These tricolor cookies are a Halloween-y twist on the typically pink and green Italian favorite. If you’ve never had one, they are kind of a cross between cookies and cake, with a prominent almond flavor. This version has a hint of orange that trails behind. Having made these for the first time I have some advice to pass on. Live and learn, right? I don’t have 3 square baking pans of the same size. I do however have 3 round cake pans (that look like they somehow survived a war, or an atomic explosion), so I used those. I also used a round biscuit cutter to cut out circular shapes. Mine were a bit homely compared to the pristine ones in Baked, but they were tasty! I encountered two problems. One, when using the cutter the edges of the chocolate get a bit messed up and don’t look as good. If you use a cutter, make sure it’s tall enough to get through all three layers and still have room for your fingers to pull it out. A culinary ring mold might work better. Two, you are left with a bunch of unused and wasted cookie. Next time I plan on using square pans (I guess I should replace those round ones anyway) and I will cut squares with a long knife so as not to waste any delicious crumbs. These cookies require a lot of steps, but the results are gratifying. I think I will make these once a year at Christmas with the traditional colors.
makes: approximately 20 cookies
For the cookie layers:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
7 ounces almond paste (recipe follows)
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
grated zest of 1 orange
orange food coloring (liquid or gel-I used Wilton gel icing in Orange)
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
For the filling:
2/3 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons amaretto liqueur
For the glaze:
6 ounces dark chocolate (60 % cacao), coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
Make the cookie layers
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter three 8-inch square pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the parchment. Dust with flour and knock out the excess.
Sift the flour and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the almond paste, sugar, and almond extract together until small crumbs form. Add the butter and beat on high speed until the mixture is combined. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the orange zest and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture in three parts, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.
Divide the batter evenly among three small mixing bowls.
In the first bowl, add a few drops of orange food coloring to the batter, and mix well. Add more coloring if necessary, until the mixture is medium orange in color.
In the second bowl, add the cocoa powder to the batter and whisk until fully incorporated.
Leave the third bowl plain.
Pour each batter into a prepared pan and smooth the tops. Bake the layers for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Bake the layers for 12 to 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 20 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the rack, remove the pans, and let cool completely. Remove the parchment.
Make the filling
In a small saucepan over low heat, stir the jam and amaretto until warmed through and completely blended, 3 to 5 minutes.
Place the chocolate layer on a large cutting board or portable tray and evenly spread half of the apricot jam over the top. Top with the plain layer and spread with the remaining apricot filling. Top with the orange layer and let the layers sit in the refrigerator while you make the chocolate glaze.
Make the glaze
In a large glass or nonreactive metal bowl, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is completely smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and stir for 30 seconds to cool slightly.
Remove the cookies (well cookie at this point) and spread the chocolate glaze over the top, completely covering the orange layer. Some glaze may spill down the sides, that’s ok.
Place the tray in the refrigerator until the chocolate topping completely sets (about 1 hour). Remove the tray from the refrigerator, wait 30 minutes for the chocolate to warm up, and cut into 20 individual squares using a long, sharp knife or use a small cookie or biscuit cutter to create your own shapes. (As I mentioned earlier, I don’t necessarily recommend the latter.)
The bars can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 4 days.
How to make almond paste
1 ½ cups finely ground almonds
1 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
Put all the ingredients in a food processor with 2 tablespoons water and process until a paste forms. Remove from the processor, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until ready to use. Extra almond paste (you will have extra when making the tricolor cookie recipe) tightly wrapped, keeps well in the freezer. Try almond paste in sugar cookies, almond cookies, macaroons, coffee cake and almond tart.