Fancy Baking for Un-fancy people (like me), Lemon Verbena, Hazelnut, Brown Butter Financiers

I can’t remember why I decided to bake these little french delights.  Part of the reason must have been a craving for something sweet. But I think the other part was wanting to use some of my home grown lemon verbana in a recipe. I often throw it into tea or even sangria, but I had yet to truly bring out all of its bright and citrusy notes.

Last year we moved to this glorious apartment by the sea. We (meaning myself, my boyfriend Udi, and 3 roommates), lucked out and moved into a place with a huge wrap around ‘garden’.  I say ‘garden’ because at the time it was a complete dump, weeds hip high, rotting furniture, a cat that died and decomposed months earlier. It was rank.

Before the transformation - after we had already cleared most of the the junk!

But we are not the type of people to get discouraged by a little filth. We quickly got to work, weeding, cleaning, tilling, building, planting. We managed to alter the landscape in a matter of months, turning this brown pile into something vibrant, full of life and incredibly beautiful. We didn’t just plant seeds and till soil, we built infrastructure with out bare hands. We gathered found materials from the street, planks of wood, bed frames, tiles (hundreds of tiles!) we constructed a wooden deck for lounging and eating meals on, we laid tiles and stones to create a path from one entrance to another, we ran electricity underground to light the various areas, we planted flower beds and vegetable beds, we grew things from seed, we planted trees – and all of this on the most meager of budgets. It was a miracle that I am still in awe of many months later.  We are reaping the benefits now, as our eggplants are dangling and our basil is bushy.  I will have to share more of this later when I have put the photos into sequential order – its simply beautiful.

I say these are fancy because they are french. And I decided long ago that anything french or french inspired is fancy. This is a vague generalization that makes me feel good – so let me have it. Its fun to bake such a simple treat and have it come out so lux. This, my people, is the ticket.

Lemon Verbena/Hazelnut/Brown Butter Financiers (Makes 8-10)

1 stick (115 grams) butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
2 tablespoons lemon verbena chopped
1/4 cup cake flower
4 egg whites
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 150 C. Butter muffin tin ( I often wait to do this step because I don’t want to butter cups that will not be filled with batter, the choice is yours.

In small sauce pan brown the butter until it reaches a nice nutty brown color, careful not to let it burn. Strain and place in a bowl.

Mix the sugar, cake flour, hazelnuts (or other nut if you prefer), lemon verbena, salt, and nutmeg. Add the egg whites and mix until just combined.

Pour in the browned butter and combine until smooth.

Pour into the muffin tins about halfway. This is when you can determine how many to butter. I buttered 6 ahead of time and then gaged how many more I would need based on the amount of batter left. I buttered the remained cups and that was that. 8 in total.

Bake for 15 -20 minutes until nicely golden browned on top. These are great with a sprinkling of powdered sugar a cup of coffee, black. Ignore that silly stick of butter and eat them with your eyes closed. You won’t believe how pillowy and light the texture is.

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