Newly introduced to friands, I am now a real fan. Half way between a macaroon and a cake, these are gloriously crisp on the outside, soft and delectable on the inside. As soon as Laura of How to Cook Good Food announced this month’s ingredient for We Should Cocoa was to be almonds, friands were the first thing that popped into my head. And that idea has not gone away. Friands it is then.
Friands are very similar to financiers. Without being an expert on the subject and unable to find much information about these little cakes, it seems that friands are the antipodean version of the French financier. Financiers are traditionally baked in a rectangular shape and are made with brown butter or hazelnut butter (beurre noisette) as it is known in France. Friands are, apparently, baked in oval moulds. Mine are baked in round moulds because that’s all I have. Anyway, I thought I’d try baking some friands with the traditional financier brown butter to see what difference it made.
Co-incidentally, minutes before I was about to bake these, I read a post for brown butter chocolate chunk cookies over at The Little Loaf. As well as using buerre noisette in her cookies she had also used buckwheat flour to make them gluten free. Well what a brilliant idea. Friands don’t have much flour, relying mostly on ground almonds, so it seemed an opportunity not to be missed to make them gluten free.
It is always useful to have a few good gluten free recipes up ones sleeve. Coeliac disease is something we are becoming increasingly aware of. However, although CT has a friend who suffers from it, I had no idea it was quite as prevalent as it is, with 1 in 100 people being affected by it in the UK. It is an autoimmune condition affecting the lining of the small intestine and is triggered by the consumption of gluten. Gluten is found in a number of grains, but specifically wheat, rye and barley. Katie of Apple & Spice who was diagnosed with the disease about a year ago is running a coeliac awareness raising challenge to coincide with National Coeliac Awareness Week (14th-20th May).
This is what I did:
- Melted 90g unsalted butter over a low heat and left to bubble gently. Checking every now and again, left it until the solids had sunk to the bottom and turned a light brown. Immediately took off the heat as I didn’t want the butter to burn. Left to cool.
- Whisked 3 duck eggs whites until frothy (not stiff).
- Stirred in the cooled butter.
- Sifted in 120g icing sugar, 45g buckwheat flour and 60g ground almonds.
- Chopped 50g dark chocolate (85%) and stirred in as lightly as possible.
- Spooned into 12 silicone mini muffin cases and divided the remainder between 6 larger ones.
- Sprinkled the tops with slivered almonds.
- Baked at 180C for 15 minutes and removed the mini friands. Baked the larger ones for a further 3 minutes (18 in total).
- Placed on a rack to cool a bit, then turned out of the cases to cool completely.
- Dusted with icing sugar.
The aroma of the nut like butter as it turned brown was delicious and filled the house with its fragrance. The mini friands were destined to go to friends, but CT and I got to try the larger ones. These were as good as I remembered the cinnamon choc chip ones to be, if not better. the buckwheat flour worked really well, although we couldn’t detect anything specific. The brown butter gave an added depth to the almonds bringing out the nutty flavour as well as adding a slight richness to the whole. The mellow sweetness of the friand combined well with the dark bitter chocolate and made for an excellent and varied taste experience.