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Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Family Affair: Recipe

My son has a school-wide event coming up celebrating the concept of  "Multi-Cultural" connections. Since my kids have both Eastern-European (Jewish) heritage and Italian heritage, I thought I'd send in a representative sampling from each side. From his Jewish roots, I'll be sending in mandelbreit from my Aunt Miriam's recipe (think Jewish "biscotti").  They're amazing with chocolate chips, a hint of almond, and dusted with cinnamon-sugar.  My son loves them so that was an easy decision to make.

Next, I needed to make something representing the Italian side and thought canoli might be too hard to send given the need to keep them cold. Then I thought of these cookies because I knew I could make them now and freeze them - easing the burden the night before they're due.  So off I went to find my mother's receipe for Rainbow Cookies from among my things.  I sent my husband off to fetch 8 oz of almond paste (he had to buy two 7 oz. packages since they only came that way and he knew I needed 8 oz - cost @ $12). Then I went out and purchased three 9x13 brownie pans since I didn't seem to have even one - I used a coupon and a gift card but it still cost me another $20. By this time, my husband informed me that the ones in the grocery store bakery sold for $3.99/lb and looked pretty damn good.  Ah well, I couldn't possibly purchase them if I could make them!

I asked my mom to drop over to help me since I had a feeling it would be a labor intensive project and my seven-year old daughter begged to help.  So together, we accomplished the task of making three separate layers of batter (even had to untangle the critical missing information in the recipe!)

My mother left once the layers were in the oven and my husband fell asleep shortly thereafter leaving me to a quiet kitchen where I assembled the layers. This morning I melted the chocolate and completed the recipe and finally when I cut them my husband (the Italian side of the family) gave me a very perplexed look...clearly I did not know my Italian flag (or that the cookies were supposed to mirror the flag) because the layers were in the wrong order! Ah well, still they looked good and tasted awesome! Funny, because I never liked these cookies - all this time I thought they were "icky" (an obvious hold-over from childhood) but when I had one this morning, I was hooked - they're delicious!

C'est la vie! (woops, there I go again!)

Neapolitan Cookies
makes 4 dozen

8 oz. almond paste, crumbled
4 eggs, seperated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 Tbsp. red and green food coloring
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 cup seedless red raspberry jelly
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

special equipment: parchment paper and three 9x13 brownie pans

Preheat oven to 350. Butter each pan and line with parchment paper - so that there is some paper hanging over the sides (will use this to lift the paper out of the pan when they're finished baking). Next butter the parchment paper lined pan.

In a large electric mixing bowl beat together the almond paste, butter and sugar until pale - about 5 minutes (be sure to stop and scrape down the sides occasionally). Next add in the egg yolks one at a time and beat until each one is well mixed - do not over beat. Next add in the flour and mix until evenly distributed.

In a seperate bowl, using clean and dry beaters (for a hand mixer) or whip attachment, whip the whites until stiff peaks form - about 4 minutes. Gently fold the whites into the other bowl.

Seperate the batter equally into three bowls and add red coloring to one bowl and green to the other - mix each well. Spoon the red batter into one pan, the plain batter into another pan and the green batter into the remaining pan. Bake all three about 14 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and tops are springy.

Cool all three layers on cooling rack about 5 minutes then lift the layers - using the parchment paper - out of the pans and onto the cooling rack. Slowly slide a large spatula under each layer and glide them off the paper and onto the racks. Cool about 20 minutes.

Using a large cookie sheet as the staging area, slide the green layer onto the sheet and spread the apricot preserves across the entire top - all the way to the outer edges. Next slide the yellow layer on top of the green one and spread the raspberry jelly on top of that one - again, all the way to the edges - and top with the red layer. Cover with plastic wrap and place a very large and very heavy book on top of the entire creation - leave overnight.

In the morning, melt the chocolate (I used the microwave and set it for 15 second intervals and mixed the chocolate after each time), remove the book and the plastic wrap and spread on the top of the red layer. Refrigerate - uncovered - for about 1/2 hour and then slice into about 48 pieces.

These can be made ahead of time and frozen - wrap well before freezing - and thaw at room temperature about an hour before eating.

1 comment:

Anna and Liz Recipes said...

Hey M..these look amazingly DELISH!
love the rainbow cookies, thanks for a great recipe! Looking forward to our luncheon this month!