‘Every time I’m forced to watch [my friends] eat egg whites, I feel bad for them. In the first place, egg-white omelettes are tasteless. In the second place, the people who eat them think they are doing something virtuous when they are instead merely misinformed’.
My attitude to egg white-only omelettes is pretty much in line with the Nora Ephron quote above. After a major custard or ice cream making spree, I’ve occasionally attempted to scale the mountain of leftover albumen by making an anaemic omelette, but I’m almost always disappointed by the odd consistency and insipid flavour which result.
Adding a little ricotta helps the texture, as does being bold with seasoning, but if you’re going to go to all that effort, I’m inclined to think you might as well include a less than harmless yolk. And if you do decide to eat an egg white omelette, you’re only going to use a couple up: it feels a little faddy and will likely be a meal for one rather than the kind of thing you serve to friends (unless you live in California, perhaps).
Which means an excess of egg whites is usually best resolved with something sweet. Meringue is the go-to solution – baked into crunchy, chewy peaks, whipped into icing or folded into delicate macarons – but here a little egg white goes a very long way and unless you’ve got a lot of people to cater for, an enormous quantity of any of the above can be a little over-facing.
Step in the financier. As well as being bite-sized buns of nutty, buttery bliss, financiers are an amazing way to use up leftover egg whites – a batch of twelve uses 120 grams, the equivalent of about four medium eggs. Up the quantities to make sixteen cakes and you’ve used up all the egg yolks from an average batch of ice cream.
Traditionally baked in rectangles (like a little bar of gold, hence the name), financiers can also be made in the kind of muffin tin you’re more likely to have lying around the house, making life a lot easier. Beurre noisette, or brown butter, is an integral ingredient and along with ground nuts contributes to the gorgeous flavour profile – the texture crispy on the outside and moist in the middle.
In this recipe I’ve added a little honey, used more pistachio than almonds and added in some matcha green tea powder with its unique flavour and a gorgeous green colour. Breaking open the golden brown crust to reveal a mossy green middle is something you don’t get often in baking, and although my Dad suggested it looked a lot like the interior of a falafel, he still managed seconds so I’m hoping the green is more appealing than off-putting.
Next time you’re left with more egg white than you need, forget the meringues and macarons and go straight for these financiers. Up the amount of almonds or experiment with other nuts, swap honey for maple syrup, omit the green tea powder or replace it with cocoa. Just please – whatever you do – don’t make an egg white omelette.
110g unsalted butter
1 tbsp good quality honey
120g free range egg whites (about 4 eggs)
110g golden caster sugar
10g green tea powder (I used this one)
85g pistachios, ground to a powder
30g ground almonds
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees C. Grease a twelve hole muffin tin or line with silicone or paper cases.
Heat the butter until the milk solids turn brown in colour, nutty aromas are released and the clear liquid is a golden amber. Strain into a bowl, discard the browned solids and whisk in the honey. Set aside to cool.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until slightly frothy (but nowhere near meringue stage). Sift in the sugar, flour and green tea powder and gently fold to combine. Add the ground pistachios and almonds and fold again. Pour in the melted butter mixture and stir to combine.
Divide the batter between your twelve muffin cases, tap on the worksurface to flatten the tops. Bake for 6 minutes before turning the oven down to 200 degrees C and bake for a further 6 – 8 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the financiers in for a further 5 minutes or so to firm up then remove and allow to cool in their tins a further 5 minutes.
Delicious eaten warm or cold, the heavy nut content means these little cakes stay lovely and moist for a couple of days.