This Black Sesame and Chocolate Financier Cake looks utterly spectacular but it’s actually easy to make: if you can make muffins, you can achieve this cake! Plus, you can make the batter and even bake the cake in advance, which makes it the ultimate stress-free dessert.
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It’s no secret I love financiers.Financiers are tiny cakes made with brown butter and powdered almonds, and I love them so much because, despite their fancy name and elegant appearance, they’re super easy to make (if you can make muffins, you can make financiers!), and they’re extremely versatile: you can make them with any type of nut and garnish them with any fresh or roasted fruits, dried fruits or citrus zest, or even chocolate chips! What’s more, you can (and should!) make financier batter in advance and it will keep in the fridge for a few days, which makes it the ultimate stress-free dessert.
For as many financiers I’ve baked, I’d never thought of baking financier batter into a cake. That revelation came to me when I attended a three-day professional pastry class with renowned chef Patrice Demers. Chef Demers demonstrated how to make 10 of his best desserts, each of which featured several components. The goal of making these desserts was to perfect specific techniques and discover new presentation ideas.
I loved all the desserts I created with my incredibly inspiring fellow chefs (I learned so much in just three days!), but one cake especially stayed with me: Chef Demers’ Black Sesame and Chocolate Financier Cake. The idea of making a financier cake alone made it worth attending the class! I also picked up a few useful tips that make financier batter better suited for a cake. I’ll be sharing these with you in this post.
Although this Black Sesame and Chocolate Financier Cake sure looks spectacular, it’s super easy to make. It’s no more difficult to make than muffins are! In fact, the biggest challenge you could face with this chocolate financier cake might very well be finding a suitable pan! Chef Demers uses a savarin mold, which is a shallow, donut-shaped mold that makes a cake with a perfectly rounded top. This type of mold contains a lot less batter than a Bundt cake mold, and it’s a good thing because this chocolate financier cake looks and eats better in smaller slices.
If you don’t have a savarin mold, you might not be inclined to buy a new pan—I get that. Here are different pans you can use to make this Black Sesame and Chocolate Financier Cake:
Ring mold pan:Ring mold pans tend to be a bit deeper than a classic savarin pan, but they work well. The resulting cake will have a slightly different shape (likely wider and less tall), but it will still show that gorgeous ring shape.
Giant donut pans:These trendy pans are usually made of silicone, which makes them easy to work with.
Classic cake pan: Forgo the ring shape and go for a classic cake shape! You can bake this chocolate financier cake batter in an 8-inch (20-cm) round cake pan. I recommend not only greasing and flouring the pan as indicated in the recipe but also lining the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper to make sure you’ll easily be able to unmold the cake.
Muffin pans: You can, of course, make classic, mini black sesame chocolate financiers using this recipe! Simply line the cups of two 12-cup muffin pans with parchment paper cups, then fill each cup with about 2 tbsp (30 ml) of financier batter. Bake the financiers at 350°F (175°C) for about 15 minutes. Invert the cooled financiers on a rack (so the financiers sit on their wider end), then pour the chocolate ganache over the financiers. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with candied lemon zest, if desired.
In addition to all these options, you can also, of course, use a classic financier pan! Whichever pan you choose, you’ll create a memorable dessert.
Helpful Tips for Making Black Sesame and Chocolate Financier Cake
Use the right pan for the job: Refer to the above information and pan substitution ideas to pick the right pan for baking this financier cake. The instructions to make individually sized financiers are also included in the recipe below.
Make sure those black sesame seeds are toasted: It’s impossible to tell by sight whether black sesame seeds are toasted. They’re usually sold raw, so you should make sure to toast them and let them cool fully before you use them in this recipe. Toasted sesame seeds have a much deeper, more interesting flavor, which is what makes this financier cake so delicious!
Don’t be afraid of making brown butter: If you’ve never made it before, browning butter might sound like an intimidating task. Yet it’s really easy: simply make sure to use a stainless pan to melt the butter, as the light color will allow you to monitor the butter color easily. Stay close to the stove throughout (the process takes only a few minutes!) and use your nose: brown butter has an amazingly enticing, very distinctive nutty aroma, so when you start smelling it, it means your butter is almost done! Refer to the recipe below for detailed instructions.
