Photo by: Jonathan Lovekin

Coffee and pecan financiers

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100g pecans
150g unsalted butter, cut into 2cm dice, plus extra for greasing the muffin trays
200g icing sugar
100g ground almonds
100g plain flour
65g malt powder (or Horlicks)
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground coffee beans
8 egg whites (300g)
2 shots of espresso (60ml)
coarse sea salt

Pecan coffee cream:
100g pecans
3 shots of espresso (90ml)
530ml double cream
75g light brown sugar

NOPI regulars voice their unhappiness when these come off the menu for a due break, and are equally jolly to see them return. What makes the little sponges so popular, in our mind, is the fact that they are irresistibly fresh (they are baked to order), plus the pecan coffee cream, which is, if ever there was, culinary sorcery.

Everything can be prepared in advance here – the flavour in both the pecan coffee cream and the cake batter intensifies and improves overnight – but the cakes should be eaten fresh out of the oven.

What makes a financier a financier is the beurre noisette element: the nutty brown butter. They should, traditionally, be made in little rectangular moulds so that they look, as their name suggests, like little bars of gold. We’ve changed their shape here, presuming home cooks have muffin trays, but use financier or madeleine moulds, if you have them. 

Makes 20 cakes, to serve 10


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1 Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas mark 5. Spread the pecans for both the financiers and the cream out on a parchment-lined baking tray and place in the oven for 12–15 minutes, until they have taken on a bit of colour. Use the flat side of a large knife to lightly crush them. Set aside half of the pecans for the financiers and half for the cream.

2 To make the financiers, put the butter into a medium saucepan and place on a high heat. Once it starts to foam, cook for 3–4 minutes, until it turns golden-brown and smells nutty. Strain through a muslin- (or clean J-cloth-) lined sieve and set aside for about 15 minutes, to cool slightly.

3 Place the icing sugar in a large bowl with the ground almonds, flour, malt powder, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and ground coffee. Mix together and set aside. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk to form soft peaks: this should take about 3 minutes if you are whisking by hand and just 1 minute with an electric whisk. Fold the whites into the dry ingredients by hand, followed by the espresso. Next pour in half the browned butter, continuing to fold by hand as you pour in the remaining butter. Finally, fold in the pecans. Set aside in the fridge – with some cling film placed on the surface to prevent it forming a skin – for at least 2 hours or overnight.

4 Next make the pecan coffee cream. Place the espresso in a medium saucepan. Bring to the boil and then cook for about 11/2 minutes on a high heat, swirling the pan to reduce by half. Add the pecans, cream and brown sugar and return to the boil. Cook for 4 minutes, for the cream to thicken, then remove from the heat. Set aside to cool for at least 2 hours or overnight, in the fridge. If you leave it overnight, the cream will thicken in the fridge so you will need to return it to a low heat in the saucepan for 11/2 minutes, to loosen it up. Pass the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium bowl and set aside to cool. The nuts can be discarded at this stage (you can eat them if you like, but they don’t look attractive). Whisk the cream mixture for about 4 minutes with a hand-held electric whisk, until thickened to soft peaks with the consistency of a soft mousse. It is very easy to over- whip, so keep a close eye on it here. If you do over- whip it, just add a little bit of milk to bring it back. Set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.

5 Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas mark 7.

6 Grease the moulds of two small muffin trays with moulds 5cm in diameter, and line the bases with rounds of baking parchment. You will have enough mix to make 20 financiers, so, if you have 12 moulds in each tray, you can leave 4 ungreased. Spoon in the mix until three-quarters full and bake for 10 –12 minutes, until the cakes are golden-brown on top and only just cooked through: a knife inserted should come out with a tiny amount of mix on it. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for 5 minutes, before removing them from the tray. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the pecan coffee cream alongside.

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