How to Make Happy Savoiardi Lady Finger Cookies in 15 mins
When I think of Savoiardi lady fingers cookies, something soft and airy comes to my mind.
Something that literally melts in your mouth. This Italian dessert can satisfy any sweet tooth.
I believe it is impossible not to like it. And you don’t necessarily need to serve it as a dessert. It goes really well with a cup of coffee in the morning or tea in the afternoon. In fact, any moment of the day can be perfect for some lady finger cookies.
My mom never baked these goodies. But back when I was a kid she used to buy them and serve only at parties. Unfortunately, she didn’t throw many parties.
So when my parents were having a celebration, I would gather the kids and steal all the recipients that contained Savoiardi biscuits. We were hiding and enjoying the cookies.
We were having fun laughing about our parents’ inattention. I’ve lived under the impression that my mom didn’t know about our game for a long time.
Coincidentally, she was at my place few years ago when I first baked my own lady fingers. She started to laugh and asked me: “Do you remember when you were young and used to steal my cookies and hide them?” I looked at her with my eyes widened: “So you did know?” “Of course I knew, I followed you one year because I couldn’t imagine where they could disappear!” So long my well-kept family secret…
Lady fingers cookies have an oval shape and too many names if you ask me. They are known as sponge fingers, Boudoir Biscuits, Naples biscuits, biscuits a cuiller, sponge biscuits or Savoy biscuits (Savoiardi).
They are made out of sponge cake batter and shaped like a finger. A huge finger. I can’t understand why they called them “lady fingers”. No lady has such fingers.
Maybe a giant lady.
Perhaps they thought of the delicate batter and the delicate woman fingers and this special name was born.
However, they are considered a work of art, one of the rarest delicacies of bakers. Lady fingers are used for sophisticated French or Italian desserts.
Who Invented the Savoiardi Lady Fingers Cookies?
From what we know, there are insignificant changes in the original recipe which probably dates from the 11th century. Some believe that this dessert, which is about nine hundred years-old, was first prepared in France at the House of Savoy.
Writings point out that it is possible the descendants of Bertha of Savoy have carried the recipe throughout Europe’s royal families.
Another theory says that “Biscotti din Savoia” first saw the light at the court of Amedeo VI. His official cook prepared it for a luxury dinner in honor of the French royal family.
It had a great success and was officially adopted by the House of Savoy. All the young royal figures craved for these cookies.
Legends say that in the 18th century, Peter the Great of Russia visited Louis XV of France together with his wife, empress Catherine.
They were served with the biscuits at a royal feast. The two Russians loved the dessert so much that they decided to purchase the baker himself and send him directly to Saint Petersburg.
What are Ladyfingers?
Ladyfingers are crumbly biscuits, very light and airy. This texture is given by the egg whites which are beaten so long that they incorporate a lot of air.
You should keep that in mind: you need to beat the whites until the mixture is stiff.
While they are baking, the air bubbles develop and inflate the biscuits which translates into a foamy consistency.
You will also be able to find them under the name of “spoon biscuits”. These cookies are versatile and have an extended use in the preparation of various desserts such as “zupa inglese” or soufflé.
Probably the best known classic treat which uses ladyfingers is tiramisu. They can also be served with chocolate or vanilla sauces, ice cream or fruit salads.
Tiramisu is probably one of the most famous desserts in the whole world. You will find it in restaurants all across Europe and America. Although it is known that tiramisu was born in kitchen in Treviso, many regions in Italy dispute the rights for the original recipe. Unlike many other Italian desserts, tiramisu is a recent invention from 1970.
Roberto Loli Linguanotto had a culinary experience in Germany and started to like soft cakes. Once he came back home, had the brilliant idea of soaking some sponge cake in coffee and adding mascarpone to it. He managed to combine all the everyday flavors of the region: eggs, strong coffee, Marsala, creamy mascarpone and lady finger cookies into a brilliant cake. Although it was born in a small kitchen in Treviso, the delicious dessert passed the borders of the town and of Italy too.
The chef who invented it left the region but regularly came back to see that the demand for Tiramisu was increasing each year.
Now that we know the history, let's see how we can make Savoiardi lady fingers cookies from scratch.
How to Make Savoiardi Lady Fingers Cookies from Scratch?
Many people believe that these goodies can only be bought at the store. But let me present you this easy recipe for you to be able to prepare them at home.
The taste of the home baked ones is incomparably better.
And the good news is that, after making the cookies you will be very close to preparing the best tiramisu ever.
Although this royal dish may seem kind of exquisite and complicated, it is actually quite simple. You will only need to have a little patience so that you will beat the whites until stiff peaks form.
This way you will ensure that you have an airy and soft texture.
