Let me pose a question to you, readers: Are rainbow-colored foodstuffs that don’t subscribe a different flavor to each color inherently kind of evil? Is food coloring for the sake of food coloring wrong?
I myself am not sure where I stand on this issue. There was a time when I’d say it was completely unnecessary to color something just for rainbows’ sake. Fruit juices, for example, I feel strongly about. I don’t need red dye in my pomegranate juice to make it look more red. I don’t care what color it is. Same for things like m&ms and sprinkles (although I can’t deny saving specific m&m colors for last. what? I just don’t like to end on a brown one).
So here we are at rainbow cookies. I’ve loved them long time, ever since high school when I used to buy a few with my sandwich most days at the Firehouse Deli. So, when I came upon the opportunity to make them myself, I knew I had to. And here I was, presented with the choice of whether or not to add the unessential food coloring or not. And I didn’t even hesitate. I dropped those little chemicals in there like they were hot.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m confused about what I believe in. These just seemed wrong to make without the bright pink and green layers. Otherwise it’s just brown and brown and more brown. Like those damn brown m&ms. No, I couldn’t have that.
Although I’m sure most of you are concerned about my views on a variety of issues, from the proper way to eat and apple to the evils of food coloring, I’ll get back to what should be the main focus of this post: delicious, delicious rainbow cookies. I don’t care for Italian desserts AT ALL (apologies to cannoli enthusiasts everywhere) but I can never get enough rainbow cookies. They’re not even cookies, they’re the most delicious moist almondy cakes sandwiched with apricot jam and bathed in semi-sweet chocolate. They’re heavenly.
When making rainbow cookies, don’t do as I did. I have this small (large) patience issue. It especially shows with multi-stepped recipes. Bread, for example: when they say let it rise for 45 minutes, I let it rise for 40. When they say let it cool to room temp before cutting, I am sawing into it like 5 minutes after it has left the warm confines of the oven. For this particular recipe I let the cakes cool 6 hours (instead of 8), then let the chocolate cool 5 minutes (instead of 10) for the top and 10 minutes (instead of 30) for the bottom. I just couldn’t finish them fast enough.
Can you blame me?
The only thing I will say is that next time I will be sure to make double the the recipe. These were gone in a matter of hours. Kind of depressing when you spend like 8 hours on them. If only I had a cookie cloner or something. How about it, science?
from Gourmet, December 2005 via Smitten Kitchen (major thanks to Deb for making me realize I NEEDED to make these. Also check out her tips, I followed them and they were helpful as always)
Makes about 5 dozen cookies
Time: These take at least 11 hours from beginning to end, most of it inactive, but make sure you have a good 2 to 3 hour window to bake in
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) can almond paste
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
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
Special equipment: a small offset spatula, a heavy-duty stand mixer if you have one; a hand-mixer should work as well
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. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean.)
Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with parchment or 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 parchment or 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 or parchment 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. (Alternately, you can do what I did: melt the chocolate 3.5 ounces at a time just to make sure it doesn’t seize up between steps, though that shouldn’t be a problem if you only let it set for 15.)
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 (I think I cute mine into like…7 strips). Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies.