There’s been a lot of talk of an early spring here in the Netherlands, and I can’t help but nod in agreement. Daffodils are sprouting up everywhere and tree buds look as though they’re ready to embrace the new season any minute now. The sad reality, however, is that it’s still February and winter has a little more than a month to go. Honestly, I am not much of a fan of winter, so as far as I’m concerned, all of these early signs of spring are very uplifting! Wouldn’t it be wonderful, by the way, if Valentine’s Day fell in the (preferably late) spring?
Though I believe that every day should be Valentine’s Day (and think it’s a hugely commercial holiday), it would be romantic to treat your loved one to a beautiful Valentine’s Day picnic. Gorgeous food, a bottle of something sparkly and wonderful, a checkered blanket, sunshine and a lazy day just for the two of you. But alas, the weather forecast for this coming Sunday predicts snow! Not that there’s anything holding you back from having a romantic picnic on your living room floor in front of the fireplace!
If you’re still wondering what to bake for this occasion, let me suggest my classic French financiers. They are decidedly dainty yet quick and easy to make. The basic ingredients for most financier recipes are ground almonds, icing sugar and egg whites. The ground almonds give them a rich, full flavor somewhat reminiscent of marzipan and in this recipe, the addition of berries adds a fresh, fruity accent. If you like, you can also substitute the fruit for lemon zest or chocolate chips. Both would make an equally delicious variation.
By the way, if you are wondering how these little French cakes got their name, here’s what I’ve heard, and do let me know if you’ve heard otherwise! While some claim financiers owe their name to their shape (they resemble little bars of gold), others claim the name comes from their place of origin. Financiers were first made in the 19th century by a baker whose shop was close to the Parisian Stock Exchange. Whatever the truth may be, what we do know is that they’re addictively delicious!
Happy Valentine’s Day and vive l’amour!
Financiers with Fresh Berries
Makes 18 pieces
- 180g butter
- 70g all-purpose flour
- 150g ground almonds
- 230g powdered sugar
- 5 egg whites
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- fresh blueberries and raspberries
Preheat the oven to 200°C and butter the financier moulds. Sprinkle the moulds with flour, tapping away any excess. Allow the butter to melt on a low heat, wait until it turns a light brown colour and begins to release a nutty scent, then remove from the heat. Mix the flour, ground almonds and powdered sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg whites and the vanilla extract and combine everything well using a whisk. Add the melted butter and whisk vigorously again. Fill the moulds with the batter and place three berries on each mould. Bake the financiers for 5 minutes before lowering the heat to 180°C and allowing them to bake for another 10 minutes. Transfer the financier moulds to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.