The Gorgeous Rainbow Cookie
In a season full of cookies — overloaded with cookies, even (though I might debate whether “overloaded” is a bad thing, especially where chocolate is concerned), I’d like you to meet the show-stopper cookie. The glam cookie. The gorgeous cookie. And you know what else? The positively delicious cookie.
Once a staple of Italian bakeries, this gem is a delicate confection of cakey almond goodness, apricot preserves and bittersweet chocolate — seven layers of cookie nirvana. Lucky is the person who can still walk around the corner and buy them on demand!
But let’s talk about you. Imagine a serving tray on your holiday dessert table artfully stacked with these sweet treats. Go ahead. Look at the picture again, and then close your eyes. Dozens of these cookies, piled high. Colorful. Playful. Teasing. And they tumble a little. And one falls off to the table below. Oh dear. But you’re in luck. SoupAddict believes in the 5-second rule. Go ahead and have that one. Just that one. Yes, that one, with all the almond and chocolate.
[snap! snap! hello?!] Ready to make these Gourmet magazine delights yet? SoupAddict thought so. Let’s get started.
Rainbow Cookies (a.k.a. Seven-Layer Cookies, a.k.a. Tri-Color Cookies)
|Gourmet, December 2005|
|1||(8-oz) can||almond paste|
|2 1/2||sticks||(1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened|
|25||drops||red food coloring|
|25||drops||green food coloring|
|1||(12 oz) jar||apricot preserves, heated and strained|
|7||oz||fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped|
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.
Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.
Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.
Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside. Chill green batter, covered. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).
Bake red layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook.)
Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.
When all layers are cool, invert green onto a wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax paper.
Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours.
Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water.
Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Cut lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies.
Cooks’ note: Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, in an airtight container at room temperature 2 weeks.
- Don’t use wax paper – use parchment paper. It’s readily available and brilliant.
- The batter, as mentioned, is stiff. Spreading the batter in the pan will cause the parchment to slide all around in a most annoying manner. Buttering it isn’t going to help much. I take a dab of the dough and use two blobs to anchor each end of the parchment paper into the pan. You’ll have to wash the pan, but it works great.
- I don’t usually bother to refrigerate each separate layer before assembly. It does help set the layer, but it’s not required, and will cut down overall time considerably. Do refrigerate once you assemble the three layers with the apricot glue, though. It will ensure the layers stick together as they should.
- If you don’t want to bake the layers one at a time, don’t. I prepare all three layers in their own pans (I even use cheapie foil pans) at the same time, then bake the red and white layers together. While the red and white layers cool a bit, I bake the green layer. While the green layer cools, I spread the apricot glue on the red layer and lay over the white. And finally, one last layer of apricot goodness, and plop the green layer on top.