Archive for the ‘baking’ Category

Pumpkin is all the rage

October 29, 2014

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Since anything with #pumpkin is super cool right now I decided to continue on my fall coffeecake bender. I love when company visits and I have a reason to bake up a special treat. The recipe I found this time intrigued me because it was an accidental success. The blogger messed up on another recipe and ended up with this delicious cinnamon swirl pumpkin coffeecake. It was easy to make and insanely delicious. I would have to say it tasted like a pumpkin pie to me, with a glaze on it. I would probably make this again but for a fall potluck or as a dessert for thanksgiving dinner. It was a fun twist on typical pumpkin pie and did not register as coffeecake to me. Regardless, it was scrumptious and it fulfilled that constant pumpkin time of year craving.

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Coffee Cake
Ingredients
  • 1¾ cups of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • 6 ounces pumpkin puree (about ½ a can)
  • ½ cup milk
Cinnamon Swirl
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter (1/2 a stick of butter), melted
Glaze
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F.
  2. With a whisk, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.
  3. In a separate bowl mix the pumpkin, vegetable oil, sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla.
  4. Combine all ingredients and mix together until just combined.
  5. Pour batter into an 8×8 cake pan.
  6. Meanwhile in a small bowl, add melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar for the cinnamon swirl.
  7. Drop spoonfuls of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top of the batter. With a knife, swirl the cinnamon sugar mixture throughout the pumpkin batter.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for about 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Meanwhile, to make the glaze, mix together powdered sugar and a little milk. You may have to add a little more milk to get the right consistency.
  10. When the pumpkin cake has cooled some, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake.
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  25 mins
Total time:  35 mins
Serves: 12
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Pumpkin Crumb Cake

September 21, 2014

photoIt’s fall and pumpkin stuff is everywhere. From Starbucks to cheesy store fall decor, pumpkins make the fall season merry.  I saw a friend post a link to this recipe on FB and I knew I had to try it. I love crumb cake and adding the pumpkin gives it a new twist. We had company visiting which always gives me a reason to bake for our guests. The motive is less selfish when I can say I am making it for someone else and then I feel less guilt about eating the whole thing myself. I think it came out quite tasty. The crumb topping pairs well with the pumpkin flavor. The cake is more dense from the richness of the pumpkin pie filling, sort of like a pumpkin bar.So if you are craving fall flavors and want some coffeecake that doesn’t cost $5 a slice at Starbucks, check this out.

Pumpkin Crumb Cake

Ingredients

Cake
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 cup whole milk
Crumb
1/2 cup cold butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
How to Make

Preheat oven to 350°
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
In large bowl beat sugar and butter together until combined. Add in eggs, vanilla and pumpkin mixing until smooth.
Add dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with milk, starting and ending with dry mixture. Beat for 1 more minute until smooth, scraping sides as necessary.
Spread batter into pan evenly.
To make crumb mixture, cut together all ingredients using a pastry cutter or fork. I like to get in with my hands and combine the ingredients once they are all mixed, and form larger clumps of crumb.
Spread this mixture on top of cake batter.
Bake for 45-55 minutes until center is set and toothpick comes out clean.
Can be served warm or at room temperature.

More Mug Cake Madness

August 3, 2014

bowlcake

I was having a sweet craving the other night and my hubby has been on a super healthy eating streak so I have stopped baking. Since I have made mug cakes before I figured that would fulfill my craving without busting my gut. I found a recipe that included Nutella, which is usually a staple in my pantry, but I shockingly had none in the house. Honestly the cake was so moist and delicious it did not need the Nutella (yes you are reading that correctly, direct from this Nutella addict’s thoughts). So if you need a quick fix for a sweet treat and don’t want to share or have a whole sheet of cake leftover to taunt you, check out this decadent dessert:

Super Moist Chocolate Mug cake

1/4 c flour

2 Tb cocoa (I used new hershey’s dark cocoa, mmmm)

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 Tb sugar

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 C & 1 Tb milk

2 Tb vegetable oil

Mix together dry ingredients, add wet ones and mix till no lumps. Nuke for 70-80 seconds depending on microwave watts. I used a small mixing bowl that is microwave safe because you would need a super large mug to make it. So I guess that makes it a bowl cake, lol. The recipe also said you can insert a spoon of Nutella in the middle and swirl it in upon serving but it did not need that. That would have made it too sweet. It was a bit gooey in center but that made it sort of like a molten lava cake, so I did not cook it any longer. You will not believe how moist and delicious this cake is in mere seconds in your microwave. It hit the spot!

“Get in my belly” strawberry shortcake cake

June 21, 2014

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My new favorite cooking go to buddy is the Pioneer Woman. Maybe you have seen her show on Food Network or read her blog, but if not, check her out. She speaks to me in my language – cooking ridiculously delicious things from scratch. I have made a few of her recipes on here, most recently I made her fajita recipe again that I posted here. I offered to make a cake for someone’s birthday and I went to her amazing blog and just simply searched “cake.” I like doing this as the variety of options that come up are endless, from angel food cake, to decadent chocolate peanut butter to fruity summer treats. I suggest you check out her blog, not only does she post amazing food photography and step by step photos, but she has new take on old favorites, great holiday recipes,  and a recipe for pretty much anything.

