I must admit I was taken aback by the resemblance between my pink lady fingers and the pink French tea biscuit that is one of the oldest cookie recipes in the world. I am, however, certain that my recipe is unique. I can’t fathom that the traditional French recipe of one of the oldest biscuits in culinary history would lean so heavily on cornstarch – a true American invention that was discovered in 1840. The aromas in this cookie should be subtle, not distracting from the perfect texture craquante et fondante (crackle outside and soft inside). The original and authentic French lady finger might have a more complex parfum, one could imagine : vanilla from madagascar, essence of rose, even champagne. But the complexity and the strength of these flavors could easily be overwhelming in a tea biscuit destined to be dunked into a porcelain tea cup or champagne flute.
Need-less-to-say, I’m very pleased with my impostor tea biscuits. And even more delighted that they pass so well for French. hum.
2 eggs separated
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
one drop of vanilla
one drop of red food coloring
7/8 cup (7 oz, or 3/4 C+2 tbsp, or 90 g) flour
1/3 cup (45 g) cornstarch (maïzena)
1.3 tsp (5 g) baking powder (levure chimique)
Beat the yolks and the sugar increasing the speed progressively during five or six minutes.
Add the egg whites and the vanilla and the food coloring and beat another two minutes.
Sift together the flour, cornstarch and baking powder. Use a rubber spatula to incorporate them into the fluffy batter until you have a smooth uniform batter.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat. Spoon the batter onto the liner in the form of round buttons or long narrow lady fingers. Allow the little cookies to develop a thin crust as you wait for the oven to heat up. Preheat the oven to 356°F (180°C). Powder with powdered sugar right before baking. Bake 12 minutes.
When you take them out of the oven they’ll be pliable until they cool. Use this opportunity to reshape them into the perfect form. To make perfect squares, I filled a brownie pan with a shallow layer of batter and then cut them with a knife immediately when they came out of the oven.
The biscuits roses are great to eat alone, accompany a tea, decorate a charlotte or a tiramisu.
***Nichole’s advice – Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and pour the batter in one large puddle. Don’t let the batter touch the sides, rather allow the batter to settle into it’s natural thickness, you’ll get fluffier, moister cookies than if you make buttons. Be prepared to cut this giant cookie immediately when you remove the pan from the oven. They will stiffen as they cool.
Gâteau Rose de Reims
To make this traditional Reimois dessert you crush up a batch of Biscuits Roses and add three tablespoons of rum. This will give you a pliable dough like play-dough that you are free to form into any shape you want. Refrigerate and serve.
Amandine’s Grandma loves us, and made this cake especially in our honor. I thought it would be an appropriate post for our anniversary day and the French National Holiday, all at the same time!
Going, going, gone …