We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cookie Recipe #50 - Ladyfingers

This recipe comes from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child published by Alfred A Knopf, New York, in 1971." Biscuits A La Cuiller is the name of it, translated into English - Ladyfingers. These cookies are so light they may levitate if left on their own! This was the first time I've made these and didn't find it difficult, just have to follow directions carefully.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 3 eggs, separated, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2/3 cup sifted flour, powdered sugar for sifting on top.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Separate eggs, placing the yolks in medium mixing bowl; whites in small bowl. (At this point, I put a medium glass mixing bowl and beaters into the freezer). Into bowl containing egg yolks, pour the sugar and beat well; add vanilla and continue beating until mixture is thick and pale yellow.
Remove bowl and beaters from freezer; pour egg whites into bowl along with pinch of salt and beat with cold beaters until soft peaks form when lifting beaters from mix. Sprinkle sugar over whites and continue beating until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted-can take several minutes.
Scoop one fourth of the egg whites over the top of the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Sift one fourth of the flour, and delicately fold in, by hand, until partially blended. Add one third of the remaining egg whites, sift on one third of the remaining flour, fold until partially blended, and repeat with half of each. Do not attempt to blend the mixture too thoroughly or you will deflate the batter; it must remain light and puffy. (Important to follow these directions carefully).
Scoop batter into pastry bag fitted with a round 1/2 inch tip (or place the tip in the end of a heavy food storage bag with the corner snipped off). Squeeze out even lines onto the prepared baking sheets, making finger shapes about 4 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide, spacing them 1 inch apart. Sift a layer of powdered sugar over the cookies and place in the oven.
Bake for about 20 minutes. Cookies are done when they are a very pale brown underneath their sugar coating. They should be slightly crusty outside, and tender but dry inside. If they are not baked enough, they will become soggy when they cool; overbaking makes them dry.
Remove from oven and transfer carefully to cooling racks.
These light cookies are good to eat just as they are or you can make a sandwich out of them filling with a glaze or icing of your choice. They are also used in other recipes, such as Tiramisu.
Makes about 2 - 2 1/2 dozen fingers.
Cookies Rule!!!

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