Have you ever been betrayed by taste-bud trust? You know, following a recipe step-by- step only to wish you had just trusted your gut and added that extra clove of garlic, or pinch of salt? You think to yourself, “Mr. Celebrity Chef should know what’s going on, right?”, and so you throw your instincts to the wind. You level your teaspoons, measure your tablespoons, and hope for the best.
If you’re lucky, Mr. Celebrity Chef was on his game when he wrote the recipe (or his recipe-writer was on her game). If not, you’re left wanting more.
When I follow a recipe as-is, I often think, “Well, this is all fine and good, but it needs more ________.” Or, “This would be so much better with fresh _______.” As much as I love to tinker with recipes, it’s nice to find a recipe where the flavors lock into place without any drastic changes.
Twice recently, I have eaten at up-scale restaurants and been left hanging. One dish, a beautiful seared halibut filet surrounded by freshly shelled english peas and topped with a coriander foam was only missing one thing. The same culprit was missing from the king salmon with crème fraîche mashed potatoes and a corn and fennel salad…SALT! Both dishes were woefully under-seasoned.
My favorite part about cooking at home is that I get to make food just as I like it, every time. I’m never left with the decision of whether to ask the waiter to bring out a salt shaker (and risk insulting the chef).
Taste-bud trust is a rare bestowal, only given to my tried and true cookbook authors, food bloggers, and restaurant chefs. Madhur Jaffrey, the ambassador and mother of Indian cooking has earned a regular invitation to my table. Her raitas, chutneys and perfectly spiced vegetable dishes are frequent dinner guests.
On nights when I want a sure bet for a good meal, I entrust my taste buds to none other than the cooks at my favorite hole-in-the-wall Middle Eastern joint, Jerusalem Restaurant. Oh, what I would do to learn how they make their incredibly creamy hummus.
In the food blogging world, Deb of Smitten kitchen is my go-to girl. I know I’m stumped when I can’t think of a single ingredient I would add to her Summer Succotash. She is a shameless recipe changer, as am I. She searches out good recipes, jacks them up, and makes them better. I owe my addiction to these Gluten-Free Chocolate Financiers to Deb (who gushed over them after finding them on Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef’s blog).
These little two-bite treats come out of the oven hot and springy. When you break them open, you’re met with a moist center with an almond aroma. Not too rich or heavy, these financiers are perfect for times when you crave chocolate, but don’t want a molten-chocolate cake attack. I most recently made them for my mom’s birthday, so I fancied them up with powdered sugar and raspberries. They were perfect end to our our picnic and outdoor concert at Hudson Gardens last week.
On a completely different note, I have been meaning to share something with you for a while now. My fabulous friend Kim owns the fabulous Element One Photography Studio in Old Downtown Littleton, Colorado. Well, she came over to my house this Summer with equipment in tow for a little photo shoot. Okay, a big photo shoot actually.
She made my kitchen look amazing (ah, the magic of photography!)
I got lost in a sea of cookbooks!
We frolicked in the garden,
And played with our food.
I had a blast, despite feeling a little camera-shy at the beginning. Thank you Kim! I’ll re-pay you someday with a healthy dose of financiers.
I feel like I’m just introducing my online self…So, hello readers! It’s nice to meet you.
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup almond flour (or, grind blanched almond slivers to a powder in a coffee grinder or food processor)
- 4 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup egg whites (from approximately two large eggs)
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- ⅛ teaspoon vanilla extract
- butter or oil for greasing the mini-muffin tin
- granulated sugar to coat muffin cups
- fresh raspberries and additional powdered sugar for topping, if desired
- Preheat the oven to 400˚f. Lightly grease the muffin cups with butter or oil. Coat muffin cups with granulated sugar, and tap out the excess.
- Whisk the almond flour, cocoa powder, salt and powdered sugar together in a medium bowl. Add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and almond extract, stirring until smooth and combined. Add the melted butter and stir until incorporated.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until slightly puffed and springy to the touch. Allow to cool completely in the pan, before removing. (They can be easily removed from the pan by twisting the top of each financier before pulling from the mold).
- Once cooled, financiers can be stored in an air-tight container for up to one week.
- These financiers are perfectly delightful as-is, but if you're feeling fancy, they can be dusted with powdered sugar and topped with raspberries.