Some ingredients are closely—almost intricately—connected to the holidays, and my favorite has to be cranberries. Although I cook with cranberries all year, I feel like my holiday baking sessions wouldn’t be complete without an overuse of the small, tart, bright red fruit.
Among my favorite things to make with cranberries are muffins (of course!), fudge, blondies, cookies, and even marshmallows. I love how the zingy taste of cranberries balances out the sweetness in desserts, much like lemon does. If you don’t like over-the-top sweet desserts, the cranberry should be your friend.
This year, I decided to make fresh cranberries the star of hazelnut financiers, a delicate mini-cake. Hazelnut financiers sound and look elegant, and they’re as easy to whip up as muffins are. Simply combine dry ingredients, mix in egg whites, and then butter. Bake—and voilà! You will be rewarded with sweet bites that stand out from the usual holiday line-up, and taste impressive.
You can find specialty financier molds that make rectangular-shaped cakes, but I simply use a mini muffin pan. Not only does using mini muffin paper cups save drawer space (I’m not sure I can fit yet another baking pan in my kitchen!), but it also makes unmolding the financiers a breeze. My favorite paper cups to use are those made of parchment paper material: they may be less decorative than other options, but they’re the easiest to remove from the cakes. They practically peel themselves off! This means that every last one of those delightful crumbs will end up in your belly, rather than stuck to the paper wrapper.
Makes 36 mini muffin-sized financiers.
As elegant as these fresh cranberry and hazelnut financiers look, they’re as easy to whip up as muffins are. Discover a new treat your guests will swoon over.
15 minPrep Time
12 minCook Time
27 minTotal Time
Heat the butter in a small stainless steel pot over medium heat until completely melted and simmering. Keep on cooking over low heat, swirling the pot from time to time. If the butter bubbles up preventing you from watching closely over the color changing (that’s the water evaporating), lift the pot off the heat for a few seconds until the bubbles recede, then put back on the heat. The butter is ready when the milk solids at the bottom of the pot turn a light brown color and the concoction gives off a delicious hazelnut aroma. When it does, remove the butter from the heat, pour in a small bowl, and let cool completely. (Congrats, you just made brown butter!)
Put the ground hazelnuts into a large mixing bowl. Add the flour, sugars, and baking powder, and whisk together. Add the egg whites and whisk until they are fully incorporated and the mixture is thick and somewhat sticky. Whisk in the brown butter. At this point, the dough can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
When ready to bake the financiers, drop a tablespoonful of dough in each prepared muffin cup. Push a fresh cranberry in the center of each financier. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the financiers are golden brown on the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Financiers are at their very best when freshly baked, but you can also store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Financiers are traditionally made with brown butter, but if you want to skip a step and make these financiers even faster, you can forgo the browning process and simply use melted butter in the recipe. I promise the result will still be great!
Recipe Credit: Marie Asselin
It’s Tiny Sweets Week!
Check out the other holiday-inspired bite-sized recipes in this series: