Saturday, December 17, 2011

Tricolor Cookie Bars

Sometimes I feel like I get into a little bit of a rut with my cookies.  I feel like maybe because I have a few really easy crowd-pleasers that I can sit back and get comfortable.

But then I see pictures of something like these little babies and it all goes out the window.  Because there's no way of making these "easy".  Although they're really not incredibly difficult to pull off, they're just a little annoying and time consuming.  I'm not saying don't make them.  I'm saying save them for special occasions.

Like Christmas!  That's right, sorry coworkers, your cookie days are over (for now).  I've moved onto baking for the relatives and friends that we're going to see on our Christmas vacation.  I thought it would be nice to kick the Christmas cookie experience off with a little something new and different.

The original recipe before modification was called "Rainbow Cookies".  Now it's not that I don't think that's an accurate or creative name, but I'm not really crazy about the word rainbow.  It makes me feel like a five year old.  So I like to call them tri-color cookies.  From what I understand, these cookies, much like the black and white cookies, are a New York thing.  Also, rumor has it they're Italian as well (like the chocolate spice cookies and the ricotta cookies), or at least found at Italian bakeries.

These are less like cookies than they are like tiny little delicious almond flavored cake bars.

Tricolor Cookie Bars
(adapted from allrecipes)

8 oz. almond paste
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
2 cups all purpose flour
10 drops red food coloring
10 drops green food coloring
1/2 cup seedless strawberry jam
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Using a fork, break up almond paste well in a large bowl.  Be sure to really break it down very well, if not there will be chunks of paste in your cookies.

Cream almond paste with butter, sugar, eggs, and almond extract.  Once mixture is smooth and fluffy, stir in flour.  Divide dough equally into 3 bowls.  Add the red food coloring to one bowl, green to another, and leave the third plain.  Stir well to mix in coloring

Line three 9x13 inch pans with parchment paper.  Spread each color of cookie dough into one of the pans.  This will be extremely difficult.  You will want to give up.  You will curse the day you ever tried to do something so elaborate.  Just power through, you can do it.  The layer will probably be very thin and you will doubt that it will bake up into a decently sized layer.  It will, don't worry.

Bake each pan at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Remove from pan and parchment paper carefully and allow to cool on wire rack.

Once layers are cool, spread 1/4 cup strawberry jam onto the plain layer.  Place green layer over it.  Spread the second half of the jam onto the green layer.  Top with the red layer.  Place all three layers together in plastic wrap and wrap securely.  Place on a cookie sheet, topped with another heavy cookie sheet, or in my case another cookie sheet with a cutting board on top of it.  Leave this in the fridge overnight to compress the layers.

The next day, in a double boiler, melt the chips with the butter.  Remove from heat and stir in the heavy whipping cream until smooth.  Spread atop the cookie bars, and allow to set in the fridge for an hour or two before slicing.  Be sure to wipe your knife off between each cut to keep your cookies that you slaved so hard over neat and pretty.  Enjoy!

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