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Berry Financiers

Berry Financiers

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After months of talking about how hard it is to find digital classes up in the Bay Area, we took the matter into our hands.  We looked at the resources in front of us.  We have so many friends who work professionally in a creative space, from photography all the way to filmmaking.  We sat with them explained the situation and the playground was born – Digital Media Playground.  We are going to keep the workshops, small and intimate.  We feel the best way to learn is by actually doing what you want to learn.  We won’t sit you in a room, hand you a manual and fly through a session.  You will get to work  side by side with the instructor.  You will ask the questions.  You will learn.  We are currently populating the calendar with an agenda;  but we currently have some exciting workshops scheduled with some very talented photographers.   We are starting off with  beginning photographystudio shooting and food photography workshops.  We personally know each photographer who will be teaching and can tell you right here and right now;  you will be learning a lot while having fun.  I may even make a batch or two of a favorite snack Berry Financiers to serve during the workshops.


Our featured workshop for May will be with Sara Remington (the photo of the berries was taken by her).  I am really excited that Sara will be teaching this hands-on workshop about food photography.  I mean, have you seen her drool-worthy photography?  She currently has 15 books out there featuring her work, the most recent being:  The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook and My Nepenthe:  Bohemian Tales of Food, Family and Big Sur.  Sara believes in shooting organically, with ingredients and natural settings.  If you want to learn how to shoot stunning photographs as well as how to style them, then this is the class for you.  I caught a glimpse of the agenda a couple of weeks ago ….. I am so excited for all of you.  You are going to learn so much!!!   You will not want to miss it!  To sign up and for more information please visit this link.  Or if you have any questions please do not hesitate to drop me an email or tweet me.   As well be sure to check out some of her most recent work from a shoot in Greece;  but, prepare to become very hungry from these fantastic food scenes.

I am so happy that berry season is lurking around the corner!  Literally just waiting to burst into our lives.  We are big berry eaters this time of the year, all the way to the last bite.  Lenny and I don’t discriminate, we love them all, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, ollie berries.  You name it, you will find throughout the season over at Chez Us.  Not only are they the perfect ingredient, but they are the perfect snack.  Come over on a weekend and you will find a big bowl of them on the counter.

I have fond memories of berry picking and summer is just not summer without a trip to the berry farm to pick.  Since I don’t have kids to torture, I drag MEM (they do love it) and we pick berries and we eat berries.  I love their little berry covered faces and fingers.  All the way home we talk about how we are going to use the berries;  ice cream, muffins, sauces for ice cream or the best way …. stuffed into our mouths!  It really is a great way to bring the season into our kitchen.

I had some leftover egg whites the other day and needed some new creativity, so I put a tweet out.  Normally I make macarons;  but, Pim convinced me (which was not very hard to do) to venture over to Dorie’s kitchen and to make her financiers.  If you are not familiar with them, financiers are a little square French cake.  They were created by a French pastry chef by the name of  Lasne in the nineteeth century.  They are made of egg whites, ground almonds, sugar, flour and a lot of butter (the first time I misread the recipe and added 3 sticks).  It is not quite time to hit the berry farm;  but, I did manage to find a few pre-season raspberries that looked great and were slightly sweet.  As well I had a few blueberries laying around, so I decided to add a little berry kiss to each of the financiers.  As well I did not have the square little pans that are normally used and could not find them in San Francisco.  Pim said to use a muffin pan which worked perfectly.  These little cakes are delightful and you will definitely be seeing them more often over at Chez Us.

(photo taken by Sara Remington)


Berry Financiers

*recipe from Dorie Greenspan – permission to print was granted


1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces; 180 grams) unsalted butter

1 cup (200 grams) sugar

1 cup (100 grams) ground almonds

6 large egg whites

2/3 cup (90 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 pint raspberries or blueberries

How To:

Put the butter in a small saucepan and bring it to the boil over medium heat, swirling the

pan occasionally. Allow the butter to bubble away until it turns a deep brown, but don’t

turn your back on the pan – the difference between brown and black is measured in

seconds. Pull the pan from the heat and keep it in a warm place.

Mix the sugar and almonds together in a medium saucepan. Stir in the egg whites, place

the pan over low heat, and, whisking constantly, heat the mixture until it is runny, slightly

white and hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into

a mixing bowl, stir in the flour, then gradually mix in the melted butter. Transfer the batter

to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the batter to create an

airtight seal, and chill for at least 1 hour. (The batter can be kept covered in the

refrigerator for up to 3 days.)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Butter

12 rectangular financier molds or muffin tins. If using molds, place on a baking sheet for

easy transport. Fill each mold almost to the top with batter or fill the muffin tins halfway.

Place a couple berries on top of each. Slide the molds or the muffin tins into the oven and

bake for about 13 minutes, or until the financiers are golden, crowned and springy to the

touch. If necessary, run a blunt knife between the cookies and the sides of the pans, then

turn the cookies out of their molds and allow them to cool to room temperature right side

up on cooling racks.

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Monday 3rd of May 2010

great post as usual!

Megan Gordon

Sunday 25th of April 2010

Alright! This is awesome, Denise! I'm so happy you guys are kicking the project into full swing, and wish I could come along for Sara's class. I find her work so inspiring, and I'm sure it'll be an amazing day.

And I think you tweeted me about these lovely little guys and I was in Seattle and it slipped my mind to check out the link--but yes, we were on the same berry wavelength around the same time :) I love financiers! Have them sometimes at La Boulange with tea although not sure I've ever had them with berries, so I'll have to try these. Perfect afternoon snack (of which I've been making an all-too-frequent indulgence lately).

courtney aka glamah

Thursday 22nd of April 2010

Oh Im off to check on these workshops. Nice finaciers. Very sprng like. Have only had chcolate versions.

[email protected]

Wednesday 21st of April 2010

Love the financiers - they look amazing! And what fabulous news!!! Pity you are all so far away....

My Man's Belly

Tuesday 20th of April 2010

Congrats on the good news! Your financiers look great with the berries. I made these in my cooking class in Paris with pistachio paste. But the berries would be much easier to get my hands on here.