Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with some random thought that keeps me from falling asleep again until I have made a note of that thought. Useful when these are important things like finally thinking of a present for a particularly hard to please birthday girl or boy, emailing a client about something I had not thought of before but now seems really important, but quite often it’s pretty random things like reminding myself to do another load of laundry in time for everything to dry for an impending trip. The other night I had one of those rather trivial thoughts that kept me up a while – figuring out what flavour financiers to make with the egg whites left over from the Olive Oil Gelato I made.
I woke up to a draft email on my blackberry that simply read “Buckwheat Olive Oil Cacao Nib” and rather than force myself through a morning workout when I was sore and stiff from overdoing it in the gym the day before I quickly set to work in the kitchen. I adapted the original recipe I had come across quite a bit, using buckwheat flour instead of plain wheat flour, reducing the amount of sugar by about a fifth and using muscovado sugar instead of white caster sugar because I think it works really well with heartier and nuttier flours like buckwheat, subbing half the butter for olive oil (I did not use olive oil alone as I did not want the taste to be overpowering given the short ingredient list) and last but not least, I added a little handful of cacao nibs.
Cacao nibs are basically the fragments of crushed cacao beans (once they have been dried and fermented), used in the production of cacao paste (also called chocolate liquor), a key ingredient in the chocolate bars most of us wolf down to get past that mid-afternoon slump at work. Cacao nibs are crunchy, similar to toasted nuts, and have an intense chocolatey taste not unlike very dark chocolate, which is why I like to call them chocolate chips for grown-ups. I love adding them to quick breads like this Orange Chocolate loaf, cookies (or even on top of ice cream) – they are wonderfully crunchy when raw yet become softer and with an even more intense chocolate taste once baked. Buckwheat goes really well with cacao nibs and here the nibs give a little bit of bite to these otherwise very soft and spongey little cakes. If you don’t have any cacao nibs, feel free to use chocolate chips or chopped nuts (I think walnuts would go particularly well with these).
Buckwheat Olive Oil and Cacao Nib Financiers
4 egg whites
100g muscovado sugar
Pinch of salt
125g buckwheat flour
60g butter, melted
60g olive oil
40g cacao nibs
1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
2. Whisk the egg whites together with the sugar and pinch of salt until thick and glossy (with a handheld mixer this will take about 3-4 minutes).
3. Pour the melted butter and olive oil over the eggs. Combine the buckwheat flour with the cacao nibs and add to the eggs as well.
4. Carefully fold the flour, cacao nib, butter and olive oil into the egg whites, being careful not to deflate the mixture.
5. Carefully spoon the mixture into a financier mould (I used a silicone one so there was no need to grease and flour it, but if you are not using a silicone mould, grease the mould carefully with some butter and lightly dust with flour), filling about 2/3 of each mould and smooth the tops with a spatula.
6. Place in the oven for ca. 20 minutes until the financiers are light golden in colour and a toothpick inserted into the middle of the financiers comes out clean. Let cool in the moulds for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack.
While these are best eaten on the day they are made, they will keep for a 3-4 days if wrapped well or kept in a plastic container somewhere cool.