Lady Fingers (δάχτυλα-κυριών)

Jun 9th, 2009 | By | Category: Cheese, Cypriot, Dessert, Dough, Flour, Greek, How To, Nuts, Olive Oil, Recipes, Sugar, Syrup

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You’ve been asked before and you’ll be asked again…”is there anything better tasting than fried dough”?

This delicious treat comes from the island of Cyprus. This predominantly Greek-speaking island lies in the easternmost corner of of the Mediterranean Sea (between Turkey and Lebanon) has a cuisine very similar to mainland Greece but it also possesses it’s own style.

Although it’s history can be traced to over 9000 years ago, it’s Greek influences can be traced back to 1400 BC when Greek traders settled on the island.

Cyprus is also known as the island of Aphrodite. According to Homer, Aphrodite (the goddess of love) emerged from the sea, crowned with foam. The very name Aphrodite is connected to the word ἀφρός (aphros) “foam”, as in risen from the foam.

To this day, the use of rosewater, festivals in honour of Aphrodite (Ta Aphrodisia) are all closely associated with the goddess.

When it comes to Cypriot cooking, the usual ingredients like olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley are present but the tell-tale signature of Cypriot cuisine is the recurring use of Halloumi Cheese and the abundant use of Coriander seeds and Cilantro.

Much like us Greeks, the Cypriots like to stretch out their meals…conversation, debate, eating & drinking can go into the wee hours of the night. “Kopiaste” is a word used by Cypriots to invite family & friends to sit down, a hospitable chair pulled put for you and a banquet to be served by your most hospitable host(ess).

My friend Ivy currently lives in Athens but she’s was born and raised in Cyprus and she writes and cooks for a dedicated audience. The name of her blog? KOPIASTE!

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Lady Fingers are a dessert that’s easy to make and simply delicious: again fried dough is stuffed with a mixture of ground almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Some versions (like this one) also contain “anthotyro”, a cream cheese that has a little bit of the grainyness that ricotta possesses.

There are four components to making this simple yet delicious treat:

  1. Making the dough;
  2. Preparing the filling;
  3. Frying the Lady Fingers;
  4. Making and dunking in the syrup

The prep time for Lady  Fingers took less than an hour and because these are so small, the frying is quick and the dunking in the syrup even quicker. This treat is not only delicious but there’s a textural thing going on here as well. You get the crispy crunch of biting into the Lady Finger and then you get into the soft filling that’s  remarkably delicious for being just four ingredients!

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For the Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 heaping Tbsp. of softened butter

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 tsp salt

water

For the Fillingimg_5890-1

2 Tbsp. of sugar

1 cup of blanched almonds

1 tsp. of ground cinnamon

2 Tbsp. of room temp. cream cheese

For the Syrup

2 cups of sugar

2 cups of water

2 Tbsp. of lemon juice

2-3 whole cloves

1 small cinnamon stick

oil for frying

Some eggwash to seal the pockets

  1. With your hands, mix the flour with the salt, butter, oil and press into a crumbly mixture. Add some tepid (lukewarm) water in increments until the dough becomes soft and pliable (shouldn’t be sticky). Allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, mix all the ingredients in a food processor and process to a mealy grind & reserve in a bowl. You may all prepare the syrup while you wait for the dough to rise. Add all the syrup ingredients into a pot and bring to a bowl. Reduce and then simmer for five minutes. Reserve but keep warm.
  3. Using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll out your dough ball to the thickness of a lasagna sheet (2 mm) and to the dimension of  a square (about 8X8 cm).
  4. Place 1 tsp of of filling in the bottom third of each dough square, wet the inside edges with eggwash and fold them over into the shape of an approximate “finger”.  Use your fingers to press and remove any air pockets and gently apply pressure around where the filling is to remove any air pockets.
  5. Heat your oil up to an approx. temperature of 365-375F and fry off your Lady Fingers in batches. Reserve on a platter lined with kitchen towels.
  6. Using some tongs, dunk each of your Lady Fingers in the warm syrup (your fingers wil have cooled by now) and place on your platter.
  7. Garnish with ground almonds plus a dusting of icing sugar and ground cinnamon. Leave uncovered until they have cooled. Cover with plastic wrap thereafter and never place in the fridge (will go soggy).

