I'm taking a break from the Science of Good Cooking challenge (although I do have a roast sitting in my kitchen right now ready for the oven) to post some adorable cookies I made for a Christmas cookie exchange at work today.
I was looking for something new, and a challenge, when I stumbled upon Valerie Bertinelli's Neapolitan Cookies on the Food Network site. Then my friend pointed out that my favorite food blog, Smitten Kitchen, also has a version called "seven-layer cookies." And other people call them rainbow cookies.
Whatever you call them, they are cute, complicated, and oddly tasty.
In the first step, you make an almond pasty cake batter, divide into three, and color before you bake - green, plain, and pink.
This part sounds easy, but honestly I was really annoyed with how difficult it was to mix the almond paste and sugar. It flew all over my kitchen. I had to include the butter early just so it would actually make a mass of dough. I was cussing a lot, I'll tell you.
After the cakes are cool, you spread strained apricot jam between the layers and chill for a few hours, pressing the cake layers between two pans so that they really stick together. After many hours, you spread chocolate on both sides of the cake and then freeze for easy cutting.
I was terrified at this point in the process - what if it didn't cut cleanly? But mostly they did, even though my layers weren't all the same size. All you do is cut off the edges and voila, beautiful little cakey-cookie squares!
They are delightfully almondy and dense, but the chocolate and apricot provides a light sweetness. But they are definitely impressive looking, and I hope they will be a hit at the party today.
Happy baking this holiday season!