I studied French for five years - from high school through college - but I still can't say "financier" properly - 50% of the time it comes out with a harsh American R trailing behind. Fortunately these nut-free pepita financiers are much prettier and more delicate than the sound of their name rolling off my tongue.
Our high school French teacher let us pick French names for ourselves. The name she'd call us. The name we'd write on our homework. Is this a universal thing that language teachers do?
Surely I could have chosen a name like Chloé or Emma like the other girls in my class, but that was so not my style. After all, she said any French name. Thumbing through a French/English dictionary, I chose "Sucre" (sugar) and my girl friend: "Bonbon" (candy). And for the next four years, Madame would scold, "Sucre! BonBon!" at our chatty corner nearly every single day.
To say I've got a thing for French sweets is an understatement. The French know a thing or two about sugar and butter and these little brown butter teacakes are proof. Aptly named for their traditionally rectangular resemblance to bricks of gold, financiers could easily be used as currency in our house - except without the whole savings thing because there won't be any left to invest.
Typically made of ground up almonds and flour, financiers are easy to make gluten-free. Here I've swapped the wheat flour with homemade oat flour to keep them soft and added a smidgen of tapioca starch to draw out enough moisture to create a delicate crumb. This pepita financier version takes them one step further by turning the little brown butter bricks nut-free with home ground pepitas (raw shelled pumpkin seeds) in place of almond flour to infuse a gently nutty flavor that lets the brown butter take center stage.
Plus, the superfood health benefits of pepitas basically cancel out the tablespoon of butter in each cake. Trust me.
Brown butter gets flecked with vanilla bean, folded into a nutty gluten-free batter with juicy nectarines nestled on top, and baked until the edges crispy and the center crumbly and tender. A blanket of butter inside the muffin cups help the financiers pop right out, giving that extra extra crispy edge.
As untimely as it is, this French recipe comes on the heels of a horrible tragedy in France. My heart is breaking for the people of Nice - their loss and their fear is beyond imaginable.
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softed for greasing muffin pan
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- ½ cup + 3 tablespoons (76g) ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds)*
- ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons (44g) oat flour**
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
- ½ cup (104g) cane sugar
- ½ teasopon salt
- 4 large egg whites (136-140g), beaten with a fork until lightly foamy
- 2-3 nectarines sliced into ⅛-inch thick slices
- ½ tablespoon turbinado sugar
- ½ tablespoon honey, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Using a paper towel, generously grease 10 standard muffin cups with 2 tablespoons butter.
- Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the vanilla bean seeds and pod and cook, stirring frequently, until it foams, turns clear golden, then browns and smells nutty and fragrant (be careful not to burn it!). Remove from heat and let cool while you prepare the rest (if it gets too hot, you can transfer it to another bowl to cool to keep it from cooking more). Discard the vanilla bean pod.
- Whisk together the ground pepitas, oat flour, tapioca starch, sugar, and salt.
- Add the lightly foamy egg whites to the dry ingredients and mix to combine.
- Slowly pour the cooled brown butter into the batter and whisk just until completely combined.
- Divide the batter evenly among the 10 muffin cups. Top each with two nectarine slices and sprinkle the tops with turbinado sugar to keep the fruit from drying out.
- Bake for 35 minutes until golden on top and a tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before removing the cakes from the pan. Optional: brush the top of the fruit with honey to make it gently glisten. Financiers are best eaten the same day, but will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, losing their crispy edges over time.
*You can grind up pepitas in a high-powered blender or food processor until fine (be careful not to blend too much or it might start turning to butter). Then sift the flour to remove any large chunks.
*I make my own oat flour by grinding gluten-free oats in the blender until fine.
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