Finger biscuits, or 'Lady Fingers' and Tiramisu

Monday, August 08, 2011

We've more or less moved in to our new home. Today, officially, we've been here for one week and we have discovered the following:

- our neighbour likes to have loud parties until 6am, but the noise police close at 4am
- the new oven is more of a '180'C for 7 minutes' type of oven than a '180'C for 10 minutes' oven
- there are a lot of cats in our neighbourhood (yay)
- it's really, really nice to eat at a dining room table

Anyway, yesterday I tested my new oven with a new recipe. We were planning on having our first braai (that's a barbeque for all of you non-South African folk) and I really wanted to bake something after a week-long hiatus. Tiramisu, perhaps? I found a lovely recipe for finger biscuits (called 'lady fingers' over here) and I've been saving them up for a special occasion. They are really popular in my family - bite-sized, sugar coated, perfect-for-dipping-in-coffee biscuits and they're ideal for Tiramisu too.

The recipe is amazing: essentially, you make meringues, then fold in the egg yolks and some flour. Here's a link to the recipe on KeyIngredient:

The 'dough' or 'batter' ends up being thick like mousse with the lightness of meringues and the colour of custard.

You then pipe the biscuit shapes onto a piece of baking paper, and sprinkle with icing sugar twice before baking for ten minutes. My biscuity shapes are a bit wonky because I snipped off the corner of a bag (my piping bag is still in a box somewhere).

You need to tap off the excess icing sugar before baking them otherwise the sugar will caramelise. It was at this moment that I discovered my oven is a 7-minute kind of oven - so  you bake your finger biscuits until they're lightly golden, rather than until the time specified in the recipe.

And while we're on the subject, here's my ta-da moment for you: tiramisu made with home-baked finger biscuits.

Tiramisu is the simplest of desserts which can really be adjusted to suit your particular dessert needs. A lot of recipes add in a layer of chocolate sprinkles or caramel, some add in pastry cream (which is a bit like custard) -- all of which are equally delicious. My tiramisu was a plain variant, made up like this:

- 1 packet finger biscuits (or one whole batch of baked, delicious biscuits if you can stop yourself from 'tasting')
- 1 tub marscapone (125ml)
- 1 tub double cream (125ml)
- 3T coffee dissolved in 1C of hot water
- 1 shot measure of brandy
- unsweetened cocoa to decorate
- chocolate shavings to decorate

1. Mix the brandy and coffee together, then dip half of the finger biscuits into the mixture until the biscuits are moist (but not soggy). Line the bottom of your preferred dish with moist biscuits.
2. Cream the marscapone and cream together until thick and spreadable. Then, spread half of this mixture on top of your biscuit layer. If you want to add in an extra layer of caramel or chocolate, then now's the time to do it.
3. Repeat both of the previous layers, then top with sifted unsweetened cocoa and chocolate shavings (I used bitter, dark chocolate for this). Refrigerate until set (about 20 minutes).
4. Serve as generously-sized slices with coffee.

I would definitely increase the amount of coffee used as I prefer a tiramisu that is quite distinctive in flavour. The rest of it was delicious, though, and everyone had two pieces (which is rather impressive for a house full of people who don't like dessert). Even the leftover finger biscuits (saved for tea time) disappeared!

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  1. OMG - homemade finger biscuits for your fancy are you! That's awesome dedication you purist you ;-)

    Not so awesome = loud neighbours.
    We've had our fair share of those in the past seven and a half years, and they suck BIG time.
    BUT mercifully, our "new" townhouse is happily ensconced amongst a bunch of geriatrics whose idea of a party is tea at ten in the morning....fabulous!

  2. Double yum!!! I think you should move in next to me - lots of cats and very quiet at night....and I would very nobly sample all your recipes.....just a thought xxx

  3. I have an oven like that...but it's taken me the longest time to adjust my thinking :) I still burn things on occasion when I forget! Glad you've settled in to your new abode, and hope those noisy neighbours stop partying quite so hard!

  4. Thank you all for your well wishes :) We seem to be settling in okay, but I still seem to be stumbling into boxes at every turn!

    Juanita, I couldn't agree more: older neighbours are GOOD neighbours. Plus, they like tea and cake.

    Andrea, I'm seriously considering it ;)We could do an exchange: I'll come to yours for crochet lesson and you can come to mine for tea and cake.

    Suzitee, I burnt a cake just this weekend - it's so depressing! But, I'm absolutely going to try again and watch the silly thing like a hawk. We can't have half-baked cakes now. :)


  5. I think I constantly say this.. I heart Tiramisu. Not much words to describe other than YUuuuuuuUUUUuuuuuuuuMMMMMmmmmmmm.. and may I have a slice please? Thanks for stopping by my blog too. Btw, I've tagged you to Seven Links. Do pop over.


  6. I love tiramisu too, it's such an understated treat! I'm sure you could whip up a tiramisu-inspired layer cake for a new post ;) thanks for stopping by x


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