Just in time for holiday gatherings and good any time for parties and special occasions, here are two easy-to-make recipes that yield enough delicious cookies to delight a hungry crowd. Used in tandem, the pound cake and financier cookie recipes also solve the classic baker’s dilemma: When recipes call only for egg yolks, what to do with the whites? And vice versa.
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When they were young, our sons loved pound cake. The recipe I developed called for egg yolks, which meant the whites went to waste. That always bothered me. Recently, I needed to make a large number of cookies for a party. I decided adapting the pound cake recipe would make a unique cookie.
But that left me with my old problem. What to do with the egg whites? No one in our house eats egg white omelets so I looked through a notebook where I keep recipe ideas. In my notes about a Parisian bakery (I neglected to write down the name) was a description of a scrumptious financier. Like a cartoon character, the light blub turned on over my head. Financiers are made with egg whites. The pound cake needs yolks. Voilà! A marriage made in the oven.
Making the cookies in silicone molds adds to the ease of preparation. No need to brush on melted butter and dust with flour because the molds are nonstick. They require a minimum amount of washing before being used again to make another round of delicious cookies.
Silicone molds are available online and in specialty cook stores such as Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma as well as in the cookware sections of major department stores.
Best served at room temperature, the cookies will stay fresh for a week if refrigerated in airtight containers.
Lemon Zest Pound Cake Cookies
Pound cakes get their name because the classic recipe calls for a pound each of butter, flour, eggs and sugar. Adapting the recipe for use in a small mold transforms the cake into a light-as-air crisp cookie, with many of the qualities of an Italian dipping biscotti. The lemon zest contrasts nicely with the buttery richness of the cookies.
If you want to use larger molds, the yield will be lower and the cookies will need to be baked longer. Because ovens vary, I would suggest starting with a test batch of three or four cookies to determine the baking time.
The dough has a thickened consistency not unlike Play-Doh. Use your fingers to spread the dough into the corners of the individual molds.
Yield: 126 cookies made in molds 1-inch by 1 3/4 inch
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 20-25 minutes
1 1/2 cups sweet butter
6 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
4 cups all-purpose white flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. In a saucepan melt butter over a low flame. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar to a custardy consistency.
4. Add lemon zest to the egg mixture.
5. Slowly whisk in the melted, room temperature sweet butter.
6. Add baking powder and mix well.
7. Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour into the bowl. Whisk to mix well. Continue adding 1/4 cup at a time and blending until all the flour is incorporated into the egg-butter-sugar dough.
8. Into each 1-inch by 1 3/4-inch mold, place 1 1/2 teaspoons of dough. Using your fingers press down to shape the dough into each mold.
9. Put the molds onto a cookie sheet and place in the preheated oven.
10. Rotate the molds every 10 minutes for even browning.
11. The cookies will bake in 20 to 25 minutes. But because ovens vary, begin checking after 10 minutes. If the tops are lightly browned, they are probably done.
12. Remove the molds from the oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove each cookie and place on the wire rack.
13. When cooled to room temperature place the cookies in an airtight container and refrigerate for later use.
14. Just before serving, dust the tops with powdered sugar. Serve by themselves with coffee or tea, or with fresh berries, whipped cream or ice cream.
- Add 1/4 cup finely ground roasted almonds into the batter.
- Add 1/4 cup finely ground chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips into the batter.
- Blend together 1/4 cup finely ground roasted almonds with 1 teaspoon white sugar. Halfway through baking, dust the tops of the cookies with the almond-sugar mixture.
Orange Glazed Hazelnut Financiers
Financiers are often prepared with ground almonds. Any nut can be used. I prefer roasted hazelnuts.
Using larger sized molds will result in fewer cookies that need to be baked longer.
Unlike the thick pound cake dough, the financiers batter is thin and is best placed into the individual molds using a spouted container like a measuring cup. Because ovens are different, I would suggest making a test batch of three or four cookies to determine the baking time.
Yield: 90 cookies made in molds 1-inch by 1 3/4-inch
Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
3/4 cup sweet butter
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons whole raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
1 3/4 cups confectioners or powdered sugar
Pinch sea salt
Pinch black pepper
6 egg whites
1/4 cup orange simple syrup (see recipe below)
1. Heat oven to 450 F.
2. Melt butter and set aside to cool.
3. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast in the oven 2-3 minutes. Remove. Wrap the hot hazelnuts in a damp, cloth kitchen towel. Rub the towel against the hazelnuts to remove the skins. Measure out 2 tablespoons of the roasted hazelnuts. Cut each hazelnut into quarters and reserve.
4. Using a food processor, grind the remaining 1 cup of roasted hazelnuts into a fine meal. Keep an eye on the grind so the hazelnuts don’t over process and become a nut butter.
5. In a large bowl, use a whisk to blend together the hazelnuts, flour, sugar, sea salt and black pepper.
6. Add the egg whites and mix well.
7. Whisk in the cooled, melted butter.
8. Transfer the batter to a spouted measuring cup and fill each mold with batter.
9. In the middle of each financier place a quarter piece of roasted hazelnut on top, cut side up.
10. Clean off any batter that may have spilled onto the outside of the mold.
11. Drizzle 2 to 3 drops of orange simple syrup on top of each financier.
12. Put the mold onto a cookie sheet and place in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Rotate the cookie sheet for even browning. Reduce the temperature to 400 F and continue baking another 5 minutes.
13. Turn off the oven.
14. Rotate the cookie sheet and leave the financiers in the oven 10 minutes or until they are lightly browned on top and firm to the touch. Making a test batch to determine how long they should remain in the oven at this juncture is helpful. Leaving the financiers in the cooling oven longer will create a crisper cookie.
15. Remove from the oven and place the mold on a wire rack. Do not remove the financiers from their molds until the mold has cooled to the touch. Then carefully remove each cookie and allow them to continue cooling on the wire rack.
The financiers can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.
Serve at room temperature with coffee or tea, with fresh berries, whipped cream or ice cream.
Orange Simple Syrup
Before making the syrup, the peel is boiled three times to remove the orange’s astringent oils.
Yield: ¼ cup
Time: 30 minutes
1/2 cup orange peel with rind, finely chopped
6 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup white sugar
1. Place the chopped orange peel and two cups of water into a saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the stove top and strain the orange peel pieces in a fine metal strainer. Repeat the process two additional times.
3. Place the orange peel, sugar and 1/4 cup water into the saucepan. Do not stir the mixture. On a low flame, bring the mixture to a low simmer.
4. After the water dissolves the sugar, continue simmering the syrup 10 minutes. To test for doneness, dip a small spoon into the liquid. If the back of the spoon comes out coated, the syrup is done.
5. Use a fine metal strainer to separate the syrup from the candied orange peel. The orange peel can be saved for later use in a refrigerated airtight container.
6. Transfer the syrup into a spouted bottle or use a small espresso-sized spoon to drizzle the orange flavoring onto the financiers.
Main photo: Lemon Zest Pound Cake Cookies. Credit:David Latt