Learn how to make ladyfingers using a simple mixing and piping technique. Use them to make tiramisu, trifles, cakes, and more!
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You can’t make tiramisu without using ladyfinger cookies. Don’t buy packages from the store to make the next batch. I’ll show you step-by-step how easy it is to make at home to make it extra special. I first learned how to make them in culinary school, and I was surprised at how easy it was to master them! Using simple ingredients that you already have in your kitchen and a mixer, you can make them too.
Whole eggs give a light and airy consistency, perfect for soaking up flavorful liquid like espresso. The key is whipping the yolks and whites separately, then folding them together with sugars and flour to make a pipable batter. Depending on how long you bake them, you can get a softer, spongy cake-like texture or more dry and crisp. Bakers choice! The ladyfingers recipe is versatile for your next gourmet dessert or enjoy dipped in coffee or tea.
Make a meringue
To create a light, airy, and sponge-like texture in ladyfingers, create a meringue. I do a similar technique when making lemon meringue pie. Separate the egg whites from the yolks. Use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment to whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until very soft peaks are formed.
The salt helps to stabilize the egg whites so that once it becomes foamy, not as much moisture seeps out. Gradually add a mixture of granulated sugar and powdered sugar, this mix on high until stiff peaks form. The sugars add sweetness to the cookie and help create a glossy, thick foam that doesn’t deflate quickly.
Whip the egg yolks
Egg yolks add richness and golden color to the ladyfinger. Otherwise, when baked, the texture will be more like a crispy white meringue cookie that melts in the mouth with no chew. The yolk is combined with vanilla extract and granulated sugar.
The egg yolk mixture is whipped until it thickens and is pale yellow. This indicates that air has been incorporated, other will it will make the batter dense instead of light. The process takes about 5 minutes at medium-high speed.
Make the batter
Add the whipped egg whites and egg yolk mixture to a large bowl. Sift the all-purpose flour on those. This will aerate the flour, making it easier to incorporate. Very gently fold the ingredients together, making sure there are no pockets of flour. You don’t want to deflate the air from the whipped eggs.
Pipe the batter into strips
I use a large piping bag and a 1/2-inch plain tip to make the task easy. Alternatively, if using a disposable bag, cut a 1/2-inch wide opening at the bottom. Pipe the batter into 3-inch long and 1-inch wide strips on a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
They should be at least an inch apart. I can get 24 per tray. To prevent spreading, sprinkle powdered sugar on the unbaked piped batter. It will dissolve into the wet batter, and that’s okay.
Bake the cookies at 350ºF (177ºC). This will gently cook the batter while quickly setting the structure. Bake time determines how soft or hard the ladyfingers will be.
For a soft sponge cake texture, bake until the surface dries, but the cookie bounces back when touched, about 10 to 14 minutes. It will be pale yellow in color.
For a drier cookie, bake until more golden in color and stiff to the touch, about 16 to 18 minutes. I prefer this texture for the best soaking ability in desserts like tiramisu.
Cool on the warm tray for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool to room temperature. I dust the ladyfingers with powdered sugar after cooling them for an attractive appearance.
Serve this with
Frequently asked question
They are delicate Italian biscuit cookies, also known as savoiardi. It’s made using whipped eggs, sugar, and flour for a light and spongy texture. The long shape of the sponge fingers looks like the hands of a lady, hence the name, lady fingers.
Typically the texture is crunchy. This makes for a dry cookie that can soak up a lot of liquid to flavor a dessert, like an espresso for tiramisu. Homemade ladyfingers can be baked less so that the centers are softer.
Storing in an airtight container at room temperature will keep the cookies for about 3 to 5 days. The longer they sit, the more moisture is absorbed, making them softer. They can be stored in a resealable plastic bag and frozen for up to 2 months.
Make different tiramisu flavors like coffee, matcha, lemon, egg nog, or strawberry. Layer them in a trifle, cups, or parfaits with whipped cream and fresh berries. Use them in ice cream cakes for a quick, easier sponge cake layer.
Preventing flat ladyfingers
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Don’t over-whip until it looks grainy and clumpy. It makes it hard for the egg proteins to trap the air, deflating easier when piped and baked. Always sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar before baking! The cornstarch in the ingredient and moisture wicking ability of the sugar prevent the ladyfingers from spreading out into a flat pancake when baked.
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar, plus more for dusting
- 4 large eggs, white and yolks separated
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- Preheat the Oven – Set the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Preheat to 350ºF (177ºC). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly coat with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Set aside.
- Whip the Egg Whites – In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites and salt on high speed (setting 10) until very soft peaks form, about 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce to medium speed (setting 5), then gradually add the sugar mixture.Increase the speed to high (setting 10), and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, about 30 to 45 seconds. Carefully transfer the whipped egg whites to a large bowl and set aside.
- Mix the Egg Yolks – In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks, vanilla, and ¼ cup of granulated sugar at medium-high speed (setting 8) until thick and pale yellow, about 5 minutes.
- Make the Batter – Pour the egg yolk mixture into the bowl of egg white mixture. Sift the flour on top, then gently fold it in with a spatula until combined.
- Bake the Cookies – Bake both trays for 10 minutes. Switch and rotate the trays, and bake until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Cool the cookies on the trays for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust with more powdered sugar.
- For Softer Cookies: Bake the cookies for 7 minutes, then switch and rotate. Bake until the surface is dry, set, and soft when pressed, about 3 to 7 minutes.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- Freeze: Store in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer for up to 2 months. Defrost before use.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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