Hazelnut Financier

My Baking Skills class at the Institute for Culinary Education definitely widened my baking aperture. Before attending the class, cutting up a pre-made log of Tollhouse cookie dough and sticking it in the oven was my definition of baking. I never would’ve thought I’d be baking cakes I can’t even pronounce in English. One of my favorite items on our hit list is the Hazelnut Financier cake (pronounced fee-nahng-syehr). These are lovely French tea cakes, that also go by the name Friands, which aptly means “dainty” or “tasty.” After becoming somewhat obsessed with making homemade Nutella spread, a cake with crushed hazelnuts adorning its top sounded divine.

So many of the dishes I’ve baked have a historical life beyond the oven and my kitchen. There’s always a learning curve for me. Baking Gingerbread was fun but, learning its significance in history was even more interesting.

Historically, the Hazelnut Financier was apparently the rage of Paris in the late 19th century, and several pastry shops based their reputations on it. One pastry shop was located near the Paris Bourse, or stock exchange, and many people believe this cake derived its name Financier, from its proximity to the bourse. Others believe the desserts’ name simply comes from its richness. Financiers were traditionally baked in rectangular molds which were said to resemble bars of gold. Today, they’re baked in many different shapes from round to square to rectangular to boat-shaped.

Financiers start with a batter made by simply stirring together flour, ground hazelnuts, and sugar with lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla extract and butter. The egg whites and the specific way they are beaten and folded with mixture play an integral role in mastering the cakes’ batter production.

Perfecting the art of the perfect “fold”

After many tries, I became a pro at perfecting “egg white peaks.” I now know the perfect peaks are when you can literally see the markings of the beaters in the egg whites. Making sure you don’t over beat the whites will help create your perfect peak.

Financier batter awaiting hazelnuts

Financier with hazelnuts awaiting oven

Again, baking the cake was easy as pie. As usual most of my intimidation came from its name alone. Once I popped it in the oven, it’s just a waiting game. The finished product is simply dusted with confectioner’s sugar and you’re ready to flaunt your hazelnut-based dessert.  Often times this cake is also topped with chopped fruits.

Chances are, this cake will peak your guests’ interest if not for the name alone.

And, you’ll get an A for effort.

And, it sure beats serving cookies cut from the Tollhouse cookie log.

I will be linking up this recipe here: Alli-n-Son; Sugar Bananas; The Shabby Nest; Fingerprints on the Fridge; Tidy Mom; Simply Sweet Home; Tatertots and Jello; Creation Corner; Little Brick Ranch; Mangoes & Chutney; Joy in my Kitchen

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