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This classic French ‘petit four’ derives its name from its cute, rectangular shape which looks like mini gold bars. Another theory says that the cake became popular in the financial district of Paris surrounding the Paris stock exchange. No matter what the origin of the name, the financier smells [and tastes] just as sweet!

Though you might find the ingredient list rather basic, the secret that goes in the making of a good financier lies in the combination of browned butter and lightly toasted almond flour, two key ingredients that account for its rich, buttery flavor. The batter owes its delicate texture to beaten egg whites and can be stored in the refrigerator, making it a good bake-ahead project on weekends or anytime you have extra egg whites waiting to be put to good use.

I was quite excited at the idea of using my new silicon pan for these mini cakes from Baking at Tiffany’s, who adapted the recipe from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel. While the plain financier with its browned edges and golden crumb is a treat on its own, you can always go one step ahead with fresh blueberries or raspberries to add a dash of colour to your little almond bars. I have a good mind to try them with pistachios next.

FINANCIERS

Ingredients:

1/2 cup + 1-1/2 tablespoons (120 g) sugar

1/4 cup + 1 tablespoons (40 g) unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons (60 g) almond meal

100 g egg whites or egg whites from about 3 large eggs

1/2 cup (100 g) unsalted butter, browned

1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 425 oF and butter 12 financier molds or a mini-muffin tin. Refrigerate buttered tin.

  • Sift together sugar, flour and almond meal into a bowl. Create a well in the center of dry ingredients.

  • Add in the egg whites and whisk together by hand until all the ingredients have been well combined.

  • To brown the butter, melt butter in a sauce pan over low to medium heat until bits begin browning.

  • While still hot, slowly pour browned butter into batter, simultaneously whisking batter till combined.

  • Evenly distribute batter among molds or mini-muffin tin wells, leaving about 1/8″ space from the rim.

  • Lower oven temperature to 350 oF. Bake on the center rack for about 20 minutes or till golden brown.

The aftermath of Valentine’s day is that you will probably end up with more chocolate than you can possibly eat even if you plan to go on an all-chocolate diet. While I still have my stash of Christmas chocolates (along with an enormous jar of Nutella spread) preciously stowed in a cool, dark corner of my kitchen cupboard, I have been at a loss of think of a recipe that might tempt me to get them out of their hiding place… until I discovered these Chocotella cupcakes.

In fact the original recipe, from Taste.com.au, has each cupcake frosted with a swirl of Nutella, whipped cream and a Ferrero Rocher elegantly balanced on top. I, however, was intent on using my mini muffin pan to make smaller cakes and had to dismiss the idea of having a Ferrero Rocher perched on top of something this small, which would surely make it look ridiculously out of proportion. For my next batch of Choctella cupcakes, I plan to include a Nutella centre inside and dunk the Nutella topped cakes in hazelnut praline and christened them as Fererro Rocher cupcakes.

CHOCTELLA CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

70g brown sugar, firmly packed

50g butter, room temperature

40g dark chocolate, chopped

60ml (1/4 cup) cold water

1 egg, room temperature

75g (1/2 cup) self-raising flour

25g (1/6 cup) plain flour

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

120g (3/8 cup) Nutella

Whipped cream, to serve

Chocolate flakes or sprinkles

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan forced. Lightly grease and line a mini muffin pan with paper cases.

  • Place sugar, butter, chocolate and water in large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook for 3 minutes.

  • Stir until melted and smooth. Set it aside to cool. Add the egg to the chocolate mixture and whisk well.

  • Sift flours and cocoa over egg mixture. Gently fold in until just combined. Divide mixture among pans.

  • Bake the cakes for 12 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean.

  • Transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool completely before frosting. Spread cupcakes with 1tsp Nutella.

  • Top cupcakes with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate flakes or sprinkles. Makes 12 cupcakes.

Chocolate + Nutella

Blueberries are now easy to find in any major grocery store in the fresh fruit section. They typically come in tiny 100-125g punnets ranging anywhere between Rs125 to Rs200, the price tag usually being dependent on its country of origin and freshness level [be careful with the ones on sale and do not feel tempted to compromise quality over quantity] Pick berries that are firm with a uniform indigo colour, the attractive purplish blue hue actually contains several beneficial anthocyanins, colorful pigments that function as function both as antioxidants and as anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. If you are somehow unable to locate fresh blueberries, you may try to use frozen ones though I doubt that it will compare with fresh berries in terms of looks and taste. For my very first time baking with blueberries, I wanted a recipe that would do them justice and my Google hits convinced me to go ahead with the legendary Jordan Marsh’s version which seem to be the ultimate blueberry muffin recipe around. Taken from A Family Feast, these big, fat muffins with their glorious sugary crown definitely make it all the way to my 10 all-time best muffins ever.

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter, softened

4 tablespoons shortening

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

1 cup white pastry flour

1 cup bread flour

1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 400 oF with rack in the center. Spray the inside of a 12 cup muffin tin with pan spray.

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and shortening for one minute with the paddle attachment.

  • Add sugar and beat on medium for about a minute. With machine on medium, add one egg at a time.

  • Blend to mix. Scrape sides then beat on medium for two and a half minutes to whip air into the batter.

  • Add vanilla and beat for a few more seconds to combine. Remove 1/2 cup blueberries to a small bowl.

  • Mash with a fork or potato masher. Set aside. Sprinkle whole blueberries with two tablespoons flour.

  • Mix both flours, salt and baking powder in a small bowl and stir few times to mix the dry ingredients.

  • Start adding the flour mixture and the milk a little at a time with the mixer running. Do not over mix.

  • Remove mixing bowl to a counter and fold in the mashed blueberries, then fold in the whole berries.

  • Using an ice-cream scoop, divide batter mixture between ten cups of the prepared 12-cup muffin tin.

  • The batter will be piled high above the rims. Sprinkle the final granulated sugar over the muffin tops.

  • Immediately place pan in oven and bake for five minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 375 oF.

  • Bake muffins for 20 more minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Remove to a rack to cool.

Jordan Marsh’s Blueberry Muffins

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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