The Shape of Coffee + Coffee & Walnut Financiers Recipe
Coffee is a multi-faceted thing. It entices from a number of different guises, speaking to each of us in a slightly different tone, weaving a spell for each of us alone. It communicates without words while gifting us with boldness, vitality, more of what we would like to be. Or maybe I’m just full of chocolate-covered espresso beans!
Seriously though, coffee is an undisputed hero to some and a security blanket for others, but we all have our preferred incarnation. My brother-in-law prefers a deep cup of inky blackness, my husband, a milky pool of a barely bitter brew, and myself, the softly rounded iciness of a coffee gelato. Coffee-rubbed steaks are an old cowboy tradition. And I won’t even mention what coffee gets up to with chocolate but trust me, it’s a thing of beauty.
We can always find beauty in supposed darkness, but coffee does have a rather devious side—consider the coffeecake. Imagine my young, naive surprise when I sat down to something so grown-up as coffeecake one morning, and I learned that all it is is cake you eat for breakfast with coffee alongside and NOT a coffee-flavored cake as any normal person would think that it should be…the nerve!
Well, the truly great thing about actually being a grown-up with my own kitchen is that I can remedy such travesties of reason. The cake I’m going to share with you is in fact a financier—a little French cake (and don’t I just love little French cakes!) made with a high percentage of ground nuts and with eggs whites instead of whole eggs. This results in a rich and slightly dense confection best enjoyed in small mini-muffin form. A little goes a long way, which makes it a perfect breakfast treat. Oh, that and it is flavored strongly, darkly, irredeemably with coffee. Your hero has arrived.
Coffee & Walnut Financiers
Yotam’s recipe, which I’ve adapted here, calls for instant coffee powder plus finely ground espresso. Since I usually have just instant espresso on hand, I used that for both ingredients. The frosting is delicious but very sweet. If you left it off for a slightly more sedate breakfast, the cakes would still be fantastic and only missing a bit of the coffee-ness it would otherwise have.
Oh, and the odd imperial measurements arise from translating the recipe from the metric system for which these recipes were devised. It’s a bit fiddly but necessary if you don’t have a scale.
Adapted slightly from Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Makes 12 regular muffins or 24 mini-muffins
2/3 cup (75 g.) walnut halves or pieces
8 1/2 Tbs. (120 g.) butter, cut into cubes
1 3/4 cups + 1 1/2 Tbs. (220 g.) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup + 1 1/2 Tbs. (90 g.) flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup (80 g.) almond meal
8 oz. (230 g.) egg whites (from about 6 large eggs)
1 Tbs. instant coffee granules, or instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/3 cup hot water
1 1/2 tsp. finely ground espresso coffee, or instant espresso powder
2 cups + 1 Tbs. (250 g.) confectioners’ sugar
2 1/2 tsp. instant coffee granules, or instant espresso powder
2 Tbs. hot milk
1 1/2 tsp. light corn syrup (I used Golden Syrup)
Walnut halves or chocolate-covered espresso beans, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. Cool a bit, then chop roughly. Set aside, and turn oven off.
Heat butter over medium heat till butter foams, swirling occasionally. Continue to cook till the milk solids begin to brown and it starts to smell nicely nutty. Cool slightly.
Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl, and whisk in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the almond meal. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites just till they’re broken up and beginning to froth. Add the whites and the dissolved coffee to the dry ingredients, and stir just till combined. Pour in the browned butter, and stir gently till thick and smooth. Cover and chill 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400°. Grease and flour either regular or mini-muffin pans. Spoon in the batter to fill them 3/4 full. Bake about 23 minutes for regular and 14 for mini-muffins. A skewer inserted in to the center of one should come out clean. Let cool in pan 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool.
For the icing, sift the confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix till smooth. When financiers are cooled completely, spread a bit of icing on each, and decorate with a sprinkle of more espresso powder plus either a walnut or a chocolate-covered espresso bean.