Gluten-Free Rhubarb Financiers

Years ago, I was fortunate enough to snag a dinner table at Annisa in New York City. Annisa was a 1-star Michelin restaurant(which sadly closed in 2017) helmed by the highly talented Anita Lo, who focuses on French cuisine with Asian influences. I remember seeing chef Lo dominating in Iron Chef, Battle Mushroom, back in high school, and ever since then , I wanted to go to her restaurant. However, reservations were super hard to come by and every single trip I took to New York, we were unable to go. Luckily, I was able to eventually get a table in 2015 and I was not disappointed. One of the standouts for me was the dessert, which was this rhubarb financier with almond brittle and rose water ice cream. These soft, fluffy brown butter-almond sponge cakes were embedded with roasted pieces of tart rhubarb, I could have happily eaten these on their own. And that was what inspired by this recipe. Well, that and I had exactly 1 stalk of rhubarb left in my fridge and I needed to find a way to use it up. So here we are, making rhubarb financier as a callback to the now-closed Annisa! May the food memory of that dinner forever live on!

For this recipe, it is literally just two components. Poached rhubarb and the financier that we are embedding the rhubarb into. For the rhubarb, we are poaching them with a little rosewater and white balsamic, just to bring out the tartness even more, and some perfume-y notes. For the financier, we are whipping our egg whites with the poaching syrup, like an Italian meringue essentially(this way, we don’t waste our syrup!), and folding into that our almond meal, chickpea flour, and brown butter to form a batter. The usage of the chickpea flour adds an almost savory tang that plays off of the tartness of the rhubarb really nicely. That and it makes these financier effectively gluten-free! I happened to also have leftover rhubarb confiture from another recipe, so I went ahead and stuffed these little financier with those, just because it adds an extract bit of rhubarb to the final product! This recipe is essentially zero-waste, as everything is being used up to create these little spongecakes! I would recommend eating them for breakfast or with a cup of tea, though serving them with some chantilly cream, Greek yogurt, or even goat’s cheese is not a bad idea either!

Makes 12 financier:
For the poached rhubarb:
2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
1 tsp rose water
1 stalk rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch by 1/8-inch batons

Bring a pot with the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and rose water to a simmer. Place in the rhubarb and allow that to simmer down for 4 minutes, with the lid on. Strain out the rhubarb and reserve the syrup for the financier.

Place the rhubarb on a lined sheet tray, spacing each baton out at least an inch apart from one another. Roast at 375 degrees F for 4 minutes. Allow the rhubarb to cool down before using in the financier batter.

For the financier batter:
Reserved poaching liquid
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups almond meal
a pinch of salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, browned, with more for baking
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
*Rhubarb confiture, frozen into little 1/4-inch half spheres*(can omit!)

In a pot, heat up the poaching liquid and reduce by about half – you want it to be a relatively thick syrup. In a bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks then whisk into those the poaching syrup and the vanilla until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, mix together the almond meal, salt, and brown butter first. Then sift on top the flour and baking powder. Fold together with the whipped egg whites to form a batter. Line muffin molds with more brown butter and fill each one about 2/3 the way full with batter. Place into each tin 2-3 pieces of the rhubarb. Bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. Allow the financier to cool down before unmolding and serving. Store in an airtight container.

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