While some people seem to struggle to get their head around Japanese sweets, I fell head over heels in love with mochi, matcha and black sesame anything and everything when Alessandro and I went to Japan 5 years ago. Unlike matcha or black sesame, kinako was never the star of any of the sweet confections we tried yet it was still present, dusted over glutinous rice flour dumplings or ice cream, adding a deliciously nutty flavour.
Kinako, better known as roasted soybean flour outside of Japan, means ‘yellow flour’ in Japanese and that is exactly what it looks like. It is made by pulverizing roasted and skinned yellow soya beans (although you can also buy kinako made from whole soya beans). Apparently you can also buy kinako made from green soya beans which has a greenish hue. Although you can make your own kinako, it is much easier to pick up a small bag at a Japanese supermarket (especially as most recipes don’t require huge amounts of kinako).
In terms of flavour, it is often described as beany (similar to chickpea flour) which I don’t think does the flavour real justice. I think it tastes nutty and earthy, similar to roasted peanuts, delicious if used in small quantities (but admittedly cloying when overdone). As it is gluten-free it cannot be substituted one for one for flour containing gluten in recipes relying on gluten for structure. However, replacing as little as 25-30% of the flour called for in a recipe with kinako is enough to get its flavour. I would simply treat kinako as a flavouring element in a recipe, similar to matcha or cocoa powder.
As for these financiers, they were born when I was packing up my boxes for my move to Brussels and there was an open bag of kinako I wanted to finish. I have made these financiers a few times now and simply love their flavour every time I make them. Kinako and sesame seem to have a natural affinity for each other, both deliciously nutty yet with a hint of sweetness. Adding a little bit of muscovado sugar adds some caramel notes and really rounds out the flavour of these financiers.
If you are wondering what else you can make with kinako, I am sharing my recipe for a black sesame loaf with a kinako glaze over on food&. Also, Chubby Hubby has a recipe for kinako latte which I have made a few times and which is delicious. I bet kinako latte would be amazing over ice and with boba for a twist on bubble tea now that temperatures have reached the mid-20s even here in Brussels. Lastly, I have heard that David Lebovitz has a recipe for kinako ice cream in one of his books and that is one ice cream flavours I would love to try. I am also thinking that kinako would be amazing in oat cookies.
Kinako, Sesame and Muscovado Financiers (GF)
Note: While the recipe calls for white sesame seeds, they can be made with black sesame seeds or a mix of both – if you only use black sesame seeds, the financiers will have a much darker colour once baked. Using brown rice flour will make these financiers gluten-free, but as suggested below you could also use spelt flour flour. I think financiers really taste best the day they are made but these will keep a couple of days in a container with a lid.
Makes 9 regular-sized financiers or 6 large ones
25g toasted white sesame seeds
70g brown rice flour (you could also use spelt or buckwheat flour)
3 egg whites
50g caster sugar
25g muscovado sugar
90g melted butter, cooled
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. If not using a silicone mould, grease your financier mould with butter.
2. Grind the sesame seeds with the brown rice flour, sugar and kinako until processed into a fairly fine powder (don’t worry if the sesame seeds are showing some reluctance to being ground finely – any larger bits will lend the financiers a bit of bite).
3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg white until frothy and white (if whisking by hand this will take 2-3 minutes). Add the dry ingredients, melted and cooled butter and stir everything together.
4. Fill each mould ca. 2/3 to the top, place in the oven and bake the financiers for ca. 15 mins. (20 mins. for large, muffin-sized, financiers) – the financiers are ready until puffed and slightly cracked in the centre and starting to colour around the edges.