Monday, June 27, 2011

Red, White, and Blue Rainbow Cookies


I made it clear in my “About Me” page that I love rainbow cookies.  I really, really do.  They’re small, and bite sized, and come in such adorable colors that it’s hard not to love them.  Unless you don’t really like almonds.  Then I guess I can see where the problem would lie.  I do not have this problem though, thank goodness.

I had always wanted to make rainbow cookies, and I had never realized how simple they were to make.  Incredibly delayed, yet very simple to make.  By delayed, I just mean that they have to spend a long time in the refrigerator so that the layers compress, but that’s not really a big deal.  Cooking time-wise and assembly-wise…they’re pretty simple.



Since the batter itself is white originally, rainbow cookies have the option of being able to be dyed in any color you desire, so they’re perfect for holidays or special occasions, since they can be dyed to any specific color.  I chose to make mine red, white, and blue since the fourth of July is coming up, and they looked adorable!  Depending on how big you cut them, this recipe can make A LOT of cookies, so they’re perfect to bring to a barbecue or any other gathering! 

Words of advice- make sure to freeze the cookies before attempting to cut them.  The first time I ever made rainbow cookies, I didn’t freeze the cake, and I had the most ridiculous time trying to cut the cookies.  I wasn’t sure whether to use a straight-edge knife or a serrated one, because I needed to make sure that I cut the cookies without cracking the chocolate layer on top, and to make a long story short, it was just a nightmare.  Freezing the cookies made the cutting process so much simpler.  Don’t skip this step.


Red, White, and Blue Rainbow Cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

·        4 large eggs, separated
·        1 cup granulated sugar
·        8 oz almond paste
·        1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
·        1 teaspoon almond extract
·        2 cups all-purpose flour
·        ½ teaspoon salt
·        red food coloring
·        blue food coloring
·        12 oz raspberry preserves
·        7 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (chips work too)

Directions:

Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F.  Using non-stick spray, grease a quarter sheet pan (about 9x13 inches) and line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving a two-inch overhang, then grease the paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer that has been fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks.  Add ¼ cup of sugar to the egg whites until stiff, glossy peaks form.  Transfer the whites to a separate bowl.

Switch to the paddle attachment of your electric mixer.  Beat together the almond paste and remaining ¾ cups of sugar until well mixed.  Add the butter, and mix until pale and fluffy.  Add the yolks and almond extract, mixing until well combined.  Reduce the mixer speed, and add the flour and salt, mixing only until all the ingredients are just combined.

Gently fold half of the egg white mixture into the almond paste mixture to lighten, and then fold in the remaining whites.

Divide the batter evenly among three bowls (I used a kitchen scale to be precise).  Add red food coloring to one bowl, blue food coloring to another, and leave one bowl uncolored.  Mix the food coloring into the batter until the desired color is achieved.  Pour the red batter into the prepared pan and with the aid of an offset spatula, spread evenly in the pan.  Bake the red layer for about 9 minutes, or until it is just set.

Using the paper overhang, transfer the layer to a wire rack to cool.  In the meantime, clean the sheet pan, and grease and line with parchment paper in the same manner as before.  Bake the white layer in the pan until it is just set, about 9 minutes. Repeat this process for the blue layer.

When all three layers have cooled, invert the blue layer onto a wax-paper-lined baking sheet or other flat surface (I had blue plastic lunch trays on hand).  Discard the wax paper from the layer, and spread half of the raspberry preserves on top of the layer.  Invert the white layer on top of the blue layer, and discard the wax paper.  Spread with the remaining preserves, and invert the red layer on top of the white layer, discarding the wax paper.

Cover the layers with plastic wrap, and evenly compress the layers using weights.  I chose to place another plastic tray on top of the layers, followed by a glass 9x13 inch baking dish, as this would ensure an even application of pressure.  Chill the layers in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, although overnight is best.


Remove from the refrigerator, and remove the weights and plastic wrap.  Bring the layers to room temperature.  In a double boiler, or using a microwave, melt the chocolate until smooth.  Remove from the heat.  Trim the edges of the layers with a long serrated knife to make them appear neater.  Once the layers are at room temperature, use an offset spatula to quickly spread half of the chocolate in a thin layer over the top of the cake.  Chill, uncovered, in the fridge for about 15 minutes, or just until the chocolate has set.  Invert the cake onto a wax-paper-lined baking sheet, and spread the remaining melted chocolate evenly over the layer (at this point, add sprinkles if desired). 

Place cake into the freezer, in order to facilitate cutting the cake into squares  (freezing the assembled layers is the best way to cut them, otherwise, it will be extremely difficult and frustrating…trust me, I learned the hard way).  Use a paring knife that has been run under warm water and wiped dry to score the cake into long bars (I chose to cut the cake into 6 long, even bars).  With a serrated knife that has been run under hot water and wiped dry, cut the cake along the scored lines, resulting in 6 very long rainbow cookies.  Using the same paring knife as before, cut the bars of cake crosswise, forming small cookies.

This makes a lot of cookies.

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