|Wheat and almond flour version|
When it comes to the choice between coffee and tea, my preference is not always clear. I like a strong cup of café latte in the morning and a more soothing green tea later in the day. When it comes to dessert, I do prefer a matcha financier than a coffee one. They are perfect sweet indulgence for an afternoon tea or coffee break or as after-dinner dessert.
In essence, financiers are almond cakes with brown butter. Don’t be afraid to leave some dark bits of browned butter in the batter. They add flavor and give financiers a speckled appearance. The batter can be made ahead and chilled in the refrigerator. It won’t take long before these cakes show up on the table.
I have used matcha in cheesecakes, which is one of my favorites. If you’ve never used matcha before, you might want to give this exquisite ingredient a try.
Matcha is Japan’s oldest tea, brought back to Kyoto by Buddhist monks in the 9th century from China. Today the highest grade of matcha is still harvested there in the ancient tea gardens in Kyoto, where most all of Japan’s best tea are grown. Matcha is a powdered tea made from shade-grown tencha leaves. A few weeks before harvesting, the tencha leaves are shaded over to boost the chlorophyll and other flavor compounds.
There are several grade levels of matcha tea. The top grade is called “thick tea,” made from the finest shade grown spring tencha leaves harvested and is reserved for tea ceremonies. The next level of matcha produced is called “thin tea” for everyday use. A third, and least expensive, grade is the culinary or commercial grade matcha, used in baking to add color and flavor to cakes, ice cream, lattes, and other green tea flavorings.
A friend (of Japanese descent) gave me some high-quality matcha that I used to bake these financiers. You could notice that these financiers have a dark green color instead of a lighter shade of green we typically see in most green-tea flavored drinks or ice cream. The commercial grade generally contains addictives and other food coloring; hence a more vivid green. The finer and more expensive matcha would have been better presented in a small cup of tea instead of baked and combined with the dominating flavor of brown butter and almond flour. Lesson learned!
The color green is so appropriate for these little cakes named for the money crowd: les financiers of Paris. I came across a fig-hazelnut financiers recipe on the New York Times a few years ago and has adapted it for a gluten-free almond version using matcha powder for flavoring and color. David Lebovitz uses 1/4 tsp of baking powder (preferably aluminum-free) to leaven the batter and increases the amount of all-purpose and almond flour (using 60g and 75g, respectively). The rest of the recipe is the same. Won’t hurt to give it a try next time. Recipes are guidelines. Feel free to diverge and take a path all your own.