The beloved Ladyfinger... a classic European cookie of royal lineage. Depending on where you hang your hat, she might also be called a Savoiardi or Boudoir biscuit. She's been the devoted handmaiden and unsung culinary hero of elaborate Tiramisu, Trifle and Charlotte desserts dating back to the 15th century.
Traditional Ladyfingers are scantly sweet. They have a crisp, golden exterior and a pillowy-soft soul. Demure by nature, you won't find proper Ladyfingers lingering on a tawdry market isle. All for the greater good, because these delightful digits are scrumptious... and they're incredibly easy to make, too!
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Step 1: Ingredients and Tools:
- 3 large Eggs* (4 medium)
- 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup Cake flour (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- no-stick cooking spray
- Electric mixer
- Sifter or fine-mesh strainer
- Parchment paper (non-negotiable)
- Wooden spoon
- Flat metal spatula
- Baking sheets (preferably two, but one will do)
- Ziplock baggie and scissors-or- Pastry bag w/ 3/4" round tip
- assorted bowls
Eggs are sized on their weight. Therefore, medium eggs weigh between 53 - 63g, large eggs weigh between 63 - 73g and extra large eggs weigh more than 73g.
Here's another helpful egg conversion chart from whatscookingamerica.net that you may want to bookmark for future reference.
Other egg sizes may be more or less than the amounts listed below.
1 whole egg = 3 tablespoons
1/2 whole egg = 4 teaspoons
6 to 7 egg yolks = 1/2 cup
1 egg yolk = 1 tablespoon
4 to 6 egg whites = 1/2 cup
1 egg white = 2 tablespoons
Ok... enough trivia... back to baking Ladyfingers! ;-)
Step 2: Prep Work:
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Draw a 3/4" line across the corner of the baggie. Don't snip it just yet. Open the baggie and place it in a deep bowl. Fold the sides of the baggie over the rim of the bowl. You'll snip the opening after the baggie has been filled with batter... or you can just use a pastry bag if you have one.
Spray the baking sheets lightly with no-stick spray and line them with parchment paper. Refrigerate the lined sheets for a few minutes while the cookie batter is being prepared.
Step 3: Ladyfinger Batter:
2. Separate the eggs: Yolks in a small glass bowl; whites in a large non-plastic mixing bowl.
3. With the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until until stiff peaks form.
4. Gradually add the granulated sugar and continue beating until the egg whites form stiff, glossy peaks.
5. Beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork. Gently fold them into the meringue with a wooden spoon until just combined.
6. Sift the cake flour over the egg mixture a little at a time, folding it in as you go. It's important to fold the flour in slowly and gently so the batter maintains a lofty texture. Overworking the batter will cause it to deflate and lose volume, resulting in flat, unattractive ladyfingers.
Step 4: Piping the Ladyfinger Batter:
Wipe out the sifter with a paper towel and add the powdered sugar.
Remove the parchment-lined baking sheet from the refrigerator.
Spoon the batter into the baggie (or pastry bag). Use scissors to cut along the pre-drawn line.
Pipe the batter into lines 3-4" long and 3/4" wide, spacing the ladyfingers about 1" apart. I found it easiest to pipe the batter horizontally onto the parchment (like writing a letter) but you may prefer to pipe vertically.
Dust the Ladyfingers with a light coating of powdered sugar. Wait 3-4 minutes then dust them lightly again. The final dusting is what gives the Ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Bake for 5 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet and bake another 5-7 minutes or until the ladyfingers are lightly golden.
Remove the Ladyfingers from the oven and slide the parchment paper onto a wire rack. Let the cookies cool for just a few minutes, then use the spatula to remove them from the parchment while they're still warm. If you let them completely cool before removing them, they tend to stick and are hard to remove without breaking. Broken fingers are always a bad thing. ;-)
If you need to reuse the same baking sheet for the second batch, be sure to cool it completely before attempting to pipe the batter. Just run the baking sheet under cold water or put it in the frig for a few minutes... and don't forget to line it with more parchment paper before piping. ;-)
When the baking is complete, you'll have 30-40 beautiful Ladyfingers to create a masterpiece dessert!
You can also store leftover cookies in an airtight container and freeze them for future use.
Step 5: Author's Notes:
This Ladyfinger recipe was adapted from Rosa's Yummy Yums blogspot where it received a bajillion rave reviews. It appealed to me from both a visual and simplistic standpoint. Rosa also offers an full tutorial on homemade Tiramisu that has definitely made my dessert bucket list for 2013. I'm certain it won't taste anything less than pure delicioso!
Thank you for sharing, Rosa!!!
I've included a sneak peek of my still-under-construction recipe: Cherry Bomb Charlotte using the Ladyfingers from this recipe. I hope to perfect it and publish soon! ;-p~
In the meantime... is that a Trifle I hear calling your name? ;-)
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