When my daughter showed me a photograph of The Bojon Gourmet’s gorgeous Black Sesame Kumquat Financiers, I knew I needed to make them as soon as I could get my hands on some kumquats. Kumquats are the darlings of the citrus family, are the size of oblong marbles and are fun to eat because you feel like you are breaking all the rules. Since the rind is sweet and the pulp sour, you eat the whole fruit in one bite: a benefit for people like me who don’t like getting citrus oil on their hands in the peeling process. Don’t laugh. I know I’m not the only one.
I packed a supply of kumquats safely in a cooler to take to our cabin in a small coastal town, where, to my dismay, no one had ever heard of black sesame seeds. Not to be discouraged, I tried substituting poppy seeds for the sesame seeds (same color, at least). Then, since I was changing things up anyway, and since I am not gluten intolerant (The Bojon Gourmet version is gluten free), I decided to do a sort of mash-up of my favorite financier recipe from The Bouchon Bakery Cookbook and The Bojon Gourmet’s recipe.
Traditionally baked in small rectangular molds, financiers resemble ingots, their yellow color produced by generous amounts of ” liquid gold,” otherwise known as browned butter, which also works to make the cakes wonderfully rich, perfect accompaniments to a cup of tea or coffee. In France they are sometimes baked with raspberries on top, so it is not such a stretch to imagine using another fruit. Kumquats are just the right size to slice into pinwheels, and they are especially striking atop the black background of this poppy seed take on the original.
The trickiest part of making these beauties is browning the butter without burning it. The key is to melt the butter over a medium low heat, to stir the butter once it is melted to prevent the browned bits from sticking to the bottom, and to remove from the heat immediately when the intoxicating aroma of nutty, buttery goodness wafts up and tells you it is done. For this recipe you add the browned butter to the other ingredients when the butter is hot; so I recommend browning the butter once you have mixed all of the other ingredients together. If you you’d rather brown the butter first, transfer the butter to a bowl while you assemble the rest of the ingredients and then carefully reheat the butter just before adding it. For an excellent tutorial on browning butter, see Nila Jones’ instructions HERE
Kumquats have fairly large seeds which need to be picked out as you go along; tedious only if you let it be. I find sitting on a stool at a counter, taking your time slicing, maybe listening to some music, and enjoying the aroma therapy of the citrus oil spray makes the time spent thoroughly enjoyable.
Keep stirring the browning butter to make sure the browned bits don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. When there are caramel colored specks of browned butter at the bottom of the pan, and when you smell the butter suddenly turn nutty, take the pan off of the heat.