Don't let their petite size fool you. These Orange Pistachio Financiers are rich and indulgent.
Bars of gold
These little tea cakes, known as financiers, came into their name due to their shape. The rectangular shape of the traditional cake mold was reminiscent of a bar of gold. Another tale is that the cakes became popular in the financial district of Paris. All I know is, financiers are rich with a light and moist crumb and a slightly crunchy exterior.
I consider beurre noisette, better known as brown butter, to be the elixir of the gods. It adds so much to recipes, particularly a nutty flavor and aroma. But it is the richness it provides to batters that I think is its most notable contribution.
Perfect teacakes in many shapes
Traditionally financiers are made with almond flour. However, in this recipe, I use unsalted pistachios and grind them finely. Just don't go too far when grinding - you will have pistachio butter. (Which sounds delicious!)
A classic combination of pistachios and orange flavors the teacakes. The addition of oranges adds brightness but also compliments the richness of the butter and the nuts.
While the traditional shape of the financiers is rectangular, any shape will work. I like to be fancy sometimes and use mini brioche molds with fluted sides. But you can easily use a muffin pan and have very pretty little cakes.
After I have zested the orange, I cut it into supremes or individual segments that have the outside membrane removed. It sounds harder than it actually is, but it helps to have a sharp knife.
First cut off the orange peel. Try to get all the white pith off the oranges since it is bitter. Holding the orange in the palm of your hand, cut the orange segments also known as supremes, away from the membrane. First, you cut down along the right side of the segment. At the bottom of the segment, start to cut up, along the left side to release it from the orange. When all the segments have been cut away, you should have just the orange membrane left in your hand.
Quick and easy batter
To assemble the batter, whisk the dry ingredients, including the ground pistachios and orange zest together. Give the egg whites a little whisk to break them up so they will incorporate with the other ingredients better. Add to the dry ingredients with brown butter and vanilla. A quick stir until everything is mixed completely and you are done.
One of the best attributes of a financier, it does not require a lengthy baking time. After about 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, the cakes should be finished. Unmold from the pan when taken out of the oven.
One thing I enjoy about financiers is while they are rich in flavor from butter and nuts, they are not overly sweet. Because of the buttered and sugared mold or pan, the exterior has a delicate crispness. The interior of the cake has a little texture because of the ground nuts but you also get syrupy oranges on top. This little cake has a lot going on despite its size. The Orange Pistachio Financiers give you a lot of bang for your buck!
Orange Pistachio Financiers
- mini cupcake pan or mini brioche molds
- 9 tablespoons butter
- 1 ½ cup unsalted pistachios with shells or ¾-cup shelled
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 egg whites
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of one orange
- 1 orange cut into segments
- To brown the butter, put 8 tablespoons in a small saute pan over medium heat. Let the butter melt. You will see a lot of bubbles and the milk solids will rise to the top. Occasionally scrape the bottom of the pan to see if there is any brown reside. Soon the white bubbles will turn into foam on top of the butter. At this point, the butter should be turning a nutty brown color and there is a lot of residue on the bottom of the pan. Pour the butter and the residue into a container off of the heat. It will continue to brown because of carryover cooking.
- Preheat the oven to 350 °
Prepare the pans
- Melt one tablespoon of butter. With a pastry brush or a paper towel, coat the inside of the pan with butter. Make sure to get all crevices if you are using a fluted mold. Pour a small amount of sugar into the pan, moving it around so that the sugar adheres to the butter. This step will make it much easier to remove the cakes after baking. Also, it adds a nice crunch to the outside of the cake.
Cutting the orange
- With a knife, cut off the orange peel. Try to get all the white pith off the oranges since it is bitter. Holding the orange in the palm of your hand, cut the orange segments also known as supremes, away from the membrane. With a sharp knife, cut down right alongside the membrane and then back up the left side to release the segment. When all the segments have been cut away, you should have just the orange membrane left in your hand.
- If you have a large orange, you may want to cut the segments into smaller pieces. I had really large supremes, so I cut them laterally into thinner pieces.
Mix the batter
- Unshell the pistachios. Only ½ cup of the shelled pistachios will be used for the batter. Set the rest to the side.
- In a food processor, chop the pistachios until finely ground. Stop as soon as the nuts look like they are pulverized. If you process the nuts too long, they will turn into nut butter.
- Combine the ground pistachios with flour, ½ cup of sugar, orange zest, and sea salt. Set aside.
- It helps to whisk the egg whites slightly so that they are incorporated with each other. Add the vanilla extract.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry, using a whisk to completely incorporate all ingredients.
- Lastly, add the brown butter to the batter.
- Chop the reserved ¼ cup of pistachios into small pieces. Sprinkle a few pieces into each mold or muffin pan. Add a few slices of the orange segments. I like to fan the orange slices so that they look pretty when unmolded.
- I used a ¾ ounce scoop to add the batter to the pan on top of the nuts and oranges. This amount is just shy of 2 tablespoons.
- Place in oven and bake for 15-17 minutes. The cakes usually take 16 minutes in my oven. They will spring back if you touch them when they are fully baked and a toothpick inserted in the middle will come out clean.
- After removing the cakes from the oven, unmold them. These will be good for a day or two if stored in a covered container in the fridge.