It’s hard to believe we are at the end of the first week in December! Time to start baking our family’s traditional Christmas cookies to have ready to mail out to family members on the West Coast & beyond.
If you’ve never tried these recipes before, this is the time to start. Nothing says it’s the beginning of the holiday season like baking our Italian bakery-style cookies. They are delicious! My 8-year-old grandson is visiting from NY and he said the Rainbow Cookies are “Amazing”…music to our ears!
Make sure you have plenty of all-purpose flour, butter, almond paste, chopped pistachios, pignolias (pine nuts), chopped dates, and bittersweet chocolate chips on hand because these cookies fly off the plates.
It's our favorite time of year again as we start our holiday baking together. It doesn't matter if the holiday is Thanksgiving or Christmas, we have been baking together for over 40 years, a holiday tradition we love. Christmas music is playing in the background while we reminisce about our childhood & Christmas's of long ago. One of our family's favorite holiday cookie is the Italian Rainbow cookie that you see in every Italian bakery all year round. We also make this recipe Gluten-Free by substituting Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour for the all-purpose flour! They are the first to disappear from the holiday cookie tray...you, your family & friends will love them. ❤️❤️
1 jar apricot preserves (12-16 ounces)
1 12-ounce bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12-ounce can of Solo almond paste
1 tsp almond extract
2 cup all-purpose flour, sifted (for a gluten-free substitute use Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour)
1 cup sugar
Food Coloring, red & green (if you want a more yellow layer, add yellow coloring to the 3rd bowl)
3 sticks unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs, separate yolks and whites
chocolate sprinkles (optional)
3 9×12 baking pans
Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
Grease all three baking pans heavily with butter then line each pan with parchment paper or wax paper, leaving enough overhang to lift and slide out of the pan after baking. Grease heavily again.
In a large mixing bowl, break up the almond paste, butter, sugar, almond extract, sugar, and egg yolks. Beat until light & fluffy, about 10 minutes on a medium speed stand mixer.
Beat in flour & salt.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff. With a wooden spoon, fold in egg whites to the almond mixture until you no longer see the whites.
Divide the mixture equally into 3 bowls. (To be accurate, weigh each mixture on a digital scale)
Add food coloring to each bowl, leaving the 3rd bowl plain, or add yellow coloring if you prefer a more yellow layer. Mix color in well.
Spoon each color into separate prepared baking sheets. Spread evenly then bake at 350º pre-heated oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Do not let the edges brown.
Layers are done when you can gently touch the center and it bounces back. Remove from oven and place on cake racks for 5 minutes to cool.
Holding the overhang ends of the parchment paper, carefully lift and slide the layer, supporting underneath, onto a flat surface (countertop).
Use a large cookie sheet and invert the first layer (red) onto the cookie sheet. Carefully remove parchment paper.
Heat the preserves until it bubbles. Using a fork mix well to loosen some of the chunks. Remove from heat and using a spatula, spread enough preserve to evenly cover the entire layer. Don’t worry if it drips down the sides.
Repeat for the middle layer (plain or yellow).
After inverting the last layer (green, do not spread with preserves). Cover with parchment paper and place a baking sheet on top. Weigh it down with some heavy books or cans for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator or overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator when ready to add the chocolate layer.
Trim all edges to be uniformed with a very sharp knife. (Don’t throw out the trimming…they are great to taste).
Melt chocolate in the microwave* a little at a time until melted through.
Spread melted chocolate over the top layer and down the sides. Add optional chocolate sprinkles while chocolate is still warm. Refrigerate uncovered for at least one hour then cut into 6 or 7 even rows & bite-size pieces of your choice when ready to serve.
Line an airtight container with parchment or wax paper and store layers in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Should last about 10 days if kept in the refrigerator.
Mix food coloring in separate bowls
Spread batter evenly in pan
Remove before edges brown
Add apricot preserves between first 2 layers
Cut into 6 rows
Spread melted chocolate on top and sides
Note: It has been our experience that Nestlé’s chocolate chips will seize if melted using the double boiler method. Nestlé’s appears to have changed their formula as we used to use the double boiler method up until last year. We recommend using the microwave for best results.