quinta-feira, 3 de março de 2016

Coconut financier with raspberries, nut free and lactose free...

Financier is a world famous French cake made with almond meal and large amounts of browned butter. Nevertheless, my coconut financiers are made with neither nuts or regular butter. I have just adapted my personal recipe for this deliciously dense cake to be able to serve it to my stepson, who is heavily allergic to nuts. I love financiers and the thick dense texture of these baking-powder-free-and-egg-whites-only cake and have made it with all sorts of nuts. Hazelnut, pistachios, cashew nuts and Brazil nuts are just some of them. You can find the other recipes by clicking the links to Almond financiers, de Hazelnut financiers, de Cashew nut financier and Pistachios financiers.

The Macarons, another world famous French speciality, just like the Financiers, can also be made by using flours of all sorts of nuts and go perfectly well made with any one of those other nuts. And with seeds. Perfectly good Macarons and financiers can be made using flours obtained by finally grounding seeds of all sorts, as you can see in my delicious Omega seeds macarons with Matcha. I made those by grounding a mix of sesame, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds into a fine flour and used it just like I would use the regular almond flour. I added some Matcha, mostly for the color and because the recipe I was using recommended it (you find the link to original recipe I used here), and the result was perfect and that you can see in the pictures. Back to Financiers, well, these cakes can also be made by using ground seeds or, as you can see today, finely grounded dried unsweetened coconut flakes.

I have made Coconut Macarons and they are my all time favorite macarons, they are so light and flavorful and best eaten without filling (I prefer macarons without any filling). I made those also inspired by my nut allergic stepson who had never tried a macaron before I decided to master macarons without the use of nut flours. There might be some people out there who will see those nut free macarons and nut free financiers as culinary anomalies. In some ways they are anomalies, but once the results of my coconut macarons are good, the texture and the looks are just identical to the original ones, the taste is to die for, and allergic people can dive in, I think they are just perfect.

Another thing to be considered, if you want to learn how to make macarons and financiers and do not want to waste money on expensive nut flours, you can start by trying to master them with coconut instead. Once you find a good recipe, just go for it and try as many times as you want, guilty free. Here in Norway the unsweetened dried coconut costs less than 20% of the price of the same of almonds, not to mention the ready made almond flour which costs even more. If, like me, you prefer all organic, it adds up a little more what makes the experiments with coconut worth the try.

Coconut Financier with Raspberries - Nut free and Lactose free

2,5DL (one cup) dry unsweetened coconut flakes
2 DL (3/4 cup) wheat flour (use gluten free flours if you prefer)
2 DL (3/4 cup) confectioners sugar
150g egg whites (4 a 5 claras) at room temperature
150g coconut butter
50g coconut oil
Half vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla powder or vanilla extract)
40 to 50 Fresh of frozen raspberries (optional)


Put the coconut butter, the coconut oil and the scraps of the vanilla bean (not the vanilla extract, that must be added later or it will totally evaporate) in a heavy pan and let it simmer and boil, over very low heat, until the coconut butter starts to look like a very light caramelized liquid and really aromatic. The butter process needs attention because it can go quite fast, keep your eyes on it. Remove the butter from heat and let it cool.

In a food processor (or a coffee grinder) and process the coconut flakes to obtain a not very fine coconut flour. Add the sugar and process until you get a fine and homogeneous mix. Add the wheat flour and pulse a little bit more to incorporate. Transfer the mix of flours to a bowl. Once the coconut butter is lukewarm you are ready to go. Using a whisk the egg whites, in a large bowl, beat the egg white to break them and whisk until they start to look foamy. Add the mix of flours, slowly, in parts. With the whisk, mix until all the flour is incorporated to the egg whites. Finally add the melted butter. If you are using the vanilla extract add it now, with the butter and using a spatula or large metal spoon, mix well and softly until all the butter is incorporated to the batter. Let the batter cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, ideally 1 hour.

Set the oven at 175C (325F) and let it heat while the batter cools. Meanwhile prepare the pans, greasing them well with coconut oil or any other type of grease you prefer. You can use cupcake, muffin or tartelettes pans to bake the financiers if, like me, you don´t really like (and don´t have) the traditional financiers pans. Scoop one or two tablespoons of batter into the prepared pans and press one or two raspberries on top of them. Don´t fill the pans too much because the cake will raise.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove immediately from pan, while warm.

Obs 1. Time of baking depends of the size of the pan. Regular cupcake pans take 15 minutes.
Obs 2. Don´t over bake because it can get really dry.
Obs 3. Don´t let the batter rest in the fridge for too long, differently from the batter made with regular butter, which is very easy to scoop even extra cold, the cold coconut oil get very, very hard and can be very difficult to scoop the batter into the pans if it is really hard. The time in the fridge should be just enough to completely cool the batter, to allow it be scooped instead of poured into the pans.

I used the coconut butter shown in the picture, a delicious creamy butter made of organic coconut. You can just use coconut oil, in case you don´t find coconut oil, or use a mix of coconut oil and the solid part of the coconut milk. To use coconut milk you have to first drain all the liquid that separates from the solids, in the can. Then use the solids of the milk with coconut oil, according to the recipe.

It is funny to speak of macarons and financiers as world famous French specialities since there are, all over the world, many cakes and cookies that are made exactly the same way as the French macaron and financier. Even if they end up looking differently. It is a fact that the French cuisine went viral world wide, the French versions became the rule, but there are amazing versions of those two being made all over the Middle East and Europe, with not so famous names!

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