Sunday, February 14, 2010

Third time's the charm - Gluten free lady fingers and tiramisu

I mentioned my lady finger woes (one too crunchy, the other too cake-y) to a friend. We were discussing possible flavor components for the tiramisu - did you really think it would be possible for me to just follow a recipe, by this point, I think the jig is up - and he mentioned, "coffee, vanilla, ooh almond! How about almond meal in the cookies?!"
There was one recipes that I did come across that called for almond meal and potato starch as the main ingredients, so with one more trip to the store I deemed that another batch of lady fingers would be worth a try. And you know what... it totally worked!
I slightly modified the last recipe and then combined it with a tinkered version of Cooking for Engineer's Simple Tiramisu and voila! A surprise dessert that even surprised me, because I liked it!

Gluten Free Lady Fingers
5 tbsp almond meal flour
2 tbsp sweet rice flour
2 tbsp millet flour
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp potato starch
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs separated
pinch cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
*silpat or parchment paper

1. Combine the almond meal, rice, millet, corn, potato starches, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites and the cream of tartar until they form soft peaks. Slowly sprinkle in 2tbsp of the 1/4 cup of sugar. Whip until soft peaks.
3. In a separate bowl combine the remaining sugar, egg yolks and vanilla. Whip until light yellow and the batter forms ribbons when you dip the beater into it - it should ooze off in a ribbon. This is going to take at least 5 minutes.
4. Add 1/4 of the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture, fold until almost combined. In three separate stages, sift in the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture.
5. In two more additions, gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
6. Load the batter into a pastry bag with a 1/2" round tip or into a zip-top bag, and cut a 1/2" hole in the corner.
7. Pipe the mixture onto the baking pan lined with a silpat or parchment. Shoot for 3-4" lines with 1'' of space between each cookie.
8. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (ha, forgot to do this AGAIN)
9. Bake at 325F for 10-15 minutes until the edges just begin to turn golden brown.
10. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 4-5 minutes, then gently pull back the silpat/parchment and place the cookies on a wire rack to completely cool.

They turned out wonderfully! So as they cooled, I started on the tiramisu.

Gluten Free Tiramisu
1lb. mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum (you can use more if you like)
2-3 ounces of prepared espresso
1/3-1/2 cup prepared coffee
cocoa powder

1. Place the cream in a mixing bowl and whip till it reaches stiff peaks. (This will happen faster than you think, so keep an eye on it. If it goes for too long you will have butter. I am not joking, it will happen and it is delicious, but then you will have to start all over again.)
2. In a separate container, wide enough to fit the cookies, mix the coffee, espresso and rum. 
3. In a separate bowl combine the cheese, sugar, vanilla bean seeds (the inside of a vanilla bean scraped) and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.
4. Get your container that is going to house your final tiramisu ready. 
5. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture. It should lighten it and increase the volume.
Now you are ready to assemble!
6. Dip one lady finger into the coffee mixture for 1-2 seconds total, flipping it once. Then place 4-5 dipped lady fingers onto the bottom of your dish.
7. Place a few scoops of the cheese mixture atop and spread out evenly. 
8. Dust cocoa powder over the top.
Traditional tiramisu has two layers of cookies - but it seemed like a weird/wrong ratio, so I did 3 layers.
9. Repeat the steps (1 or 2 more times) and generously cocoa the top.
10. Place in the refrigerator to cool and set up.

The cookies were a lot more delicate than traditional lady fingers. So a very short dipping time is key. That and moving quickly.

I then covered it and put it in the fridge.
It was so delicious the next day.
Overall the flavor was better than any tiramisu I have had. The vanilla bean in the cheese mixture really helped. The lady fingers held up and held the coffee, my only critique is that the almond meal with noticeable in the fact that its not as fine as  the other flours. It wasn't unpleasant, but it was a texture that wasn't creamy and soft like the rest of the dish.


  1. What kind of almond meal did you use? I've been experimenting, and thus far, the Honeyville blanched almond flour seems to give much smoother results than any of the almond meals.

    I've used them in equal measure trying to get lighter breads/biscuits/muffins, and while I'm still not happy with my bread the biscuits were quite good although a bit flat. I think I'll try whipping the egg whites first next time to see if the volume helps.

    This sounds delicious and looks good too.

  2. alumiere - I used Bob's Red Mills almond flour and my only problem with it was that it was a bit uneven; some bits were larger than others and stood out for sure. I have never tried Honeyville.

    It sounds like egg whites might help, but I wonder if your biscuits need more butter &/or leaveners to help rise. What recipe(s) are you using?

  3. I have just found your blog and am loving reading back issues. But holy cow! I was unprepared for feeling tears spring to my eyes at seeing lady fingers and tiramisu recipes. It's been a loooong time. Thanks so much for sharing such great content. I'm reading and nodding and smiling. Great work.

  4. Karen - Thank you so much! The lady fingers were easier than I expected once I got the hang of them. Its sort of the best to figure something out and share!