My Aunt Kathy not only introduced me to the kolacky but more recently turned me onto the Italian Rainbow Cookie, a tricolor treat that Italian immigrants have been making for years as a nod to the old country. I put my own flavor twist on this traditional recipe, and the results are as tasty as they are beautiful.
8 ounces almond paste, broken into small pieces
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
3 large eggs, room temperature, separated
1½ cup (12 ounces) unsalted butter plus 2 teaspoons, softened
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon red food coloring or gel
¼ teaspoon green food coloring or gel
¼ cup apricot jam
¼ cup raspberry or cherry jam
1½ cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray three 9- by 13-inch pans with cooking spray. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper. Butter the paper with 2 teaspoons of softened butter.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, place the crumbled almond paste, ½ cup sugar, 3 egg yolks, and 4 ounces (1 stick) softened butter. Beat on medium until light and fluffy. If almond paste lumps are still present, stop the mixer and break them up with your fingers. Add the remaining 8 ounces (2 sticks) of softened butter. Mix until batter is smooth.
In a small bowl, whisk together milk, amaretto, and almond extract. Add to the almond paste mixture and mix until combined. With mixer on medium- low, add flour. Mix until just blended.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. With mixer on medium speed, add the remaining ½ cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase speed to high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are lifted. Using a rubber scraper, fold the whipped egg whites, a third at a time, into the flour mixture until batter is nice and smooth.
Divide batter equally between three bowls. Fold the red food coloring into one batter and the green food coloring into another batter. Keeping each batter separate, spread the batters evenly in the prepared pans. Each layer should be about ¼-inch thick. Bake until set; about 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer pans to cooling racks. Let cool completely.
Place green layer on a tray, paper side up. Remove the paper and spread the apricot jam evenly over the cake. Place the white layer on top of the green layer, paper side up. Remove parchment paper and spread the raspberry jam evenly over the top. Place the pink layer paper side up on top of the white layer and remove paper. Cover the cake with plastic wrap and top with another sheet pan. Weigh down the sheet pan to compress the cake layers. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Remove the weights and plastic wrap. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Spread half of the melted chocolate over the cake. Do not spread the chocolate on the sides. Put cake back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set the chocolate. When solid, flip the cake over onto a cutting board. Remove parchment paper and spread remaining chocolate evenly on top. Place back in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set chocolate.
Once set, trim the cake into a 7½- by 10½-inch rectangle. Cut the cake into 1-inch by 1½-inch rectangles. Store in the refrigerator.
Mary DiSomma, Foodie, Author, Philanthropist, Mother, Wife and so much more...
Mary DiSomma, an enthusiastic and imaginative baker of cookies, is the author and publisher of A Gift of Cookies: Recipes to Share with Family & Friends. She is also a philanthropist, podiatrist, entrepreneur, and mother of four grown children.
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