Left over egg whites?
If you have many recipes calling for just egg yolks, the idea of throwing the perfectly good whites is certainly out of the question in my kitchen. I sometimes make an egg white omelette (not as tasty as the original of course), fluff up pancakes or macaroni cheese, or add to cake batters to make them lighter. However if you asked a professional baker, the first thing that comes to mind would be meringues or pavlovas. I may not be put off by the lengthy process of whisking the egg whites to a peak, followed by long slow baking, and finally the prolonged cooling process involved; however, the real downer is the amount of sugar that goes into making meringues. When you come to think of it’s just sugar and egg-whites, and they have to be really fresh egg whites otherwise I can smell the ‘eggy smell’ straight away. That’s why I hardly bake them.
The French seem to have solved this problem by creating the financier, making it a much more forgiving sweet recipe for putting egg whites to good use. Much less fussy than madeleine or macaroons, they use considerably less sugar and the addition of ground almonds, improves their nutritional profile – well at least makes it more justifiable to enjoy as a treat even with the addition of butter!
Financiers with Strawberry – Makes 12. Adapted, slightly, from the Bourke Street Bakery
Notes: These little almond cakes, also known as friands, can be topped with any seasonal fruit you have around. They can be made into little petits fours by using a small muffin tray designed for that purpose. Substituting half of the ground almonds with ground coconut or ground pistachios is another possibility. These cakes are best eaten on the day, and any leftovers are best kept refrigerated for upto 3 days.
- 150 g / 5 1/2 oz / 1 1/2 cups ground almonds
- 90 g / 3 1/4 oz / unbleached plain flour or white spelt flour or gluten free
- 220 g / 8 oz unrefined icing sugar / or unrefined light soft brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla essence or zest of half a lemon, optional
- 280 ml / 9 3/4 fl oz / about 8free range egg whites
- 200 g / 7 oz unsalted butter, melted
- 6 strawberries, hulled and halved
Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F / Gas 5). Lightly grease a standard 12-hole muffin tin with butter.
Put the ground almonds, flour, icing sugar and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg whites, a little at a time, whisking well after each addition. Pour in the melted butter and flavouring, if using, and whisk through until just combined.
Spoon the mixture into the holes in the prepared tin until they are almost full. Gently place a strawberry half into the top of each financier. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until they are golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes, otherwise they will collapse! Turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely and serve.