Beating well the eggs is in fact the core of this recipe. Any sponge batter needs a lot of air. Unlike the classic sponge cake, lady finger recipe requires that you separate the yolks from the whites.
After doing this, you will whip both whites and yolks with sugar. So we may say that the secret key ingredient is air.
It is best to beat the egg whites with a standing or hand mixer until you get some stiff peaks. Your mixture will resemble a meringue.
There is the possibility of also using the electric mixer for the yolks, but you may also do that by hand. They should look pale and fluffy. This is the most important step in creating the perfect biscuits.
They will be spongy and light, having a soft interior and a crispy exterior. This is where their uniqueness comes from.
You will be needing all-purpose or cake flour, sugar and vanilla extract. And a pinch of salt. These are all the necessary ingredients for preparing the cookies.
The final step of this recipe is to sift the flour so that you will get a well-structured batter.
What Should Be the Texture of Lady Finger Cookies?
Well, the perfect ones are soft inside and a bit crunchy on the outside. However, keep in mind that they are very delicate and will start to firm up really fast after having contact with the air.
In fact, they are ideal for using in tiramisu or soaking in coffee and other goodies when they’re a bit old.
Gluten-free Savoiardi Lady Fingers Cookies
While you might think that people who have a food intolerance or allergy should keep a strict diet and say “good bye” to all the treats in life, you couldn’t be more further from the truth.
They do need to keep a strict diet which means to ditch gluten. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t enjoy a delicious ladyfinger. Because we can make gluten-free ladyfingers too.
And, to my surprise, the texture remains pretty much the same, it doesn’t disintegrate and can be dunk in coffee or aromatic teas. It is true that you will need more ingredients than for the classic lady finger recipe but it is all worth it, I promise you.
The procedure is pretty much the same and air, as the main ingredient, remains irreplaceable. The extra ingredients are xanthan gum, cornstarch and baking powder. Since it doesn’t contain gluten, the baking flour mix tends to rise harder and we can help it a bit by using baking powder.
Since the lady finger recipe is so easy to prepare, you can involve your kids into making it. After beating the yolks and whipping the whites, ask them to help with piping the biscuits.
Of course you won’t get such a perfect shape but I noticed it’s real fun to cook with children. And counts as quality time.
They will love it, trust me! But do be surprised if you don’t have the whole amount of cookies in the end. Act like you don’t even notice that your children have already eaten half of them.
- 3 pcs large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 pcs egg white, at room temperature
- 4 oz. sugar, divided
- 5 oz. cake flour
- ½ tbsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and then set aside.
- Separate the eggs and place the whites into the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment.
- Put the yolks in a large bowl. Add half of the sugar quantity and whisk by hand or with a hand mixer until they are fluffy and pale. Add the vanilla and set aside.
- Return to the whites and whip over medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the remaining sugar in a thin stream whipping continuously. It is very important not to add all the sugar at once, because the air needs to remain in the batter. Otherwise, the batter will deflate and the biscuits won’t be airy anymore. Continue to beat until the sugar is incorporated but the peaks remain.
- Pay attention to the next step too. You will need to fold the whites onto the yolks. Use a silicone or wooden spatula to do this. Be very gentle with the operation so that you keep the air inside.
- Begin sifting the flour over the egg mixture and incorporate it using the spatula. This also requires tenderness from your side. Keep doing it until all the flour is incorporated.
- Get a large piping bag and fill it with the batter. Pipe 3 ½ inches lines and place them 1 inch apart because they will grow a little while baking.
- Sprinkle powdered sugar on the cookies. Set aside for five minutes and then dust again with sugar.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes. The biscuits should be slightly golden around the edges. Leave them in the tray for about 5-10 minutes and then remove with a spatula while still warm.
- Serve immediately or wait for them to firm up a bit. Either way the taste is delicious.
- Let the ladyfingers cool completely before storing them in an airtight container.
- Let the eggs reach the room temperature before using them. If you don’t have enough time, simply place them in some warm water for thirty minutes.
- When you get the trays out of the oven, the cookies will be soft. They will firm up by coming in contact with the air. However, make sure you keep them in an airtight container so that they won’t get completely stiff. Although the taste won’t be altered.
- Another way of storing is to freeze them. You can wrap the cookies in a plastic foil or place in a container. Transfer to the freezer. They can keep up to eight weeks which is a great amount of time. To use them, just defrost for half an hour at room temperature.
- If you need to cook gluten-free ladyfingers, replace the flour with a gluten-free mix and add xanthan gum and baking powder.
- Pay attention! These cookies are delicious. Once you make them, you won’t be able to stop. You will repeat the recipe for certain. And you will get better biscuits each time.