If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at  http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

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© 2009 – 2010, Peter Minakis. All rights reserved. If you are not reading this post in a feed reader or at http://kalofagas.ca then the site you are reading is illegally publishing copyrighted material. Contact me at truenorth67 AT gmail DOT COM. All recipes, text and photographs in this post are the original creations & property of the author.

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57 Comments to “Lady Fingers (δάχτυλα-κυριών)”

  1. Ivy says:

    Lovely write up about my country and thanks for the shout out Peter. You did justice to this very simple buy yet tasty dessert.

  2. Oh my goodness I am swooning these look so darn good. I can just imagine biting into that crunchiness and meeting up with that delicious interior.

  3. Happy Cook says:

    WOw that filling just looks so so good. ANything fried i love.
    When i saw the title i thought it was the vegetalbe Okra which we also call lady fingers.
    Well i prefer this one that the veg :-)

  4. Judy says:

    Those look so good Peter! I may tackle these over the summer. The girls would love them!

  5. Oh, wow, those look so very good! I love the almond filling!

  6. Peter G says:

    Agreed Peter! Nothing like fried dough! That filling and the spices have me drooling.

  7. r says:

    Oooohhh, drool drool! That speciality looks mouthwatering!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  8. While I do read Kopiaste sometimes, I had no idea that they used so much cilantro in Cyrus. Interesting.

    And, no, my friend, there is nothing better than fried dough.

  9. Jeff says:

    Rocking brother just rocking! I see all my favorites in one dish along with a joyous trip the deep fryer of love.

  10. Maria says:

    Those look TOO good. I bet I could eat the entire plate!

  11. Kat says:

    wow, those look just amazing

  12. kellypea says:

    I seriously could eat the entire plate full. I’ve only made one recipe from Cyprus, but it was a savory dish. I need to make these!

  13. kristin says:

    Oh my gosh, thank you for posting this recipe! I’ve been drooling since last night. :-)

    Can’t wait for an opportunity to try these!

  14. Maria says:

    I’m always so wary of frying but the results are so worth the effort (and subsequent clean-up)! These look delicious … I remember eating them with Cypriot friends and seeing them on Ivy’s blog as well. Will give them a shot some day soon.

  15. MaryAthenes says:

    I got friends in Cyprus and lived mysalf some months there… I LOVE their way of cooking and I love daktula !
    A great recipe !
    Bravo !

  16. Haley J. says:

    Well, Peter, you’ve hit upon one of the most perfect desserts combinations in the world. It’s fried, it’s filled, it’s dunked. If a plate of these came my way, it wouldn’t stand a chance. Especially if some good, hot coffee came with it. But I digress.

  17. Soma says:

    I can just imagine how this is gonna taste..We have similar things going on in my region of India.. where we call them Pitha.. filled differently but deep fried, soaked in syrup. would be prepared with lot of vigour & in bulk during special occasions .. I miss them:-)

  18. Looks great! I’m a huge fried dough fan myself – filling it with cheese and sweets can only add to the deliciousness.

  19. Joan Nova says:

    Much better ladyfingers than those spongy ones that go into making tiramisu.

  20. Katerina says:

    Looks great.
    Seriously though, I need a cup of coffee and an elliptical to even look at this recipe it has sent my sugar cravings through the roof!

  21. Núria says:

    Reserve a bunch for me chico!!! I need some sweet things right now :D

  22. Ben says:

    Peter, as always your post was very informative and I get another piece of information about Greek traditions and food. If I were from Cyprus, the word Kopiaste would be the most used in my vocabulary, LOL. I am always inviting my friends to sit down and eat :)

  23. Natashya says:

    Mmm, Greek donuts! :)
    They look great, love the filling.

  24. Federica says:

    Wow devono essere deliziosi!

  25. So hungry looking at those. We’d eat them all in one sitting.

  26. Hélène says:

    It’s hard to resist fried dough. Especially looking good like yours!

  27. I’ve never seen ladyfingers like these — so much more interesting than the spongy ladyfingers I see in Italian markets.

  28. Jan says:

    Oooh yummy yum yum – although I just know you’ve posted some to me so I shall expect them to arrive shortly lol.
    Seriously, they look delish and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t get too excited about sweet things. Great job Peter.

