Monday, February 25, 2013

Gluten-Free Ladyfingers

    I like to think that when faced with a challenge, I never give up. I keep going until I reach my goal. While I enjoy telling myself that, I know that is most definitely not always true - just ask my friend who takes Zumba with me. For sure, those dance moves are not something that I insist on mastering. There are times, though, when something that I don't get right the first time makes me persistent enough to keep going until it's great - like when it comes to baking.
Fun with the extra batter...
    When I make a new recipe for the first time, I start measuring and mixing with visions of Pinterest-worthy cakes and cookies dancing in my head (only sometimes are they also singing showtunes, but that's unrelated); only once I pull those treats out of the oven can I tell if my hopes were anywhere near accurate.
   This weekend, my mom wanted to make a classic Brazilian layered dessert (recipe coming soon!) that includes ladyfinger cookies. Since it's hard to find gluten-free ladyfingers in the grocery store, and I wanted her to be able to eat the dessert, I set about making my own version. Now, I assume the name "ladyfingers" comes from the long, thin shape of the cookies you find in the store - let's just say that my first attempt, while yummy, looked like "fingers" that would have to come from a lady weighing around 5 tons. So I sat on my kitchen floor and cried for a while munched on thin, crispy cookies while perusing the internet for a new recipe.
   I decided to try a whole different idea and go for a recipe that wasn't naturally gluten-free. I substituted in gluten-free all-purpose flour and a little xanthan gum for the regular flour, carefully whipped eggs, folded batter, and piped "fingers," and slid that tray into the oven. And somehow, magically - maybe it was just a better baking day for me (although the macarons I attempted to make later that night would beg to differ) - it worked. Out came fluffy ladyfingers that are perfect in any sort of creamy dessert, or just for snacking on with a cup of tea.
                                                            Gluten-Free Ladyfingers
                                                     (adapted from King Arthur Flour)

                                                           3 large eggs, separated
                                                     9 tablespoons granulated sugar
                                                        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
                               1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh is best, but bottled is okay)
                                                                 pinch of salt
                                              2/3 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
                                                       1 teaspoon xanthan gum
                                                 confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat the egg yolks, 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, vanilla extract, lemon juice and salt until light in color, and most of the sugar has dissolved. Set aside. 
In another bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until whites are stiff. 
Fold half the flour and all of the xanthan gum into the egg yolk mixture. Gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture, then add the remaining flour, stirring gently to mix. 
Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a half-inch plain round tip. Pipe batter about 1-inch wide and 4 inches long onto parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheets. Space ladyfingers about 1-inch apart. Sprinkle the tops lightly with confectioners' sugar. 
Bake for 15 minutes, or until a light gold color; don't let ladyfingers brown. Immediately remove from baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack. 
   -Makes about 24 ladyfingers.
Note: I seriously recommend doubling this recipe if you're planning on using the ladyfingers as part of a dessert - at least 20 will be consumed by excited family members hanging out in the kitchen as the cookies come out of the oven.


Cassandra Giovanni said...

Thanks for this great recipe! I couldn't find these anywhere at the store, and my dad really wanted me to be able to enjoy his father's day dessert! This is perfect! :)

Cassandra Giovanni

Cassandra Giovanni said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sophia said...

I'm glad you like it! Let me know if it works out :)

Cassandra Giovanni said...

It worked great, they were a little watery when I put them on the paper--but despite this they turned out great! My whole family said it was the best tiramsu that they had ever eaten!

Sophia said...

Yay! :)

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say I used this recipe and by mistake only put half the flour in and the result was amazing! Perfectly crisp on the outside, moist in the middle. They made the most fantastic tiramisu :)

Sophia said...

Great, I'm glad! I'll have to try it that way sometime :)

Phil said...

Sophia, keep doing what you do, the way that YOU do it.
My wife found out that she had to go Gluten free about 7 months ago and has been VERY disappointed in the taste of the gluten free products.(I'm sure you have experienced that) I am not a bragger but I make an amazingly good Tiramisu which is one of my wife's favorites. She was extremely disappointed knowing that she couldn't have it the way I have been making it for years. I wish that you could have been in our kitchen when I pulled one off the tray for her to taste, when the tears came down her face, I knew I would be making Tiramisu again.
The point of all of this is to say don't change your recipe. The batter was perfect, and they came out amazing. Not bashing anyone or looking for an argument, but mine came out perfect. The batter was thick and held up perfectly.
Great job!!!

Sophia said...

Thank you for the sweet comment - I'm so glad they worked out well for you! Enjoy the tiramisu, it sounds fabulous :)