When I worked at a crazy cheese shop in New York City around the holiday season, I didn’t have much energy to do anything but work, sleep, and drink. I didn’t eat much. Usually I ran across Bleecker Street to the Italian bakery for a much-needed sugar boost. Nine times out of ten I bought a rainbow cookie.
I might like the idea of the rainbow cookie more than the actual cookies. I’m attracted to those eye-catching layers of bright pink and green (said to represent the Italian flag) tasting strongly of almond flavoring, held together with apricot or raspberry jam and dipped in dark chocolate. A good rainbow cookie should be more cake than cookie; it should be moist and dense and not at all dry and crunchy.
Growing up in the Northeast, I took rainbow cookies for granted. Any decent Italian bakery in the Northeast carries them. They’re right up there in the Italian-American baked goods cannon with cannolis and pignolis. That said, I’ve rarely seen them in Texas.
When I saw this recipe in Saveur, I knew I had to make them. It doesn’t actually require much baking skill, but assembling the layers is time-consuming. My cookies turned out a little crooked. After I made them, I saw that Deb from Smitten Kitchen used a different recipe and weighed the cakes down to ensure even layers. Brilliant move! Check out her blog for some more hints.
RAINBOW COOKIES from Saveur
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pans
2 cups flour, plus more for pans
1 cup sugar
1 12.5-oz. can almond pastry filling, such as Solo brand
12 drops green food coloring
12 drops red food coloring
1 12-oz. seedless raspberry jam (I subbed homemade strawberry vanilla bean jam)
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted
1. Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour three 9″ x 13″ baking pans and line with parchment paper; set aside. Using a hand mixer on high-speed, beat butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add pastry filling; beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour; beat until just combined. Evenly divide batter into 3 bowls. Add green food coloring to one bowl, red food coloring to the second bowl, and leave the third bowl plain; stir colorings into batters. Using an offset spatula, spread each batter into a prepared baking pan. Bake each pan until just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire racks; cool.
2. Heat jam in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat; cook, stirring, until smooth; cool slightly. Place green cake on a cutting board or foil-lined baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, spread half the jam over green cake; top with plain cake. Spread remaining jam over plain cake; top with red cake. Chill cakes to set jam, 1 hour.
3. Using a slicing knife, trim cake edges to form an even block. Slice block crosswise into 1 ½″-wide logs; separate on a cutting board. Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate over top, sides, and ends of each log until completely covered; chill to set chocolate. Slice each log crosswise into ½″-thick squares to serve.