Since moving to Australia I've been eyeing up all the desserts here which tend towards the small, individual, pretty kind. There are tiny tarts, coconut covered lamington squares and a variety of "slices" which are bar cookies to Americans. As much as I love a giant frosted cake - especially if people are standing around it singing happy birthday to me, I've become taken with a dessert that can be enjoyed in a few bites.
I discovered friands one day when I was grocery shopping. As I was passing by the section with various baking sheets, utensils and things I spotted an odd-looking muffin pan. It simply said "friand pan" and so I went home and googled it. It seems that friands are a thing here and in New Zealand and are closely related to the French financier.
Although I looked at 10 different recipes, they were all essentially the same. Egg whites, almond meal, confectioner's sugar, melted butter and a touch of flour are combined and baked in the special oval-cupped pan. At first I was going to make a batch with just raspberries but I spied a bag of bittersweet chocolate chips in the cupboard and decided it wouldn't hurt to add those in too.
I love everything about these cakes. They are buttery with a crisp exterior and tender, cakey interior. Serve them warm so that chocolate oozes and mixes with the raspberries. A final dusting of sugar is all they need.
For my friends outside of Australia, a regular muffin pan can be used to bake these.
For 8 friands:
- 7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter
- 4 large egg whites
- 2/3 cup almond meal*
- 1/4 cup plain flour
- 1 cup confectioner's (icing) sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup frozen raspberries
- 1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
- Extra confectioner's sugar for dusting
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk until foamy, about a minute. Change to the paddle attachment. Sift the flour, sugar and almond meal over the whites and beat on low speed until just combined, scraping down the bowl if necessary. Add the raspberries and chocolate chips and beat for 30 seconds more.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, divide the batter amongst the 8 cups. Place in the center of the oven and bake until the cakes are puffed and the edges are golden, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. After 15 minutes, remove from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature. Lightly dust with the confectioner's sugar right before serving.
*To make your own almond meal, place a cup of whole raw almonds in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they are very finely ground. Be careful because if they are ground too much they will become almond butter. Sift the almond meal, setting aside the large pieces that wouldn't sift and measure out 2/3 cup for this recipe. Reprocess any larger pieces and store the extra almond meal in the refrigerator or freezer.