Here’s to a prosperous 2010!

The "Financier"

Where to begin? I’ve long wanted to write this but couldn’t find the right time or words.

I was let go from my computer job last August. I had no bitterness against the company who, as a media business, was one of those hit hardest by this recession. I was struck with mixed emotions of liberation, sadness, elation and fear. The weeks that followed the lay-off, I had not shed a tear nor expressed anger and everyone kept asking me if I was okay. I searched my feelings but it was blank. I felt like I was in a state of suspended animation. Logic would have me charging full force with growing my little pastry business but even my interest in that waxed and waned.

It took me almost a month to realize that it was fear.
I had no excuses anymore why I cannot bake this or that. I had all the time in the world, but something was holding me back.
It was fear. Fear of not realizing my business the way I envision it, fear of being too old to attempt a career change, fear…of…failure.
At first, we thought of canceling our Paris trip. After all, my fledgling business hardly made up for the lost income. We’ve booked it way back in June and it was a dream trip. Somehow "Hungry" Hubby and I knew that if we didn’t go, that might send me spiraling into depression (okay, maybe that was being dramatic but who knows?)  I needed this break to find out if I wanted to move forward with this business path or start typing up my resume to send out.

I’ll admit that there was a time when I started on my resumé when a friend said he may have a position open but then I would need to move out of Richmond. HH has a telecommuting job, so it was a non-issue. It was tempting.

But then that would be playing it safe again. A voice in my head told me “For once, Veronica, take a chance in your life to find out what you really want to do!” So I did not act on the offer.

Now it’s the end of December, but I have not done a thing to move towards my goal. I’ve learned a lot from my class at Pierre Hermé but that hardly makes me an entrepreneur. I realized that I have the attention span of a gnat and I need to organize a list of mini-goals to meet my big goal. I need to organize my days into what recipes need testing and what procedures need to be streamlined. (Sounds like I need a book for this, any recommendations?)

My journey into food began as a child in the restaurant/bakeshop that my parents started which is now under the charge of my brother and the creative direction of my sister-in-law. So I’ve decided to revisit that journey: I will go home to the Philippines to find out if this life of creating food is really for me. I will be gone for 5 weeks, I’ve never been away from HH this long! In between gathering recipes for the business and blog, I am embarking on another project: memoir-fact finding that could become reminiscent of “The Joy Luck Club” (yeh, I’m delusional). So much materials can be gleaned through oral history, but like any memoir I’ll have to weigh whether these experiences are worthy to be told with the chance that someone’s feelings may get hurt or just scrub it all together and bury the rich stories of my youth. I shall see. And yes I’ll be blogging from there. :)

Also today, December 31st, marks the day I’ve finally sorted through the boxes of my old life from my previous company. I felt a pang of melancholy. I did love being a DBA and it’s a life I think I can go back to in case this life in pastry did not pan out. So, I’ve carefully set aside my books on database administration and shredded all the paperwork that needed shredding. HH will take these to the basement for safe keeping just in case I find out that I do like being a geek.

And yes, that was liberating.

 I am okay, but still beset with mixed emotions and I know they will be with me for awhile, but right now I am SO full of HOPE for the New Year.

Stacks of "Gold Bars" ,great thought for the New Year, don’t ya think?

I’ve had this financier recipe tucked away for awhile not knowing what story to spin around it. I find that this popular tea sweet is so appropriate for the New Year as its traditional shape is similar to a bar of gold – a shining symbol of prosperity. The financier is on my to-do list of recipe tweaking as I am researching ways to make it taste as good 2-3 days after it is baked as they tend to be dense and dry when not reheated. Rose Levy Beranbaum’s recipe uses baking powder probably to make it less dense but this is still not the texture I am looking for but it is delicious nonetheless.

Hopefully, in 2010, my quest for the perfect Financier will be realized among other things.

So I wish all my dear friends and readers a Prosperous and Joyous New Year! May it bless us all with the beginning of good fortune and happiness for many years to come!

Gold Ingots (Financiers Classiques)

from: Rose Levy Beranbaum Rose’s Heavenly Cakes

sliced almonds   preferably 2/3 cup , 66 grams
unsalted butter (65 F to 75 F) 11 tablespoons ( 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons), divided, 156 grams
superfine sugar 3/4 cup, 150 grams
pastry flour (or Wondra flour) 1/2 cup, sifted into the cup and levelled off, 50 grams
baking powder 3/4 teaspoon
4 large egg whites, at room temperature 1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces), 120 grams
pure vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon

Special Equipment : Financier mold(s), preferably silicone, 3 by 1 by 1 1/4 inches high, coated with baking spray with flour. If silicone, set on a wire rack and then on a baking sheet. A pastry bag fitted with a 3/8 to 1/2 -inch round pastry tube (optional)
Preheat the oven Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
Toast the Almonds. Spread the almonds evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 7 minutes, or until pale golden. Stir once or twice to ensure even toasting and avoid over browning. Cool completely.
Clarify and brown part of the butter (buerre noisette). Have ready a fine-mesh strainer, or a strainer lined with cheesecloth, suspended over a heatproof glass measure. In a small heavy saucepan, heat 6 tablespoons/3ounces/85grams of the butter over low heat until melted. Continue cooking, stirring constantly and watching carefully to prevent burning, until the milk solids turn deep brown. Immediately pour the butter through the strainer into the heatproof measure. Measure 4 tablespoons/1.7 ounces/50 grams into another glass measure and set it in a warm spot, or reheat the buerre noisette when ready to add it to the batter. Store any remaining buerre noisette in the refrigerator for at least a year.
Melt the remaining butter In a small heavy saucepan, melt the remaining 5 tablespoons/2.5 ounces/71 grams of butter over low heat. Pour the melted butter into a heatproof glass measure and set it in a warm spot, or reheat it when ready to add it to the batter.
Grind the almonds. In a food processor, process the toasted almonds and sugar until very fine. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides a few times to ensure that all the almonds are processed to a fine powder.
Make the batter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the almond mixture, flour, and baking powder on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the egg whites and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds, or until well mixed. Add the vanilla and beat for a few seconds to incorporate evenly.
On medium-low speed, drizzle in the hot buerre noisette and then the hot melted butter. It should take about 5 minutes to complete and process, giving the mixture a chance to emulsify.
Fill the molds. The molds should be filled about half full (1 ounce/30 grams in each for the standard size mold). If you have enough molds, it is easiest if you scrape the mixture into a bowl or cup with a spout and pour the batter into the pastry bag if using, or freezer-weight resealable plastic bag with one corner cut and refrigerate it for a minimum of 1 hour or p to overnight. If refrigerated for more than 1 hour, it will still be soft enough to pipe, and it should sit for 30 minutes in the molds at room temperature before baking. (Alternatively, you can spoon the batter into the molds, but piping is easier and quicker.)

Preheat the oven. Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 375F/190C.
Bake the financiers Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown and the financiers spring back when pressed lightly in the centers.
Cool and unmold the financiers. Let the financiers cool completely in the silicone molds on a wire rack before unmolding. To unmold, push out each financier with your fingers pressed against the bottom of the mold. If using a metal mold, set it on a wire cooling rack and cool 5 minutes before unmolding. Run a a small metal spatula between the sides of the molds and the financiers, pressing firmly against the molds. Invert onto a wire rack and reinvert them onto another rack. Cool completely. The financiers keep, wrapped airtight in plastic wrap in an airtight container, for 3 days at room temperature, for 5 days, refrigerated, and for several months frozen.

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