary to tempura, it stayed crisp for quite a long time.

I had these nuggets for lunch, with rice and some pickles, but they could easily be served as snacks at a party. My Hot Mango Sauce was the absolute winner among other dips I have tried. I suppose it can be substituted by a quick mixture of mango, chilies and vinegar. Next time I will only stick to white sesame seeds coating. Black ones were slightly bitter and left a strange aftertaste.

Preparation: 30 minutes

Ingredients (serves one):

100 g chicken breast or thigh cut into bite-sized pieces

1 heaped tablespoon flour

1 egg white

4 heaped tablespoons (or more) white sesame seeds

salt, pepper

oil for deep-frying

Preheat the deep-frying oil (it’s hot enough when a tiny piece of bread thrown into the fat doesn’t “sink” and stays on the surface, instantly browning).

Season the chicken pieces lightly with salt and pepper.

Beat the egg white slightly with a fork.

Dry them well with paper towels.

Dredge them slightly in flour, then in the egg white and at the end roll them in sesame seeds.

Deep fry them for about 3-5 minutes depending on the temperature of your oil and the size of your pieces.