I’m gearing up to make a Charlotte for an event–a White Chocolate and Lime Mousse Charlotte to be exact. I’ve made Charlottes before, and I have to say that the most frustrating thing about making them is trying to find flipping ladyfingers in this benighted city. I’m sure they are out there, but I always seem to have to drive all over to find them, and then they always disappoint me. Yesterday I called World Market, which is the closest non-HEB near my house, and they assured me they had them. After I drove over there, I found that what they (and the package) were calling ladyfingers were hard cookies in the shape of ladyfingers. I was after the soft ones that you can brush with a simple syrup and actually have them absorb it. (While I was at World Market, though, I did find these adorable springlike cupcake liners to use at some future date, so the trip wasn’t a total wash.)
Anyway, after I got home, frustrated with the ladyfinger-lessness of my life, I wondered–how hard can it be to make your own? So I got a-Googling, and turns out, it’s not all that difficult. In fact, it’s dead easy. And ten times better than driving all over town.
1/2 cup cake flour
3 eggs, separated
5 Tablespoons sugar, divided
a pinch of cream of tartar
Beat the egg yolks with 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar until “ribbon stage” has been reached–about 6-7 minutes with a stand mixer. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar and the remaining 3 Tablespoons sugar until fluffy and the meringue holds its shape when the bowl is turned upside down. Put the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture, sift the cake flour over the top, and fold together very lightly, just until the flour disappears into the mixture.
Pipe ladyfingers from a pastry bag onto a parchment lined baking sheet. If desired, you can make marks on the paper to keep the size of the ladyfingers consistent. Space them close together but not touching.
Bake the ladyfingers at 350 for about 8 minutes.