The sweet story of financiers

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Serious Eats explains that the financiers were inspired by cakes founded by nuns of the Order of the Visitation in France. Called visitandine, they were vanilla sponge cakes. The culinary blog Delightful Repast suggests that the cakes were created with the aim of not wasting. Apparently the nuns used egg yolks in some of their arts, which left an abundance of egg whites, a key ingredient in visitandine. At the end of the 19th century, a baker named Lasne operated a bakery near the financial district of Paris. His clientele included many men who worked in banking and finance, and in an effort to woo them he began making visitandine in the shape of small rectangles. They looked like gold bars, which gave them the name of financiers.

MasterClass describes financiers as small cakes made with brown butter, egg whites, white flour, and ground almond powder. They should be moist inside with a nice crispy outer shell. Although classically made with almonds, many bakers also use hazelnuts or pistachios. They are similar in size and texture to French madeleines, but they are made with different ingredients. For the classic rectangular shape, you’ll need a specific financier pan, but if you don’t have one, a mini muffin pan will do.

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