Pistache

Happy first official day o’ Spring & a belated St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!
In light of things that are green – pistachios come to mind, as I am currently going through a pistachio infatuation.. Pistachio macarons.. cake.. muffins.. biscotti.. FINANCIERS. I love to eat (& make!) them all.

I made pistachio financiers to bring to my family last month for the Chinese lunar new year (in addition to the macarons that vanished upon their sights); the financiers were well received. Nice decadent little morsels, not too sweet, very fragrant (due to the browned butter & fragrance of the pistachio) – also; they are perfect to have with tea or coffee. Little tea cakes. My mother took some back to Washington where my sister was able to try them – she loved them & later told me that she thought they were worthy of being served at my wedding reception!

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Whether they end up at my wedding reception during the coffee/tea hour or no; this recipe is a definite favourite & one that I am more than happy to share. It’s adapted from  Gabriella Gershenson (Saveur). Instead of simply combining the egg whites, sugar & salt; I whisk them into a stiff meringue – which makes the financiers even more light & airy (though I do like a nice dense financier; it’s all about what you’re in the mood for). Also, when the financiers are baked, I flip them out of the baking molds onto a cooling rack & brush them with honey & sprinkle some crushed pistachios on top for a nice aesthetic finish & a touch of sweetness! (otherwise they just look a little brown & drab).

PISTACHIO FINANCIERS
yields 18 tea cakes, depending on what pan/mold you may use

4 oz (or 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of sugar (OR  ½ C sugar + ½ C light brown sugar, if you have any light brown sugar on hand!)
½ teaspoon sea salt
4 egg whites
½ cup  all-purpose flour
½ cup  finely ground lightly toasted pistachios (so fine that you can push them through a sieve)
2 tablespoons of almond flour
½ cup coarsely ground lightly toasted pistachios
1 teaspoon baking powder

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One of the key steps of this recipe is to brown the butter – which is to leave the butter in a saucepan on low heat on the stovetop. Allow the butter to melt & eventually simmer & brown – remove from the element immediately & strain the butter, leaving the milk solids & funk behind. Set aside to cool. Hopefully at this point, you’ve gotten dry ingredients together – I tend to sift my flour, pistachio flour (that I grind at home, I set the un-siftable pieces aside as part of the ‘coarsely ground pistachio pieces’), almond flour & leavening (in this case, it is baking powder) & ultimately whisk them all together. I’m all about maximizing the mixing process.

& the egg whites, sugar(s) & salt: with the whisk attachment on the KitchenAid, whip them into a stiff meringue – if you lack a stand-mixer or egg beater; no worries, a whisk will do just fine – your financiers won’t be as light & fluffy, but rather, a bit more dense – which is not a bad thing! They will taste delicious regardless, they’ll just have a different consistency!

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Fold the dry, including the coarse pistachio pieces into the meringue mixture until combined. Add the browned butter & vanilla extract, mix until well incorporated. Cover the financier batter & place it in the refrigerator for an hour. In the meanwhile, set the oven temperature to 350ºF & butter and flour your baking molds (I’ve used a muffin tin). When the batter has been properly chilled, portion the batter evenly – depending on whether you desire a tall tea cake, portion more; or if you’d like squat & petite cakes, portion less. If you’d like even more petite cakes; use a miniature muffin pan! Depending on how you portion, you may have leftover financier batter that you can stick back in the fridge for round two of baking (unless you have a plethora of muffin tins to bake all in one go). Bake until golden brown; approximately 15 minutes. After they are baked, turn them out onto a cooling rack upside down – brush with honey or simple syrup & sprinkle some more pistachio pieces on the honey’d surface as garnish. Enjoy!

& on one final pistachio related note, here’s a shot of a pistachio cake (with a honey rose Swiss buttercream) that I made for my fiancé’s open studio guests recently – it was delicious & let’s just say that it was quickly devoured (there were two other cakes there – but given the choice between this, red velvet or chocolate? Pistachio would clearly win (: )

ImageAny other pistachio enthusiasts out there? I know that I can’t be the only one!

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