Like many of the dry sweetmeats of the eighteenth century, financiers are a cross between little cakes and cookies. Usually prepared with almonds, this recipe may be varied to use pistachios, which Thomas Jefferson cultivated for some years, most likely having purchased the trees from Italy or elsewhere in Europe (Leighton 236). Flavored with orange, vanilla, nutmeg, and liqueur, these cookies would have appealed to the eighteenth-century palate.

Makes 2 dozen cookies

  1. 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
  2. 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  3. 2 tablespoons orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Triple Sec)
  4. 1 cup almonds, toasted (see Toasted Nuts)
  5. 1 cup all-purpose flour
  6. 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  7. 1 orange, zest grated
  8. Pinch of ground nutmeg
  9. 5 large egg whites
  10. Pinch of salt
  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Butter and flour 24 financier molds (available at specialty kitchenware stores) or miniature muffin pans, and refrigerate for later use.
  • To make brown butter (beurre noisette): Fill a stainless steel bowl with ice water. Cube the butter, and melt it in a small saucepan over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter until it begins to brown. When the butter begins to brown, remove it from the heat and shock the pan in the ice water bath. Carefully mix in the vanilla extract and orange liqueur-the mixture may spatter. Set aside the brown butter, at room temperature, for later use.
  • In the bowl of a food processor, add the toasted almonds, flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the orange zest, and nutmeg; process until finely ground. Set aside.
  • In the immaculately clean bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment on medium speed, whip the egg whites and salt until they begin to foam. Slowly add the remaining 2/3 cup of the sugar in a thin steady stream. Once all the sugar has been added, increase the mixer to high, and whip the meringue to medium peaks. Transfer the meringue to a separate bowl.
  • Check to make sure the brown butter is cool - if not, place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Fold a quarter of the almond-flour mixture into the egg whites. Fold a third of the cooled brown butter into the whites. Proceed with another quarter of the flour mixture and a third of the brown butter until the mixtures are complete and the batter is thoroughly combined and smooth. Chill the batter for 2 hours.
  • Fill the prepared molds halfway with the batter, put them in the oven, and immediately
  • reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake 7 minutes, or until golden. Cool briefly on wire racks, and unmold the financiers while still warm.

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