I am a visual person; I remember directions by sight, things I read and math problems solved on the chalkboard. I'm often flooded with memories by the simple sight or mention of an ingredient, food, or other tangible item. When my friend Jen asked if there was a bakery in Jacksonville that made her beloved Seven-Layer Cookies, I did a google search to see what she was talking about. One glance at the cakey, striped cookies encased in chocolate and I was standing in my Nanny and Grandpa's kitchen, eying up the assorted cookie platter Grandpa brought home from the bakery. I can still remember picking out a cookie, placing it on a paper towel and sitting at the kitchen table, always covered in a plastic, seasonal table cloth, and eating it with a juice box to drink.
I found Grandpa's recipe from the bakery in his stack of note cards, but as all of the recipes are, it was measured in 20 lbs. of butter, 30 lbs. of flour, and 25 lbs. or sugar, enough for thousands of cookies. Luckily, I had remembered seeing the cookies on Joanne's blog back in December, so I pulled up the recipe, originally from Gourmet. These cookies aren't something you can make on a whim, they take some planning and time, but it's well worth it. I had great luck with the chilled cookies slicing well, I just didn't really measure them out, I like the random shapes and sizes! One change I did make was substituting the apricot jam layer between the red and white cookies with raspberry (seedless) per Jen's request.
Seven-Layer Cookies (Italian Rainbow/Flag Cookies)
4 large eggs, separated
1 c. sugar
1 8-oz. can almond paste
2 1/2 sticks butter, softened
1 tsp. almond extract
2 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1/2 c. apricot preserves
1/2 c. seedless raspberry preserves
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate
Place a rack in the center of the oven, preheat to 350*
Butter a 9" baking pan, line the bottom with parchment leaving overhang on the sides, butter paper.
Beat egg whites in a mixer with the whisk attachment on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
Add 1/4 c. of sugar, a little at a time, transfer to another bowl.
Switch to the paddle attachment, add butter, almond paste and remaining 3/4 c. sugar, beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add yolks and almond extract, beat until combined.
Reduce speed to low, add flour and salt, mix until just combined.
Fold half of the egg white mixture in gently but thoroughly, then the rest.
Divide batter into 3 bowls, dye one red and one green, leave one white.
Set red and white aside, place green in the refrigerator.
Pour red into the prepared pan, spread out in an even layer with an offset spatula.
Bake for 10 minutes, until set, it will look undercooked.
Transfer to a wire cooling rack, reline pan with parchment, butter and add white batter.
Remove green batter from the refrigerator.
Spread white batter in an even layer, and bake for 8-10 minutes, until set.
Transfer on parchment to a wire cooling rack.
Repeat with green batter (do not stack layers on parchment/racks, use 3 separate racks).
Warm the raspberry preserves so it's spreadable, then spread over red layer in a thin, even layer.
Peel parchment from white layer, and stack on top of red layer/jam.
Warm apricot preserves and spread over white layer, removing any large pieces.
Peel parchment off green layer, and press on top.
Wrap the three filled layers tightly in saran wrap, and refrigerate overnight with a weighted sheet pan on top.
The next day, heat chocolate over a double boiler until melted.
Peel back saran wrap from one side, spread evenly which chocolate in a thin layer, place back in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
When chocolate is chilled and set, gently flip cookies and spread chocolate on the opposite side in an even layer.
Place back in the refrigerator until set, about 10 minutes.
With a serrated knife, cut cookies into 1" cubes, and place on a serving platter (or keep cookies refrigerated until ready to cut and serve, cookies cut best when chilled).
Yield around 64 cookies, depending on size.