I somehow found myself with an excess of vanilla beans, which in my opinion, is a luxury and therefore something special needed to come of it.
Steph from http://awhiskandaspoon.wordpress.com/ answered my request with a few ideas and offered recipes if I needed them. One of Steph's offerings was Financiers. I liked the sound of it and got this recipe in return, which is when I realised Financiers are Friands, at least that what I knew them as.
The style of baking was different to any type of cake I'd made in the past, but I quite enjoyed assembling in such a different manner and was extremely pleased with the end result.
I followed the recipe to the letter, and added some chopped strawberries and sliced almonds on top. My Friand tray only holds 6, so I had way too much mixture left over, so I made a little cake too! They were gorgeously soft and moist and just perfect. I will definitely be making these again, thanks Steph.
1 cup almond meal
1⁄2 cup flour
1 vanilla bean
225g unsalted butter
7 egg whites
1 cup icing sugar
1⁄2 cup sugar
1⁄2 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 180C.
First you need to brown the butter with the vanilla bean. Split the vanilla bean open and empty the tiny black seeds into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the vanilla bean and the butter and cook until the mixture caramelizes and emits a rich nutty vanilla aroma. The butter will turn golden and there will be little browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, fish out the vanilla bean, dry it and save it for another use.
Next, in a bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk together the egg whites and the two sugars until the whites become warm to the touch and the white sugar has dissolved. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Slowly whisk the flour, ground almonds, and salt into the egg whites. The mixture will become thick and smooth.
Using a ladle, add approximately 1/4 cup of the vanilla brown butter at a time to the egg mixture and whisk until incorporated. Repeat this process until you have added all the butter. This step is very important. You must whisk the butter into the egg mixture slowly making sure that it is incorporated into the batter slowly. Adding the butter too quickly will not emulsify the butter properly which will result in a greasy and heavy cake.
Pour into buttered 10" cake tin or lined muffin/friand cups. Bake at 180C until the cakes are golden brown.