Thanks to a nasty throat infection I spent most of last week in bed with a temperature close to 40 degrees Celsius. Prior to last week, I had not taken any real time off work for being sick since a hernia surgery back in 2012. While surgery is never pleasurable, I remember I quite enjoyed being off sick at the time. I had my surgery in Germany and stayed with my parents for the 2 weeks afterwards. Despite my initially somewhat limited mobility my recovery proved to be a wonderful opportunity to catch up with my parents over long conversations, something my quick weekend trips back home don’t leave enough room for.
In some twisted way, lately I had begun thinking that it might actually be quite nice to be off sick again some time, naively thinking it could be a nice opportunity to catch up on some sleep and trashy TV. Little did I know that I would spend most of last week confined to my bed, with a pounding headache from the high fever and too ill to read or watch any TV. Thankfully at least sleep came easily – I must have slept over 14 hours on average those days. And while I am not quite fit enough yet to go on my morning runs or go to yoga, I have been back at work for a few days now and my voice is slowly starting to sound normal again. That also means I thought it was about time I told you about these Argan oil financiers.
As I will have mentioned a few times by now, my parents spent a couple of years living in Morocco before I was born and I grew up eating Moroccan food quite regularly. Yet it was not until a visit to an Argan oil cooperative during a whirlwind your of Morocco a few years ago that I first came across Argan oil. Touring the cooperative I not only learned how Argan trees are grown, the sheer amount of fruit needed to produce 1l of the precious oil, but I also learned about the important role the Argan oil cooperatives have in supporting local communities in providing paid employment to many women in rural Morocco.
Intrigued by its nutty flavour, I picked up my first bottle of Argan oil on that same trip and have been using it to drizzle over soups and salads ever since. Recently, I started experimenting more with Argan oil, including trying to incorporate it into cakes and desserts. One of my favourite recipes so far is to make financiers with Argan oil. And yes, Argan oil is expensive, but so are pistachios and spices like saffron and vanilla. And I would much rather bake financiers with Argan oil than have a bottle of Argan oil go rancid while using it ever so sparingly.
Financiers with Almonds and Argan Oil
Note: Financiers are small French cakes made with no more than 4 ingredients at their most basic: egg whites, ground nuts, sugar and butter. While financiers can be very rich given the generous amount of butter their preparation requires, they lend themselves perfectly to variations – not only can you use different types of nuts and seeds in place of the more traditional ground almonds, but you can also replace the butter in part or in its entirety with different fats such as Argan oil, which will give your financiers a unique nutty flavour and delicate sweetness. And I might be biased here, since my dad often made coffee this way, but these financiers are wonderful alongside a small glass of cardamom-laced stove-top brewed coffee.
Yields 6 financiers using a financier mould (alternatively you can use a medium-sized muffin tray)
3 egg whites
75g light muscovado sugar or caster sugar
60g ground almonds
60g spelt or all purpose flour
60ml Argan oil
30g melted butter
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and lightly grease 6 financier moulds.
Add the egg whites to a large bowl and whisk until frothy with a balloon whisk or a handheld mixer. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk briefly to incorporate.
Distribute the financier batter evenly among the 6 moulds.
Bake the financiers for ca. 25 minutes or until they are well risen, golden brown around the edges and springy to the touch.
Leave the financiers to cool in their moulds for a couple of minutes before carefully removing the financiers from their mould.
While financiers are best eaten the day they are made, they will keep for a couple of days if stored in an airtight box at room temperature.