Combine brown butter with canola oil to create a cake that remains moist and tender for days: This is a tip I picked up from Chef Demers. Combining brown butter with canola oil allows the financier cake to stay soft and moist for days. That, along with the chocolate ganache coating, makes this cake a perfect make-ahead treat. Simply Let the cake cool completely, coat it with the ganache and sprinkle with sesame seeds, let it set, and store the cake in an airtight container or under a cake dome at room temperature for up to 3 days. Garnish with candied lemon zest right before serving, if using.
Use the best dark chocolate you can afford: You should always use quality dark chocolate in desserts. Quality dark chocolate has a high cacao content, a low sugar content, has few additives or overall ingredients, and no added flavors or preservatives. Quality chocolate is also made with cocoa nibs roasted at a low temperature, which enhances the unique flavors of cacao beans, which have different profiles depending on where they were harvested (like grapes for wine!). Quality dark chocolate melts more easily, has a better flavor, and preserves a gorgeous shine when it is turned into a ganache. My favorite dark chocolates for baking are Valrhona’s Guanaja Dark Chocolate, Callebaut’s Dark Bittersweet Chips, and Cacao Barry’s Ocoa Discs.
This Black Sesame and Chocolate Financier Cake looks utterly spectacular but it's actually easy to make: if you can make muffins, you can make financiers! Plus, you can make the cake batter and even bake the cake in advance, which makes it the ultimate stress-free dessert.
Make the brown butter: Place a stainless steel saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced butter and stir to melt completely. Bring to a simmer and cool without stirring for 2 minutes. The butter will bubble up as water evaporates from it. Start stirring the butter again to watch it change color. If needed, lift the pan off the heat so the butter bubbles down, allowing you to see what color it is. Take the butter off the heat when the milk solids (the solids that deposits in the bottom of the pan) are golden and the butter gives off an enticing nutty aroma. Swirl the pan for a few seconds to make sure the butter is ready, then pour it butter into a mixing bowl or measuring cup and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Transfer the dry ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the powdered sugar and almond flour, then whisk to thoroughly combine. Add the egg whites and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the brown butter, canola oil, sesame oil, and black gel food coloring, if using, and whisk until fully incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the butter for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
To bake the black sesame and chocolate financier cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Generously butter a 9-in (23-cm) savarin or ring mold pan, lightly dust with flour, then tap out the excess. Spoon the financier batter around the mold (the batter will be a bit stiff because it was refrigerated.) Once you’ve spooned all the batter into the mold, use the back of the spoon to evenly distribute it around the mold and level out the top.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the financier cake is puffed up, light golden around the edges, and fully set (a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean.) Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely. Do not let the cake fully cool into the pan because it could get stuck to it for good (especially if you’re using an aluminum pan.)
For the chocolate ganache: In a double-boiler, add the chocolate and stir until fully melted. (You can also melt the chocolate in a measuring cup in the microwave by heating it at a low power level for 10 seconds at a time. Stir thoroughly before returning to the microwave and repeat until the chocolate is fully melted.) Add the butter and oil and whisk until the butter is melted and the oil is incorporated. If you melted the chocolate in a double-boiler, transfer the warm ganache into a measuring cup.
Place the rack with the cooled financier cake over a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (Lining the baking sheet with parchment paper will make it easy to recover and save the excess ganache for another use.) Slowly pour the ganache around the financier cake, making sure the cake is fully covered. Sprinkle the ganache with sesame seeds and flaky sea salt. Let the ganache set fully, then transfer the cake on a serving plate or the base of a cake dome. Cover and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.
SERVING: Distribute candied lemon zest around the top of the cake, if desired. Slice and serve.
How to toast sesame seeds: Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Spread the sesame seeds over a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice during the process. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container until needed.
How to bake individually-sized black sesame and chocolate financiers: Line the cups of two 12-cup muffin pans with parchment paper cups. Fill each cup with about 2 tbsp (30 ml) of financier batter. Bake the financiers at 350°F (175°C) for about 15 minutes, or until puffed up, lightly golden around the edges, and fully set (a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the financiers should come out clean.) Prepare the ganache as directed, then dip the tops of each financier into the warm, liquid ganache. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and flaky sea salt. Let the ganache set fully, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Right before serving, garnish with candied lemon zest, if desired.
Recipe Credit: Recipe from Chef Patrice Demers adapted for the home kitchen by Marie Asselin, FoodNouveau.com.
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