  29. grace says:

    yeah…fried dough is tops. the cat’s meow. etc. etc. these look particularly lovely, regardless of the fact that their name makes me think of cannibalism. :) whatever, that filling sounds crazy-good.

  30. A wonderful treat from the great Cypriot cuisine. Bravo Peter.

  31. Yes, this fried dough could do no wrong. The cream cheese in the filling sounds fantastic too.

  32. lo says:

    Fried dough… cream cheese… no arguments here.

    And, thanks to you, I’m repeating Kopiaste over and over and over again. Greek is such a beautiful language (and I stopped studying the ancients far too soon, it seems).

  33. Oh, dear… these look too amazing by far. Almost worth buying a pasta machine for, because I’d never have the patience to roll things out that thin.

  34. Lisa says:

    What a way you have with fried dough! Who knew it could be so exotic? I can almost smell the scent of citrus and spices right now.

  35. maria says:

    in crete, we also have our own version of fried dough, called xerotigana – they are the dessert always served at weddings

  36. Paula says:

    Ooooh, these are so different from the sponge cake type lady fingers I’m accustomed to. These look amazing, especially with that filling! I’d love to sit around and chat for hours while munching on these goodies! YUM!

  37. Kevin says:

    These sound so good with the crispy fried dough outside and creamy nut filling! Nice presentation with the icing sugar and chopped almonds.

  38. Lucy says:

    Nothings better than fried dough, these look simply awesome… Peter, I wish I was your neighbor & be lucky enough to present myself at your door as your were plating these up… YUM ! ;-)

  39. Heather says:

    wow! i’ve never heard of lady fingers like this. they sound delicious!

  40. Allen says:

    Wow – fried dough with a filling? Hell yeah! The ladyfingers look amazing, Peter :-)

  41. To. Die. For. These are definitely not the kind of ladyfingers that I’m used to seeing.

  42. Chez US says:

    Peter, you have given a new meaning to fried dough – I want some and I want it NOW

  43. Emily says:

    Ahhh yes. There is NOTHING better than fried dough. NOTHING. You hear me?! I need these.

  44. pam says:

    Thanks for the lesson on Cyprus. I find all the details fascinating. Almost as fascinating as these lady fingers!

  45. Foodycat says:

    The one thing better than deep fried pastry is deepfried pastry dunked in syrup.

  46. Marta says:

    hahaha “fried dough soaked in syrup”!! That’s my answer to “what’s better than fried dough?”
    These look fantastic and I guess you can see the middle eastern influence here. I cannot remember the name now, but there’s a similar treat in Lebanon, kind of a deep-friend baklava, but it calls for rose water.

  47. Heather says:

    Those don’t look like regular lady fingers….

    Those look like a bastard lovechild of beignets and baklava.

  48. There really isn’t much out there that’s better than fried dough. FC has it right. Oh yeeah, fried dough soaked in syrup and filled with nuts is also better than fried dough.

    Love the recipe, but also love the educational and history aspects. Your blog is always as informative as it is delicious.

  49. FoodJunkie says:

    I have tried these little fried pastries in Cypriot restaurants and they are really something. An yes, you can’t beat fried dough…. :-)

  50. athena says:

    omg, i want that right now! :-)

  51. OMG! Fried dough that has been stuffed with almond paste and cream cheese. I think I’m in heaven.

  52. Lovely desserts! I have not thought you can fry lady fingers!

  53. Alta says:

    I could so eat my weight in these things! They look sinful!

  54. RobinSue says:

    Oh me oh my this looks insanely delicious Peter. No there is nothing better than fried dough. Well maybe somethings…

  55. Cynthia says:

    I want some lady fingers!

  56. Nikki says:

    My parents went to Cyprus a long, long time ago, and loved it so much they named me for the capital – - – except they added one more letter to it, and pronounced it differently. I put up with a few jabs here and there from my relatives (being a S. Pacific kid with a Cypriot-influenced name has had its moments), but it has developed an intense curiosity about Greek, Turkish and Cypriot culture, with the goal to eventually make it into Cyprus – and to the city I was named for.

    So thanks for the lead into KOPIASTE! – I’m going to be making lots of visits there in the very near future. :)

  57. Jamie says:

    That is one amazing-looking dessert! Wow!

    We honeymooned on Cyprus and the food was fabulous, the people great and since then husband has dreamed of living there. This dish brought it all back!

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