Brown the butter! That’s the first instruction in this month’s Bon Appétit for this delicious little recipe. “Ok, I will,” I replied. I’d only browned butter once before, for a fish recipe, and erroneously thought “how hard can it be?” I rose early on Sunday, using Mother’s Day as an excuse to make these decadent little treats. After placing almost 1 cup of butter (!) in a saucepan over medium heat, I got on with the rest of the recipe, as one does. Then I waited. Then I stirred and noticed that not much was happening, other than a little boiling of the butter, which worried me just a tad. Then I waited some more. I played with the flame for a while, I scraped, though there was nothing to scrape. Just when I was contemplating chucking in the melted butter and getting on with my life, there were browned bits! Then suddenly the whole mess of melted butter was a deep golden brownish color, with actual browned bits, the separated fat I suppose, to scrape! Boom, it was perfect. So were the resulting cakes.
I brought most of them to mom, who seemed a bit surprised that I had brought her “muffins” as her Mother’s Day gift. “They’re not muffins,” I kept insisting, though we set them aside to be enjoyed after our lunch en Provence. I mean Detroit.
“They’re financiers.” That’s French for “financers.” There are a couple of possible origins of this unusual name; one is that they were traditionally enjoyed by those who worked at the Paris stock exchange. The other is that they are, in France anyways, rectangular shaped, like a gold bar. Here, we have to settle for mini muffin molds…but I assure you, they are not muffins!
In the meantime, anticipating our July trip, we dined on crêpes, en plein air bien sûr, at Le Petit Zinc, otherwise know as “Provence in Detroit.” (Get it? This blog is called Provence in Ann Arbor…ok, moving on).
They did not disappoint with their jambon fromage crêpe and petite salade. They even serve their water in old wine bottles, just. like. in. France!
The weather, the garden boxes, les fleurs,
and the gurgling fountain (not to mention the French family seated just next to us) added to the enchantment of the day.
And just to drive my point home a bit more, I stood in le parking and took the following pictures. To see is to believe.
See?! There IS indeed charm to be found in the Motor City. You just have to look carefully. Allez-y! Go! And if you require wine, bring your own. I will next time.
We then headed back downriver and finished our lovely day with a beverage of the iced variety and a relaxing rest by the river, as we often do.
Overall, I think mom was happy with her day, especially when she phoned me three times (!) the same night to tell me how good those “not muffins” were. They are seriously délicieux! Je ne regrette pas the $20 I spent for the mini muffin pan.
Blueberry Brown Butter Financiers
Adapted from Bon Appétit, May 2012. Makes 24.
- 1/2 cup + 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup rinsed and dried blueberries
- 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar (+ extra for dusting)
- 5 large egg whites
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or honey)
- nonstick baking spray
1. Brown the butter! Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until browned bits begin to form. You can mix the rest of the ingredients (as browning the butter may take awhile…10-15 minutes at least, though the article claims 5-7). Monitor carefully to avoid burning. Play with the flame a bit if not much seems to be happening, but again, avoid burning. As brown bits form, and trust me they eventually will, scrape them from the bottom until the liquid is a medium brown or dark golden color, with brown bits floating throughout (brown bits = flavor!). Cool.
2. Preheat oven to 375° while the butter cools.
3. In the meantime, add the flour and almonds to a food processor and process until finely ground. Add to a medium bowl along with the powdered sugar and whisk to mix. Add the egg whites and mix until smooth. Finally mix in the maple syrup or honey.
4. When the butter is cooled (not completely but cool enough not to cook the egg whites about 10 minutes, but test with your finger), add to the batter. Mix until it all comes together in a smooth batter. At first it will look like a greasy mess but keep going. It will come together.
5. Prepare a mini-muffin pan with muffin cups and baking spray. Scoop a generous tablespoon of the batter into each muffin cup, making sure to use all the batter. Top with 4-5 blueberries.
6. Bake for 15-17 minutes and let cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove to a cooling rack and serve warm or at room temperature. When they are at room temperature, dust with powdered sugar.
7. Make sure you give some to your mom. She’ll appreciate it!