Monday, January 17, 2011

Taking Stock - Pignoli Financier Tart

Pignoli Financier Tart

It's January 17, well beyond my unofficial deadline for extending everyone belated New Year greetings before it becomes as asynchronous and silly a thing to do as wishing you a Happy Easter. Most of you have moved on to your resolutions, and have been already bargaining with them, at that. January 1 is quite a celebration of the past, a palpitating anticipation that explodes in your face with the firecrackers and confetti, and dies the instant all those lurid pink and red Valentine displays hitch up in the marketplace. ( I think the only time a retailer will pay for overnight staffing is to position the next holiday's gewgaws while we are sleeping off the last one's excesses.) There is no excited savoring of a holiday anymore; so my act of rebellion has been to drag my heels and wallow a little more in the past.

Not that 2010 was a particularly good year. While there were some highlights (a photo gig for National Geographic Traveler; an excellent first crack at baking the inscrutably temperamental French macaron; and the serendipitous blossoming of a new friendship), 2010 and I did not like each other.

There are no official resolutions for me this year. I have mostly honored my 2010 to-do list, although it took just about a year to finesse it. Holiday and business commitments have left me with little energy to return to the kitchen, but I suspect the impasse has more to do with the practical than the psychological. I cannot see the counter tops for the cans. Everything's a jumble, and without the ability to assess, never mind access, my overstocked larder, how am I supposed to cook and bake in any organized and pleasurable way?

So I've taken a pledge (rather than a resolution) to purge my less-than-sacred culinary space one package, sack, and box at a time. With the exception of perishables that need routine replacement, I am putting a moratorium on purchasing anything that can sit in my cupboard for a year. From now on, I'm just reaching in and grabbing the first thing that my fingers touch and will work with that, so help me. I'm clutching an unopened cellophane of ground almond meal at the moment. Yep, I can work with this and whittle down my flour, sugar, and butter reserves, to boot. Now all I have to do is empty the oven of ten tons of pots, pans, and pastry tins.

Pignoli Financier Tart 3

Pignoli Financier Tart - Adapted from Patricia Wells' recipe

Serves 6-8

[Because there is no separate crust, this is not technically a tart, but the ingredients and initial baking temperature create a chewy, dense, and rich casing for the buttery cake center. No one will complain, and you will have saved yourself a great deal of bother in preparing pastry.]


1 2/3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup ground almonds (also known as almond flour or meal; do not use marzipan or almond paste)
1/2 cup cake flour
6 large unbeaten egg whites
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, melted and cooled in a small saucepan
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup pignoli nuts

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Sift powdered sugar, almonds, and cake flour into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour in egg whites, beating with the whisk or a large spoon until they are well mixed. The batter will be wetter than you'd expect, moderately thick and slightly elastic. Pour in melted butter and stir until smoothly blended without any butter separating from batter. Stir in almond extract.

Well grease an 8-inch tart tin with removable bottom. Place tart tin on baking sheet for support. Pour batter into tin. Cover batter with pignoli nuts. Position baking sheet on center oven rack. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees F and continue baking another 9 minutes. Turn off heat to let set in cooling oven for a final 10 minutes. Test very center with the blade of a dull knife. If wet, return to oven another 3-5 minutes. The center will be the last to match the light, firm crumb surrounding it. Even if the knife comes out clean, you may sense a certain heaviness around the blade when you first insert it. If so, make sure to give it that few extra minutes. Let cool ten minutes in tin before carefully lifting tart to a serving plate without trying to separate it from the removable bottom.

Ready for Oven

Oven Ready.

Pignoli Fianancier Tart 2

This recipe is for Champa of Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen, hosting her weekly Bake-Off event which she publishes every Thursday.

Been There, Done That ~
Hazelnut Financiers
Almond Cherry Mini Tarts
Orange and Coriander Madeleines

Other People's Eats ~
Lychee Honey Financiers from Dessert First
Pignoli Almond Cookies from 6 Bittersweets
Peanut Butter Financiers from Technicolor Kitchen


  1. What a beautiful looking tart. I bet this would be great with other nuts too. Thanks for the lovely entry Susan.

  2. wow wht a delicious tart susan...eye catchy pics...great way to welcome the new year...happy new year wishes to u...

