We're having a little celebration, and I wanted to make things a little special and unique. What could be sweeter than a little French pastry? And for pure WOW factor, there is nothing finer than Chocolate & Coconut Friands!
Who would ever believe that these are easier to make than muffins, more wonderful than your favorite dark brownies, and richer than a slice of pound cake? Friends, you are going to LOVE friands!
Pull up a chair my friends, because cooking class has started!
First, a little history behind these sweet treats. I'm sure you're all familiar with "madelines" - which are simply little French butter cakes baked up in tiny shell-shaped metal pans. A version of these are "financiers", which are simple and elegant rich butter cakes made from browned butter, egg whites, almonds and powdered sugar, baked up in a rectangular shape (they get their name from looking like bars of gold). Friands use the same rich butter cake base, and traditionally have additional flavorings such as chocolate, coconut, fruit or nuts, and tend to be oval or round, baked in mini-muffin or mini-bundt tins.
I use my favorite little Nordic Ware mini-bundtlette pan, and it works like a charm. You can also use a mini-bundt pan or mini-muffin pan if you prefer. No muffin liners, just a generous greasing and flouring will do (I actually use cocoa powder in place of flour when baking chocolate cakes).
The ingredients are super simple. Butter, powdered sugar, flour, baking powder and egg whites start you off. You will also need some high-quality Dutch processed cocoa powder (I recommend Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa), almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill Superfine Almond Flour) - which is actually just ground up almonds - you won't believe what this does in terms of ramping up the flavor! And finally, some desiccated coconut (also from Bob's Red Mill), which is basically finely grated and dehydrated coconut - rather than the shredded and sweetened version that you typically bake with.
Even my coconut-hating Skipper LOVES these Friands - you get the flavor of the coconut without the texture, which is exactly what he typically doesn't like about coconut. Win-Win for Mama V! If you love coconut macaroons, you can easily use the Almond Flour and Desiccated Coconut in those recipes - and it really is life-changing in terms of taste and texture!
The rich batter comes together so quickly, and almost looks like a brownie batter. You can use melted butter to start, but I typically take the time to brown the butter to add another layer of flavor - almost like hazelnuts. Gently stir all of the remaining ingredients in with a wooden spoon, and you are ready to go. Pour evenly into your prepared pans and bake for about 20 minutes. I told you this was super easy!
And if you are entertaining, these can be baked up a day ahead of time and waiting in the wings for you to pull out. I've got another version that I'll be sharing with you as well, and when you put these out to serve, be prepared for some serious WOWs!
Served on a tray with fresh flowers or currents, or with some fresh raspberries tucked all around, and you'll be looking like a star!
For our party this weekend, I served with some sweetened whipped cream, fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. These were perfection!
I hope that you give these a try - and then you'll be able to add French Pastries to your repertoire. And you'll never have to tell a soul just how simple these are to make - it will be our little secret!