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Ladyfingers Tested Recipe

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Ladyfingers Recipe

You may know them as Ladyfingers but these long finger- or oval-shaped cookies are also known around the world as Boudoir biscuits, sponge biscuits, sponge fingers, Naples biscuits, Savoy biscuits (Savoiardi) and biscuits la cuiller.  Ladyfingers are very similar to Cat's Tongue Cookies (Langues-de-chat).  The first mention of ladyfinger cookies was in John Keats' poem 'The Cap and Bells' (1820) "Fetch me that Ottoman, and prithee keep your voice low, said the Emperor; and steep some lady's-fingers nice in Candy wine". 

Ladyfingers are made from a sponge cake batter where the egg yolks and sugar are beaten together until thick, to which vanilla extract, sifted flour and beaten egg whites are folded in.  The batter is then piped into long finger-shaped cookies which are dusted with sugar before baking to give them a crisp sweet crust.  The batter contains more flour than most sponge recipes to make it thick enough to pipe.  Although these delicate sponge cookies can be eaten on their own as a petit four or as an accompaniment to ice creams, they really shine when soaked in a syrup and used as part of more complex desserts such as Tiramisu, English Trifles, or Charlottes.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  To make the piping of the cookies easier, use a pencil and ruler to divide the parchment paper into three - 3 inch (7.5 cm) rows, with about 1 inch (2.54 cm) between rows.   Have ready a large pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) round tip.

In your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons (25 grams) white sugar on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and pale yellow.  (When you raise the beaters the batter should fall back into the bowl in a slow ribbon.)  Beat in the vanilla extract.  Sift the cake flour over the batter but do not fold in.

In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy.  Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the 3 tablespoons (36 grams) white sugar and whip until stiff peaks form and the whites are glossy.  Fold the whites into the egg yolk and flour mixture in three additions, mixing only until incorporated. 

Transfer the batter to the pastry bag and, holding the bag at about a 45 degree angle to the baking sheet, pipe the batter into 3 inch (7.5 cm) long ladyfingers, using the lines drawn on the parchment paper as your guide.  Pipe the batter leaving about a 1 inch (2.54 cm) space between the cookies.  

When you have piped all the cookies, place the powdered sugar in a wire strainer, and lightly sift the sugar over the tops of the cookies.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the ladyfingers are firm but barely browned and are still spongy when pressed with a finger.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and slide the parchment paper from the baking sheets onto a wire rack.  Let the ladyfingers cool for a few minutes and release them from the parchment paper, with a flat spatula, while they are still warm.  If you left them completely cool before removing them from the parchment they stick and hard to remove without breaking.  Finish cooling the ladyfingers on the wire rack before using or storing.  If you are not using the ladyfingers right away, freeze them.  Ladyfingers stale very quickly unless they are soaked in a liquid.  To store, place in a plastic bag between layers of wax or parchment paper and freeze up to 2 weeks.

Makes about 4 1/2 dozen 3 inch (7.5 cm) Ladyfingers.

 

1/2 cup (65 grams) cake flour, sifted

3 large egg yolks, room temperature

2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar, divided

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar

3 tablespoons (36 grams) granulated white sugar

Powdered (icing or confectioners) sugar for dusting the tops of the cookies

 
 
     
 

 

 

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