December 16, 2015

The Most Festive Cookie

After taking a field trip out to Northwest Houston to sample Italian Rainbow Cookies last week, I embarked on making these beautiful and festive treats.
They are a bit time consuming: after separating eggs, making my first ever stiff peaks with the egg whites!, cutting up parchment paper, straining raspberry preserves, dividing batter, using my muscles to mix in food coloring into very thick batter, baking each layer, waiting for cooling times, dividing/weighing the fruit preserves and finally dividing/weighing the chocolate, I can say it was well worth the effort!
Patience and a thorough read-through of the recipe before baking is key. And I think I can say that they tasted even better than the one I sampled at the Italian bakery. No joke.

So if you love almondy, fruity, chocolatey desserts and have time to embark on this baking journey, dive head first into baking these colorful, delicious treats!
Baking Tips:
  • Every recipe online for these cookies say to bake on greased wax paper. I tried using it for the first two layers, which resulted in a smoke-filled oven and the cake sticking to the paper a little bit. For the third layer I used un-greased parchment paper and the results were wonderful. Stick with parchment paper
  • Before baking, cut sheets of parchment paper to fit a 9x13 pan with overhang. 
  • Straining raspberry preserves is quite an arduous task but well worth it since you don't want to be crunching on raspberry seeds rather than enjoying a pillowy, cakey cookie. 
  • You can go the traditional route and put chocolate layers on both the top and bottom of the cookie but to save hands from getting too messy upon eating, I would only put chocolate on the top layer of the cookie. 
  • I eyeballed dividing the batter into three equal proportions by scooping with my 1/4 cup measuring cup and dividing evenly amongst my three bowls. But I didn't tally them down, sorry! 
  • When pouring the batter into the prepared pan, it'll take some extra muscle to smooth out the batter across the pan since it is quite a goopey batter. Be patient since it'll take a lot of extra time (and some muscles) to spread it evenly across the paper in the pan. 
  • You'll need at least 2 baking sheets and enough room in your refrigerator and freezer to house these baking sheets stacked on top of each other. 
Italian Rainbow Cookies adapted from smitten kitchen and food 52
Ingredients:
4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 8oz can almond paste
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 10oz jar raspberry preserves, heated and strained and divided into 2 bowls, 5 oz each
3.5 oz dark chocolate chips or melting wafers
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9x13 pan with parchment paper, leaving a 2 inch overhang.
2. Place egg whites in bowl of stand mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks form. Then on high speed, add in a 1/4 cup of sugar until glossy, stiff peaks hold. Transfer egg whites to another bowl.
3. Replace whisk attachment with the paddle attachment on the stand mixer and add in almond paste to bowl. Beat almond paste with the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar until well combined. Then add in butter until it becomes pale and fluffy. Add in the egg yolks and almond extract until well combined. On low speed, add in the flour and salt until just mixed together.
4. Fold in half of the egg whites gently into the flour mixture then fold in remaining egg whites.
5. Divide batter into 3 bowls. Color one bowl with red food coloring, leave one bowl plain and color the remaining bowl with green food coloring.
6. Pour batter from one of the bowls onto parchment-lined pan. Spread batter with an offset spatula evenly over pan. Bake the layer for 8-10 minutes. Repeat with remaining two bowls of batter.
7. Let each layer cool on a drying rack. Meanwhile, heat up raspberry preserves over low heat in a saucepan. Then strain preserves into a bowl.
8. Once the layers have cooled, line a large baking sheet with a clean sheet of parchment paper. Invert the green layer onto the parchment paper and remove old parchment paper from green layer. Using an offset spatula, spread half the preserves into a thin layer onto green layer.
9. Then invert the white layer onto the green layer. Remove paper on top the white layer and then evenly spread a thin layer of the remaining preserves onto the white layer. Then invert the red layer on top. Cover with plastic wrap and place another baking sheet on top of the plastic wrap. Weigh down the top baking sheet with a heavy cookbook(s) to evenly distribute the weight across the entire sheet pan. Chill in refrigerator for at least 8 hours or overnight.
10. Once chilled, take layers out of refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Then melt chocolate over a double boiler. Spread the melted chocolate over the red layer evenly. Then place in freezer until firm.
11. Using a long serrated knife that has been heated under warm water, slice cookies into small, square pieces. The cookies are cut better if they are frozen.
12. Enjoy!

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