I’ll admit that I was skeptical about this week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie. The choice was a Caramel-Almond Custard Tart. The recipe reads like a sweet quiche with nuts on top and that just didn’t seem appealing. However, I enjoy my Fridays with the Doristas, so I soldiered on.
Each time we use it, I remember that the sweet tart crust is one of my favorite discoveries in Around My French Table. The cookie-like crust comes together easily, and I love the press-in method, with no rolling or waiting required.
The filling starts with a simple caramel. I think I’m gradually losing my fear of molten sugar. This caramel is slower to brown than others. I think because it’s more like caramelizing a heavy sugar syrup than just plain sugar. That also made it less scary. It boiled madly for a few minutes and then turned a lovely shade of brown and was ready. My caramel did seize up when I poured room-temperature cream over it, but it smoothed out, just as Dorie promised, after sitting for a few minutes.
While the caramel rested, I whisked eggs with sugar, salt, and milk to make a custard base, then added the caramel cream. At this point, I was still reminded of quiche filling.
Toasted sliced almonds are scattered over the tart crust, then the filling gets poured on top. The tart was practically overflowing, so it was challenging to move the pan to the oven. I did manage to do it without spilling a single drop.
The tart needed to bake for a long time. After 35 minutes, it had not puffed at all. After 45 minutes, it started to puff on the edges, but not the middle. After 55 minutes, the middle was puffed but still very jiggly and not feeling firm. I finally decided it was enough after about 65 minutes, which was 20 minutes more than the recipe said.
It was also much later than I anticipated. I was hoping the tart would cool down to close to room temperature so we could try it before bedtime. Wanting to taste won out over waiting for it to reach the ideal temp, so the first try was on the warm side. To my surprise, it didn’t taste quiche-y at all. In fact, it reminded me of a warm pecan pie made with almonds, even though the fillings are drastically different. I really liked it. Howard was less sure.
I had a cold piece with breakfast to see if the texture changed after the tart cooled down. I found the filling smoother this morning and still delicious.
This week, we’re baking again for French Fridays with Dorie. After last week’s confusing categorization of a sweet-savory nibble, this week’s recipe is firmly in the land of sweets: financiers. Financiers are little buttery almond cakes, traditionally baked in the shape of a gold ingot, that were created by Patisserie Lasne in Paris as a snack for the stockbrokers at the Bourse.
I’ve been fascinated by this recipe for ages. In my embarrassingly large (or should I say ginormous) collection of clipped recipes, I’m sure there are at least a dozen variations for financiers. And yet, before this week, I’d never made them before. I was very excited to try.
For something this rich and delicious, the batter is surprisingly simple to make. First, you brown some butter. Then, you combine almond flour, sugar, and egg whites, and heat this mixture until it gets hot. Some flour is added, and finally the butter is whisked in, and you have batter. The batter does need to rest overnight.
I’ve only browned butter once, before for another Dorie recipe. The process took a little longer than I expected, but it was meditative. I fell into a trance while I carefully watched the butter boil. Then, in an instant, it smelled nutty and turned a lovely shade of brown.
I used almond meal from Trader Joe’s which has flecks of brown from the skin, so my batter had a wholesome, rustic look. I suppose the French patisseries use almond meal or flour made from blanched nuts, for a more refined look.
I didn’t have a special financier pan, so baked my little cakes in mini-muffin tins. Actually, I’ve made one pan full and have enough to bake at least another dozen today. The batter will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator, so the pleasure of slightly warm nutty goodness can be extended throughout the week.
I didn’t have any fresh berries on hand, but you can also adorn each cake with a berry before baking. I’ll try to remember that in raspberry season this summer.
Financiers are definitely a good snack, not just for French stockbrokers, but for anyone, anywhere.
If you’d like to try these yourself, you can find the recipe here. And, you can always find it in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table. To read about other bloggers’ financiers, check out their links here.