Tag Archives: Holidays

FROM OUR FRIENDS – Rainbow Cookies

Rainbow Cookies

This festive “cookie” is really a cake. Like many classic petit fours, Neapolitans are thin layers of rich butter cake sandwiched with jam. Almond paste in the batter keeps the cake moist for a week or more at room temperature, a month or more when frozen.

Don’t be daunted by what appears to be a complicated cake. Now that smaller baking sheets (9 x 13 inches) are available, it’s easy to make uniform shaped layers. Divide the work into two stages. Make the cakes and layer them on one day. Ice and cut them another. A rich chocolate coating is traditional in bakeries where these Rainbow Cookies are sold. Chocolate fudge icing would also work well.

Traditional during the end of year holidays, we like to serve these at special occasions year round.

Here’s our Rainbow Cookie recipe.

Just for Mom – Orange Coconut Almond Cake

Orange Coconut Almond Cake

A few years back we were looking for something special for Mother’s Day. We turned to Dede Wilson’s luscious book, Wedding Cakes You Can Make, a step-by-step guide for the bride and baker-to-be. She adds almond paste to her basic yellow cake recipe for one special creation. 

This gave us the idea for our Mother’s Day cake. Here we made a light almond butter cake filled and frosted with a simple orange buttercream. Large flake coconut pressed into the sides of the frosted cake give it a festive look although any type of unsweetened coconut can be used. Decorate the top with fresh mint, pansies or other edible flowers if you like. 

For a recipe everyone including Mom will love, read on.

Saint Patrick’s Day Cookie? Why not?

With Saint Patrick’s Day on the horizon, we got to thinking about all things green.  Pistachio Paste came to mind and our favorite Pistachio Harlequin Cookies.  (These are made with the same dough used to make the Pistachio Schoolboy Cookies.)  If piping cookies seems like too much fuss, here’s a closer look at how we made them.  First, here is the dough after mixing.  It is firm but softy enough to pipe.

We use a cookie press because it can be easier to handle than a pastry bag fitted with the star tip.

The dough has just the right consistency to retain its shape after baking.  You can still see the crisp impressions and a little browning on the ridges of the dough.

Once you dip the end of each cookie in the melted chocolate and butter mixture, place them on a silicone mat if you have one.  Or use parchment paper.  Let them sit at room temperature and they will set up and pop easily from the mat.

Here’s the finished result.  If you prefer a cookie with a richer green color, add a few drops of food coloring to the batter.

(Here is some useful information on how to stir the oil back into pistachio paste when you open the can.)

FROM THE RECIPE FILE – Mini Almond Pound Cakes

Egg-Shaped Almond Cakes for Easter

 Our favorite almond tea cake batter can be baked in a variety of pans. For Easter, we suggest baking it in small egg-shaped pans, although any mini muffin tin works perfectly as well.   The secret is to grease the pans heavily to help the cakes release easily.   You do not need to invest in multiple sets of pans.  Just bake the batter in a few successive batches.  When unmolded, these pullet-sized cakes are a lovely golden brown.  A dusting of powdered sugar or a coating with a light lemon glaze would be delicious but we like chocolate best of all.

For the recipe, click here.

Mardi Gras – Let the Good Times Roll

King Arthur Flour's King Cake Mix


King Cake 

New Orleans is gearing up for Mardi Gras, Feb 16, 2010. Our friends at King Arthur Flour have come up with a nifty kit for making King Cake, the signature sweet of Fat Tuesday.  If you’ve a hankering to try your hand at making this brioche-like ring full of sweet almond filling, visit their web site. 

 Click here for the King Arthur Flour King Cake Mix.

COOKIE EXCHANGE – Chocolate Blackout Crumb Bars

Need something different for this year’s cookie exchange?  Who doesn’t love a buttery shortbread filled with dense chocolate?  Our Chocolate Schmear Filling was created to mimic the filling in the famed Ebbingers Black Out Cake, a favorite of Brooklyn natives.  The bakery is long gone but the filling isn’t.

Chocolate Crumble Bars

These Chocolate Blackout Crumb Bars retain a rich, deep chocolate flavor over a rich buttery crust. (Last time we offered them to 8 friends, the entire batch was eaten in one sitting.)

A fan of sweet and savory took this recipe and finished it with a light sprinkling of fleur de sel, flaked salt.   You can also dress it up with some raspberry jam or chopped nuts. Or try this recipe with our Almond or Cinnamon Schmear filling. Just be certain to make enough to leave for Santa.

FROM A FRIEND – Almond-Chocolate Spritz Cookies with Orange Blossom Water

This delicious recipe, a twist on the holiday cookie favorite, was recommended to us by Cindy Mushet, its creator.  Cindy is an expert baker, cooking teacher and author of The Art and Soul of Baking.  (Her book won a 2009 International Association of Culinary Professional Award.) She graciously offered us the use of some of her recipes.

 A few tips on making these delicious cookies. Orange blossom water is an old world flavoring especially popular in French butter cookies.  Its flavor can overpower so only a small amount is used to add a floral note. Vanilla extract can easily be substituted.

Almond Chocolate Sprtiz Cookies

Make sure to use soft butter and almond paste at room temperature.  This makes the dough pipeable.  We used a cookie press and found the dough easy to pipe. For added taste and eye appeal, Cindy suggests you drizzle a few ounces of melted chocolate over the filled cookies.  For the recipe, click here.