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Cherry Friands

Updated: Oct 5, 2019


Last month, I realised that I had six egg whites in a container in my freezer. I had egg whites leftover from the time I made some shortcrust pastry as well as pastry cream for my dad's birthday fruit tart (which, to be honest, didn't turn out so well as the shortcrust pastry cracked, but the tart was still tasty nonetheless). I wanted to devise a way to use up the egg whites in my next bake other than turning them into meringues, so I did some research and stumbled upon some very useful information. I found that I could make financiers or friands, which are little almond cakes made with egg whites and brown butter. The only difference (or from what I understood) about the two is that the former is just the cake typically baked in special rectangular moulds, while the latter is the cake with added fruit and/or other flavourings, like vanilla extract or lemon zest. The little cakes looked and sounded delicious in my mind, so I bookmarked them for my next bake.

Fast forward to early June, the beginning of the school holidays. I was browsing through the aisles of the supermarket looking to buy ingredients to make meatballs marinara for family dinner, when I chanced upon a section lined with bags of big, juicy bing cherries.

"It's cherry season! I love cherries!" Naturally I was thrilled and so I happily seized a bag for myself, even though cherries weren't part of the dinner plan. Then I had an epiphany: I could make cherry friands! Thus these little morsels of goodness were born.

These little cakes are sweet, nutty, nicely fluffy and light, with bursts of juice from the cherries. To be clear, I tend to reach for rich, decadent desserts when I crave something sweet (think chocolate cake, ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, etc). But these little cakes really hit the spot. They are perfect for tea and breakfast, in my opinion (and yes, I do have cake for breakfast at times, don't judge).

Best of all, they are really simple to make; you have absolutely no reason not to make them.

 

Cherry Friands (Financiers)

Slightly adapted from Eat Little Bird

Makes 15 regular cupcake-sized cakes

Ingredients

  • 160 g (approximately 12 Tbs) unsalted butter

  • 100 g all-purpose flour

  • 125 g ground almonds

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 250 g icing sugar

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 6 egg whites

  • 30 bing cherries, pitted and halved

  • A handful of slivered almonds, optional

Method

To brown the butter:

  1. Brown the butter. Place unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat and let the butter melt.

  2. Once the butter has melted, let it continue to cook. The butter will begin the bubble. Swirl the pan occasionally and observe the butter carefully. You are looking out for changes in colour as well as aroma.

  3. Once the bubbling has subsided, let the butter cook a bit more until it is brown and nutty in aroma. Pay close attention and do not walk away to do other things as the butter will turn from beautifully browned to burnt if you leave it over the heat for too long. The moment it is browned (the butter will be an amber, dark golden and there will be brown bits at the bottom of the pan), remove it from the heat and pour it into a bowl. Set aside to cool.

To make the friand/financier:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease regular cupcake tins with a bit of the brown butter using a pastry brush.

  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, ground almonds, salt and icing sugar. Stir together to incorporate everything.

  3. In another bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy and it reaches soft peaks.

  4. Using a spatula or large metal spoon, gently fold the egg whites into the dry ingredients until combined.

  5. Add in brown butter and vanilla extract and gently stir everything together until it is combined.

  6. Fill cupcake tins with the batter two-thirds full.

  7. Stuff four cherry halves (i.e. two cherries) into one friand and scatter some slivered almonds on top. Repeat until all the holes are filled.

  8. Bake the friands for 20 to 25 minutes until they are golden and a skewer insert into the middle comes out clean.

  9. Once baked, remove the friands from the cupcake tins and let them cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack.

  10. Enjoy warm or cold, with a light dusting of icing sugar (if you like).

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