Rose Water and Apricot Financiers

It is far too convenient to have a favorite recipe that uses 4 egg whites after you've just made ice cream calling for four yolks. Each time I make ice cream with the standard custard base recipe that I like, I happily save the whites knowing we'll be enjoying some financiers in the very near future.

In this case, I decided to use the rose water that had been sitting unopened for a couple of weeks patiently awaiting it's triumphant debut. Now I know not everyone loves the taste of flowers...the subject is not new to this blog. If you're one who doesn't do flowers in your food - then please move along. There's nothing to see here. However, if, like me, you have a palate for floral notes, then enjoy these little gems.

Financiers are really best the same day. This recipe makes twelve, and if you only want make half a dozen, you can save the batter in the fridge for the following day. It keeps really well. Just be sure not to stir it when you're ready to use it. Spoon it right in.

          1/2 cup unsalted butter (or 1/3 cup melted butter if you're not making the beurre noisette)
          2 tablespoons rosewater
          1/2 cup ground almonds
          1 cup powdered sugar
          1/4 cup flour
          4 egg whites
          a dash of salt
          a handful of dried apricots, very thinly sliced

To make the beurre noisette, melt the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Once it begins to boil, turn the heat down to low, and continue to cook. All the solids will separate from the liquid. Cook until the butter has reached a deep golden brown color. Remove from the heat, let cool a bit, and strain. Once strained, you should have about 1/3 cup of the liquid left. Let cool to room temperature (or at least lukewarm).

Preheat the oven to 375 and position a rack in the center. Lightly grease the inside of 12 small muffin tins.

In a medium bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, flour, salt and egg whites. Mix on low speed until the ingredients have combined. Then add the brown butter and beat on medium speed until the batter is smooth. Add the rose water and beat just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the muffin tins and bake for about 10-12 minutes. Take the financiers out of the oven, arrange the apricot slices on top, and put back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. The tops will be soft and sponge-like. Let cool on a wire rack before enjoying.

Makes 12 financiers.


Herbed Ricotta Spread

We had a small dinner party recently, and I thought this spread would be a beautiful appetizer for showcasing some of the fresh herbs that are really starting to take off in our garden. It was also a perfect match for the warmer weather we've been having - light and fresh, yet luscious. Because I was pressed for a time, I used a container of store-bought part skim ricotta, but making my own (click here) would have been even better. To keep it delicate, use part skim ricotta. For a slightly heavier spread, go with whole milk ricotta.

                    15 oz. ricotta cheese (1 container if using store-bought)
                    5 tsp. chopped fresh oregano (I used Greek)
                    5 tsp. snipped fresh chives
                    4 tsp. minced fresh parsley
                    1 small clove garlic, finely minced
                    sea salt to taste

                    sliced rustic country bread to serve

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Serve with fresh, warm bread.