I’m just going to go ahead and say that I’m on a huge black sesame kick right now. My instagram friends over at Surely Someday Kitchen in Jakarta, Indonesia make these extraordinary pebble cookies from black sesame seeds, which look like beautiful grey-speckled river rocks. So I bought a giant jar of the roasty little guys and now I’m discovering every possible way I can incorporate them into sweets, which to be honest, is not a place that most Americans are used to tasting sesame. But I love its richness, nutty like peanut butter but deeper, earthier, and more complex, with a unique umami bitterness. Accented by a little bit of citrus or some other tartness, the flavor is divine. I made some sesame and orange shortbread earlier this week, we have a pint of black sesame and seaweed ice cream in our freezer, and today I made black sesame and rhubarb financiers.
I’ve never made financiers before, and I’ve hardly ever really eaten them before. There’s a coffee place in Dumbo that sells little chocolate fudgy ones that Ian and I used to get on slow, sunny mornings before work where we’d take our treats to the waterside between the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges and dangle our legs above the lapping rivertide. They’re simple little cakes, defined (as far as I know) by the use of egg whites as their only leavening agent, and by the beurre noisette (literally “hazelnut butter,” though not made from hazelnuts at all), which is basically the French term for “brown butter.” The butter is melted on a stovetop and cooked over low heat until the solids begin to brown and it gives off an aroma reminiscent of hazelnuts and turns a lovely warm amber color. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from little rectangular loaves to petit-fours, and can be made pretty convincingly in a regular ol’ muffin tin. They can be chocolate, almond, hazelnut, pistachio; so why not sesame?
The rhubarb was an impromptu addition. I’d seen someone make black sesame cakes with poached pear, which sounded heavenly, but I cut into the pear I had sitting on my counter and it was mealy and brown inside, very gross, not going anywhere near my precious sesame pastries. But lo and behold, eyeing me from behind the fruit bowl was that leftover stalk of rhubarb from that time last week when I overbooked myself for brunch gigs and had to make Ian make me rhubarb simple syrup for the next day’s cocktails. He’s a real gem. So I thought, I can poach rhubarb, right? Turns out you can.
This recipe was actually extraordinarily easy, and you should all give it a try! With our without the rhubarb, or with an addition of your own.
Black Sesame & Rhubarb Financiers
makes 10-12 in a standard muffin tin
– 1/3 C beurre noisette (start with 1/2 C unsalted butter)
– 1/4 C all purpose flour
– 1/2 C roasted black sesame seeds + extra for topping
– 3/4 C powdered sugar
– 1/8 tsp salt
– 3 large egg whites (save the yolks for something else later!)
– 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– zest from 1 lemon
– 1 stalk rhubarb
– 2 C water
– 1/3 C sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Bring the water and sugar to a low boil and add the rhubarb, cut on the bias into thin strips. Cook 5-6 minutes until tender but not falling apart. Strain off the liquid and set rhubarb aside to cool.
2. In a food processor, pulse the sesame seeds and flour until finely ground. Add the powdered sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Allow it to foam and then lower the heat for the foam to subside. Cook over low heat 4-5 minutes until the butter is amber and aromatic. Keep an eye on it and don’t let it burn! Pour 1/3 C into a measuring cup, allowing the sunken solids to remain in the pan with any leftover butter. Brush the insides of a standard muffin tin with the remaining butter.
4. Lightly beat your egg whites until broken and slightly frothy, and add the vanilla extract. Add the beurre noisette and egg white mixture to your dry mixture and toss with a spatula to combine.
5. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, spoon batter into individual muffin tins, adding only about 1/3-1/2″ of batter in each one. The financiers will be shallow, but this allows for their fluffy texture and quick cook time.
6. Sprinkle reserved sesame seeds over the top (a mix of white and black would be beautiful if you have both!) and then lightly press your rhubarb into each one.
7. Bake at 400°F for 10-15 minutes or until a fork inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack. If all goes well, they should pop right out!
I hope you guys like this recipe as much as I did … Now that I know how simple they are to make I might be making financiers all the time! And you guys know how much I love any excuse to eat cake for breakfast …
Until next time,