A Rich Dessert
Originally called “Visitandines” made by French Sisters of the Visitation during the middle ages, this unique dessert has evolved over time. In 1890 a pastry chef, known as Lanse, whose shop was located next to the French stock exchange, enticed buyers by baking the small cakes in molds resembling bricks of gold bullion. The resulting sweet almond desserts were a hit and the “Financier” was born. While still extremely popular in Europe, they aren’t as well known in the United States.
Originally made without fruit, the addition of strawberries makes for a sweet and tart option. These cakes are made with almond flour, egg whites, sugar and beurre noisette (brown butter) and can be formed in a variety of shapes and sizes. Add any type of berry or leave out the fruit. Both are delicious options. While I haven’t tried a bananas foster version, I imagine it would be wonderful. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do here at my home.
Need to Save Time?
This is a dish that can be prepared the day before use. Once the batter has been mixed it can hold in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before you baking. Similarly, the strawberry compote can be prepared in advance. However, the Grand Marnier Chantilly cream should be prepared the same day, ideally right before service. It will last a few days in the refrigerator, but it’s best when served fresh.
- mixing bowls
- 9x13 rectangular pan
- non stick parchment paper
- measuring cups and spoons
- cooling racks
- sharp thin knife for cutting
- 4 cups strawberry, cleaned and hulled (These are to be used to make both the fresh and strawberry compote below) Remember to save 1 cup of strawberries halved to add to the batter. 3 cups of strawberries are used to make the strawberry compote.
- 20 tbsp butter (beurre noisette) (20 tbsp is = to 2.5 sticks of butter)
- 2 ½ cups almond flour or super fine almond meal
- 2 ½ cups confectioners/icing sugar
- 1 cup rice flour
- 12 whole egg whites, seperated or store bought (Save the yolks for another use like Hollandaise or Ice cream custard.)
- ½ cup almonds, slivered blanched (optional)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp vanilla (Traditionally you can add almond extract instead of vanilla, depending on preference.)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup strawberry, fresh halved
- ⅓ cup strawberry compote (recipe follows)
- 3 cups/split strawberries, cleaned and hulled (Cook 1.5 cups of strawberries with the sugar and lemon juice. After the strawberries have rendered a sauce, add the second 1.5 cups of strawberries and stir to mix in. Remove from heat.)
- ½ cup sugar, granulated
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tbsp super fine or confectioners/icing sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp grand marnier
- orange zest (optional)
- mint leaf (optional)
- Wash and clean strawberries. Cut/hull the tops of the strawberries and reserve. You will use half of the strawberries in the cake mix and the other half for the topping. Reserve.
- Separate 12 eggs and reserve the egg whites. Using a whisk, beat the egg whites lightly to loosen and make more uniform. Reserve. (You can use prepared egg whites from the grocery store. Just read the side of the box to convert the correct amount of eggs.) Reserve.
- Preheat oven to 335°F/165°C.
- Prepare a 9x13 inch rectangular cake pan lined with non-stick parchment paper.
- To make strawberry compote add the 1½ cups cleaned strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries start to break down and the liquid released by the strawberries thickens, about 15 minutes. After the sauce has formed, add 1½ cups of fresh strawberries to the sauce, stir and remove from the heat. Reserve. Be sure to reserve 1 cup of fresh strawberries to add to the cake batter.
- To make the Chantilly cream, add heavy cream/whipping cream to a medium-sized bowl. Whip by hand or with a stand or hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners/icing sugar and whip till firm peaks form. Add the vanilla and Grand Marnier and fold to incorporate. Reserve and keep cold in the refrigerator or over an ice bath.
- To make beurre noisette, add the butter to a large sauté pan or heavy bottom pot. Place over medium-high heat and melt the butter. As the butter melts, swirl the pan occasionally to evenly cook. Watch carefully-when the butter starts to foam, the brown butter is being formed. Continue to swirl until the foaming starts to subside. Remove from the heat immediately to stop the cooking. Do not overcook the butter. It will burn quickly after the brown butter has formed.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer add the almond flour, sugar, rice flour, baking powder and salt. Then add the reserved egg whites. Mix with a whisk until thoroghly mixed.
- Add 1 cup of fresh halved strawberries to the cake batter and stir to incorporate.
- Using a seive strain the buerre noisette into the cake/strawberry batter. Stir to thoroughly combined.
- Add the prepared cake/strawberry batter to the prepared pan.
- Scatter 2/3 cup of the strawberry compote on top of the cake/strawberry batter and place in the preheated oven.
Baking the cake
- Bake at 335°F/165°C for 1 hr or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The crust should be just golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes on a cooling rack. After 30 minutes place another cooling rack over the top of the cake. Carefully lift and rotate the cake upside down. Carefully lift the cake pan off and then carefully peel off the non stick parchement paper. Allow the cake to cool like this for an additional 30 minutes until cool to the touch.
- Place a serving dish or light cutting board on top of the cake and re-invert once again to have the cake right side up. The cake is now ready to be served. Cut into desired shape or size.
- Serve one warm square on a dessert dish. Top with strawberry compote and Chantilly cream. Garnish with a little zested orange and mint leaf if desired.