I have never been much of a sweets or pastries person. Except for the one summer I worked in a bakery and gained twenty pounds eating muffin tops. But that is a story for another day. A little over a year ago, an incredible bakery in Atwater Village called Proof opened its doors. My husband, Andre, and I spend a lot of time there, sampling pastries, eating sandwiches, and enjoying delicious lattés. I quickly fell in love with a Black Sesame Financier and while visiting my sister in Oregon this past July, decided to try and recreate one for her. My first time around I followed a financier recipe from Joy of Baking, but now, several months later, have adapted it slightly, often times substituting gluten free flour into the mix. Either way, these are such a treat. A perfect way to start or end the day.


1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Flour or all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon alcohol free vanilla extract
Fresh figs
Homemade Ricotta (recipe to follow)
Maldon Salt
Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, placing the oven rack in the center of the oven.

Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter, allowing it to foam and come to a boil. When it starts to bowl, swirl the butter around the pan. Continue to cook the butter until it looks clear and the milk solids have started to stick to the bottom of the pan and brown. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. You should be left with a clear butter liquid. Let it cool at room temperature. Use 1/3 cup of the brown butter in the recipe. Any remaining butter can be used to butter the mini muffin baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt. Make a small well in the center of the dry mixture and fold in the lightly beaten egg whites, vanilla, and brown butter. Take a mini muffin baking sheet and butter the muffin molds. Fill each mold almost to the rim with the mixture and place a small slice of fig on top. Bake for 8-11 minutes until the tops are golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Fill a small ramekin with a small scoop of homemade ricotta. Drizzle honey on top, a sprinkle of Maldon salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Serve along side the warm financiers.


3 cups whole organic milk
1 cup heavy cream (preferably organic)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Cheesecloth or a thin piece of cotton fabric, such as a thin cotton napkin

Heat milk and cream in a large saucepan over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour in the lemon juice. Stir gently 2 or 3 times to mix the lemon juice into the milk and cream. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes. You will see the curds start to form. Place several layers of cheesecloth or the cotton napkin over a strainer and place this over a large bowl. Gently pour the mixture over the cloth covered strainer and let the mixture drain for at least 45 minutes or more. You will begin to see the liquid drip into the bowl below the strainer. The longer you let the cheese strain, the firmer your cheese will be. Once you are satisfied with the consistency, scoop the fresh ricotta into a container and store in the refrigerator. The cheese will also firm up over night in the fridge. I wait to salt the cheese so that I can use it for both sweet and savory dishes.