I love receiving parcels in the mail. It makes me happy to unwrap brown boxes big or small, tearing away the brown paper packaging to unwrap the surprise inside. Of course, not all parcels are created the same – some are my (guilty) online purchases but nonetheless, they are fun to unwrap and to physically hold.
Sometimes, I would even rip open my sister’s parcels (with her permission, of course) because I like the feeling of unwrapping new things.
Recently, I unwrapped a loosely wrapped brown packaging tied up with strings to these two wooden plates. I love them right from that instant.
The other moment was when I opened one in a medium sized pure white box that unveiled a cherry red beauty. That box contained my early birthday present from J and let’s just say that it made me very happy.
When I want to make someone’s day, I usually do it in the form of food gifts. I made these cherry pecan friands and packed them neatly in a box for my sister and secretly stashed it into her lunch bag.
It probably is not quite the same as opening a brown box to a set of earrings or a new blouse, but I know that it made her day when she found these friands at work the next day.
These friands are one of my favourite things to bake especially on lazy and rainy days. They don’t take too much time and effort at all and everyone can make these without any specialty equipment (see my tip on pitting cherries with a pastry piping nozzle).
I used fresh cherries that are still in season, dried sour cherries and pecan nuts from Michigan that was bought for me. Instead of using my usual ground almonds in these friands, I used hazelnut meal this time. You can easily interchange the nut flour used for friands to complement that fruit/topping that you are adding to them.
These cherry and pecan friands are really delicious to munch on, warm or not. Would you be happily surprised to open a box containing these friands?
Recipe: Cherry and pecan friands (financiers)
Makes 12 rectangular ones (the ones I make are rather big)
Friands/financiers are mini French cakes. The original flavour of friands is nutty from the buerre noisette. I used fresh cherries, dried sour cherries and pecans for these but feel free to substitute other stone fruits, dried fruits or nuts. Otherwise, they make really lovely afternoon tea cakes even when they are plain.
230g egg whites, room temperature
260g caster sugar
110g all-purpose flour
170g ground hazelnut/hazenut meal
160g unsalted butter, cubed
pinch of salt
12 fresh cherries, pits removed*
12 dried sour cherries
12 whole pecans, lightly toasted
1. Prepare beurre noisette: Place the cubed butter and dried lavender into a small pot. Place on a stove with medium fire. Heat the butter and swirl the pot occasionally. The butter will start to melt before the the milk solids (white) start browning. The butter will have a golden brown colour. Set aside to cool, allowing the lavender flavour to infuse while you prepare your other ingredients.
2. In a bowl, place sugar, flour and ground almond, salt together. Whisk the dry ingredients a little. Add in the beurre noisette (including the brown sediments and dried lavender).
3. Add in the egg whites slowly while whisking till incorporated. You do not need to create too much volume in the egg whites. \
4. Spoon the batter into your moulds (I used rectangular silicon moulds), if you are using aluminium moulds, do grease your moulds with melted butter to ensure that the friands do not stick after baking. Add in a cherry, a sour cherry and a pecan to each of the friands. Bake in a preheated 190 degrees celcius oven and bake for 15- 18 minutes (depending on the size of the friands), or until golden-brown and it springs back slightly to touch.
5. Allow them to cool to room temperature before serving. You can dust them with some icing sugar if you are serving them to friends for tea!
*Tip for removing the pits of cherries: Remove the cherry stalk. Then use a plain piping nozzle ( I used size no 10) to pressed down the center of the cherry and push the pip through. No need to buy a cherry pitter!