Italian Rainbow Cookies

Wonder of wonders, after an entire summer of sitting in an office, I actually got a chance to wear a bathing suit and jump in a pool. Bliss. A friend very obligingly hosted a barbecue and pool party. To show my gratitude, and because I had it programmed into me that you never go anywhere empty handed (yeah, nice enough sentiment, but you try explaining to a very skeptical woman why her 12 year old daughter’s friend showed up to her house with a bottle of wine for her…”My parents made me! It’s for you and your husband” isn’t that believable) I attended bearing many, many snacks. A jar of home made ricotta and bacon jam to start, to spread on bread and snack on while waiting for burgers to grill. The jam and cheese disappeared pretty quickly, and a few marriage proposals might have been tossed my way. Bacon jam is just that good.

I’d been craving cake and desserts all week, so I also brought a chocolate cake, and a tray of Italian rainbow cookies, also known as seven-layer cookies (I can justify making all the baked goods I want as long as I share). You don’t really find these outside little Italian or sometimes Jewish delis on the east coast. My grandmother used to buy them for us from time to time when we were kids. I’d never thought about making them until I saw a recipe on smittenkitchen pop up while I was searching for a recipe to use up almonds.

If I had known what a pain it would be, I probably wouldn’t have bothered, but they were delicious and probably worth the effort in the end.

Made almond paste. Very important to note that you should grind the almond and sugar first, and then add egg white. Otherwise, blender gets all gummed up and refuses to blend. Had to start over. Equal parts about one cup of blanched almonds to powdered sugar, then one egg white
Smitten Kitchen’s recipe is here. http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2008/12/seven-layer-cookies/ I’m too lazy to write the thing up after making the damn cookies. They are exhausting. But sort of worth it.

Notes: It took a lot more food coloring than I thought it would to get more than a pastel of either–and at 2 dollars a bottle, food coloring is kind of expensive. Plus, it got everywhere. Shirt, hands, face, table, all stained.

Try really hard to spread the dough into thin, even batter. Mine weren’t pretty, very uneven, and went from thing edged to thick in the middle, which makes cutting thema t the end difficult.

Melted chocolate: When will I learn? I hate working with chocolate.
Smitten Kitchen says: Spread it thinly and evenly over the top of the cookie. Freeze for 15-30 minutes, flip, paint the chocolate on the other side, and then she recommended freezing and then cutting because it was less messy. Well,I dont know how messy it would have been without that, because as much as I tried, the chocolate woud melt, crack, fall off. I tried to press the pieces back on.

They didn’t come out very professionally looking and were messy and a lot of effort, but every last crumb was eaten at the pool party and they were much admired, so I think they were worth it. They apparently keep at least a week in an airtight container in the fridge, and in the freezer for much longer, although I didn’t have any extra to test that.

Mine came out so messy that I didn’t even bother to take a picture.

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