It was like my personal heaven walking in JB Prince, the service and bakeware store on 31st Street between Madison and Park Avenues. It’s been on my list to stop by but I have been unable to until this week because they’re only open on weekdays from 9 to 5. Their Web site sucks so I didn’t expect much from the store, but it was immaculate when I walked in. I touched everything I could touch, especially the Fat Duck and the El Bulli books. The sous vide machines were all lined up in a row and baking sheets and pans of all sizes hanged by clips. Just seeing the individual serving pieces made of plastic and bamboo made me want to throw a huge amuse-bouche party.
It’s amazing what I get to do while unemployed. There are so many errands, I don’t know how they got done when I had a job. The past week alone, I ran all over the city finishing all sorts of businesses while also going to job interviews, seeing people I haven’t seen in a while and watching movies in the middle of the afternoon. If I didn’t have financial responsibilities, I swear I’d be enjoying this time more so than I did eight years ago when the Web first broke my heart. Heck, I’d be in Singapore with my brother and his wife, blowing through my savings and traveling all over Asia. Fuck, I hate being an adult!
But back to reality: I wanted to check another thing off my Things-To-Do list which is to start experimenting with baked goods. (You understand that I didn’t say “baking”, right? Because I’m a little bit of a pussy and I’m afraid of commitments.) I received a nice, hefty birthday gift certificate from a few friends and, though I already know it will go towards the Kitchen Aid Pro with sausage, pasta and ice cream maker attachments, I’m saving it until I’m ready to use it like a pro.
Financiers came to mind after scouring through my many cookbooks and realizing that it’s one of those basic French recipes that don’t require the use of an equipment. But because I’m also precise, I splurged on a $15 financier silicone mold–which explains the trip to JB Prince. I tried different flavors for my first batch of batter. I divided it into three small bowls and in one, I mixed in a tsp of ground coffee. In another, I added orange zest; I added finely chopped dried cranberries to the last batch. (Add your own flavor in Step 3 below.) After baking my first-ever financiers, I let them cool completely so as not to bother them in their molds until they were set. When I revisited them, they were basically popping themselves out of the molds and I didn’t have to turn them over. I have to say that my favorite were the ones with orange zest. This recipe makes twenty two-inch financiers in one mold tray.
a handful of raw almonds
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup of flour, sifted
2 egg whites
1/3 cup of butter
zest from a small orange
another small knob of butter to coat the molds, melted in the microwave for a few seconds
1. Preheat oven at 360º. Meanwhile, make your almond meal. In a food processor, process almonds until powdery. It’s okay that’s it’s grainy.
2. Make your beurre noisette. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low fire. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes, or until light brown and nutty-smelling. Set aside.
3. In a medium glass bowl, combine sugar and almond meal. Fold in the egg whites and mix well with a fork. Add the melted butter and continue to mix together. Stir in the flour and the orange zest and make sure everything is well-combined.
4. Butter your financier molds using a pastry brush. Pour the batter in each mold, filling it up just to the brim. Place batter-filled mold on a baking sheet. Bake for 18 minutes. Your financiers will puff up a bit and will get slightly crusty and golden on the edges, but soft on top. Remove from the oven and cool completely before turning them over on parchment paper.
Feel free to feel bad for jobless me and buy me the Big Fat Duck book
Or the Kitchen Aid Mixer Pro
JB Prince is on the 11th floor of 36 East 31st Street, between Madison and Park Avenues