And they are insanely easy and fast to make.
Credit: Getty / Ludwig Deguffroy

I have subscribed to a mid-afternoon tea break for as long as I can remember. That little pause around 3 or 3:30 resets my head, and tea has just enough caffeine to perk me up, but not so much it makes me wired. I take my tea with a splash of milk and a little bit of sugar, and preferably with some sort of small nibble that feels like a treat. And nothing feels more like a treat than a little snack cake.

I'm not talking about a packaged cellophane "snack cake," but rather an elegant tiny one to two bite treat. A morsel, not a meal. And at the moment, I am obsessed with financiers.

What is a financier?

A traditional French tea cake made with almonds and brown butter, financiers are little nutty bites that not too sweet, so they are perfect with tea or coffee, and are unadorned with frosting or glaze, making them less indulgent than so many other snacking cakes. Even better, they are insanely easy and fast to make. The batter lasts a week in the fridge, so I often make the batter, stash in a pastry bag, and then bake them off in my toaster oven to order, they don't take much longer than it takes for my kettle to boil! But you can obviously make them in larger batches and keep in an airtight container or stash a bag of them in the freezer and pull them out as needed on the daily.

How to make financiers the easy way

The best part about making financiers now is that companies like Black and Bolyard and Trader Joe's have started carrying browned butter, and there are a couple brown butter versions of ghee on the market, making this even faster to pull together. (For baking fanatics and purists, you can use the traditional financier pan, which makes little rectangular cake shapes instead of the round shape of a muffin pan.) Finally, a pro tip: You can add citrus zest, spices, or even a bit of cocoa powder to the batter if you want to change up the flavors.

Everyday Financiers

Makes about 2 dozen

2 tablespoons browned butter, liquid but cooled

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 ½ tablespoons ground nuts or nut meal (almond is traditional, but you can make with pistachio, hazelnut, or a combo) 

¼ teaspoon baking powder

Pinch fine sea salt

1 egg white

More nut flour or coarse sugar for garnish (optional)

1. Mix the flour, baking powder, and nut meal in a small bowl.

2. Whisk the sugar and salt with the egg whites until well combined. Fold in the dry ingredients. 

3. Gently fold in the browned butter until no greasy streaks are visible.

4. Transfer to a piping bag or ziptop bag and chill in the fridge for at least 90 minutes, but up to a week.

5. Heat your oven to 350° and lightly spray a mini muffin tin or mini madeleine tin with nonstick spray.

6. Put about 1 teaspoon of batter in each well, top with a sprinkle of nut flour or coarse sugar if you like and bake for 7-10 minutes until lightly golden around the edges.

7. Remove from the pan and serve hot or warm, or turn out on a rack and let cool, then store in an airtight container or freeze.