  3. Happy New Year to you! I just visited yesterday and wondered how you were doing. Love the new idea of how to cook off your kitchen, can't wait to see the results! Love this "tart" as well!

  4. 2010 did not like me either. Here is wishing us both a better 2011. I am thankful for our connection though. Such a blessing.

    Beautiful tart my dear friend and lovely photos, as always.

  5. Love the golden color of the tart. And I love pinoli: as a kid, I would spend hour gathering them and then cracking their tiny shells. It was a bit of a messy job, but totally worth it. Good luck on your New Year's resolution. And Happy New Year, of course.

  6. Wowww such a gorogeous and irresistible tart...soooo tempting!

  7. That tart looks heavenly and so beautiful! Pignoli are great in baked goods.



  8. Call me crazy, but a gig for National Geographic sounds pretty good to me. ;) I love the idea of cooking through the kitchen! My husband will be eternally grateful to you if I take up the challenge (we have the same cans, pots and pans in the oven, etc. and we *don't* live in a NYC apt). The tart is stunning--and, I bet, every bit as delicious as it looks.

  9. Happy New Year Susan! Hopefully this year will be a good one :)

    The tart is wonderful and calling my names! Pretty as well. And from Patricia Well? - I'm making this.

  10. Wow, seriously great photos. And the tart sounds delicious.

  11. That looks simply PERFECT! Love pinenuts!

  12. I think purging your cupbiards is an admirable goal Susan!!!!

  13. 2010 was an "eh" year for me - not that great, but not that bad either. I have no regrets seeing it in the rear view mirror.

    But that tart? Now that's a different story. I can almost taste it. But almost isn't quite good enough, and I happen to have most of the ingredients.... just the almond meal is missing. Lovely...just lovely!

  14. that's a gorgeous looking tart! my goal is too, to decutter my kitchen :p

  15. Ooh I love the idea of a lovely tart like this without the fuss of making a separate crust. Beautiful, Susan! I definitely need to declutter my pantry and kitchen tools as well. By the way, thanks for linking my post :).

  16. Dear Susan, here's wishing you a truly wonderful 2011. Can't think of a better beginning than with this gorgeous tart.

  17. Wow, your tart is beautiful!

  18. Perfection in a tart! The pignoli nuts are a perfect addition to this dessert. A delight for any cup of tea.

  19. What a beautiful tart! And what a courageous pledge:) I am afraid that the excess of "things" in my pantry haunts me, too. I will certainly cheer you on, and I might even join you one of these days:)
    I have a feeling that 2011 is going to be an incredible year!

  20. Your tart looks so delicous. I like almonds and pignoli nuts. I think this is going to be a lovely combination. Thank you for sharing.

  21. Thanks, Champa. Happy to join in your Bake-Off.

    Hi, Sana. Thanks!

    Kirsten – Thanks. There are going to be a lot of bean recipes coming up. ; )

    Lisa - : ) 2010, let it be history.

    Thanks, Simona. Pignoli and almond are a match made in you-know-where. I've never had fresh pignoli – heavenly, too, I'm sure.

    Priya – Thank you!

    Hi, Rosa. Thanks always.

    Ana – Thanks. Good to see you!

    Ricki – Thanks. Although I've had a much smaller kitchen in the past, this one is definitely bursting at the hinges of the cabinets.

    Hi, Anh! Thank you. Patricia Wells' recipes are always great; they have never, ever disappointed me.

    Thanks, Susie Bee! Nice to see you. : }

    Welcome, Now Serving! Thanks so much.

    Thanks, Val. It's a work in progress. ; D

    Hi, Toni. Thank you! I hope 2011 is everything you are looking forward to.

    Thanks, Wiffy. So, I am not alone!

    Xiaolu – Thanks so much. Good luck with your decluttering. I am determined, but I have to really be disciplined; otherwise, my head gets turned really easily by something new I see at the market.

    Thank you, Vaishali. Best wishes always. : }

    Hi, Lynne! Welcome! Good to see you.

    Thanks, Anonymous. I had this with hot cocoa, but now I wish for a cup of tea and a slice to go with it. ; ]

    Lana – Thanks. I have the same feeling about 2011.

    Welcome, Eftychia! Thanks so much for your kind words.