So on a recent search I was curious about her strawberry shortcake cake recipe that popped up. I love strawberry shortcake and have tried many versions. This one was not a typical biscuit or sponge cake with strawberry topping and whipped cream recipe. It was the ingredients you would expect to find in this dessert but with a twist – cake and cream cheese frosting. Let me put it out there that I LOVE cream cheese frosting. I don’t know if it is because it is sort of like a quick cheesecake flavored treat or if it is because it is rich and creamy and great to top anything from cinnamon rolls to brownies to carrot cake. Anyhow a strawberry shortcake with cream cheese frosting sounded intriguing. So I decided to give it a go.

The cake in this “shortcake” is like one I never tasted. It is like a sponge cake but not as soft and it has amazing flavor and texture. In the last few years I became a strawberry shortcake biscuit recipe fan, and had gone away from the cake version. Anyhow, this cake was amazing, it was the perfect vessel for the strawberries and cream cheese.  I am not exaggerating when I say this is ONE OF THE BEST CAKES I HAVE EVER TASTED. Something about the cake and the way you smash up the strawberries and then layer them with cream cheese frosting over the strawberries and then over the entire cake, makes it just sing in your mouth. Plus this cream cheese frosting is richer and more tasty than any I have made before and will be my new go to version for other recipes. This shortcake cake is one that you’ll be salivating over for years to come.

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split the cake when cool

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smash up your fresh berries

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make the cream cheese frosting of my dreams

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it may look plan but inside this cake is magic!

Next time I will top it with more berries for pretty decorations.

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 9 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, Softened
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 3 whole Large Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Sour Cream, Room Temperature
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla

Icing

  • 1/2 pound (80z) Cream Cheese, Room Temperature
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds Powdered Sugar, Sifted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 pound Strawberries

Preparation Instructions

IMPORTANT: Be sure to use a cake pan that’s at least 2 inches deep! Before baking, the batter should not fill the pan more than halfway. (I used a spring foam 9 inch cheesecake pan which shortened my baking time a bit)

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and corn starch.
Cream 9 tablespoons butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well each time. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined. Add sifted dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just barely combined.

Pour into greased and floured 8-inch cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes, or until no longer jiggly like my bottom (from the pioneer woman, not me, haha). Remove from cake pan as soon as you pull it out of the oven, and place on a cooling rack and allow it to cool completely.

Stem strawberries and slice them in half from bottom to top. Place into a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Stir together and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mash the strawberries in two batches. Sprinkle each half with 1 tablespoons sugar and allow to sit for another 30 minutes.

Make icing: combine cream cheese, 2 sticks butter, sifted powdered sugar, vanilla, and dash of salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until very light and fluffy.

Slice cake in half through the middle. Spread strawberries evenly over each half (cut side up), pouring on all the juices. Place cake halves into the freezer for five minutes, just to make icing easier.

Remove from freezer. Use a little less than 1/3 of the icing to spread over the top of the strawberries on the bottom layer. Place the second layer on top. Add half of the remaining icing to the top spreading evenly, then spread the remaining 1/3 cup around the sides.

Leave plain OR garnish with strawberry halves.

IMPORTANT: Cake is best when served slightly cool. The butter content in the icing will cause it to soften at room temperature. For best results, store in the fridge!

 

Snickerdoodles are nothing to snicker at

April 13, 2014

cookie

I have many go to cookie recipes I stick to but every now and then I try something new. Recently I saw a recipe for Snickerdoodles on my King Arthur bread flour bag. Yes folks, I typed that right, bread flour?! I have never thought of making cookies with bread flour but I was intrigued. In my baking endeavors I have found changing up the flour, using cake flour for example, can yield totally different results. This recipe was simple and I had everything in my cabinet and it was from one of my favorite recipe sites, so it was a go. I don’t think I have ever made snickerdoodles and honestly I wasn’t a huge fan of the grocery store version. These cookies came out delish, they were buttery, soft and moist and I could pronounce all the ingredients – bonus! So if you want to whip up an easy tasty treat that is sure to please your peeps, check this out:

Snickerdoodles

  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
  • *If you use unsalted butter, increase the salt to 1/2 teaspoon.

coating

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, to taste

directions

1) Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

2) Beat together the butter and sugar until smooth.

3) Add the egg, beating until smooth.

4) Beat in the vanilla, salt, and baking powder.

5) Add the flour, mixing until totally incorporated.

6) To make the coating: Shake together the sugar and cinnamon in a medium-sized zip-top plastic bag.

7) Drop 1″ balls of dough into the bag; a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here. Roll/toss the cookies in the cinnamon-sugar until they’re completely coated.

8) Space the cookies at least 1 1/2″ apart on the prepared baking sheets. Use a flat-bottom glass to flatten them to about 3/8″ thick; they’ll be about 1 1/2″ in diameter.

9) Bake the cookies for 8 minutes (for soft cookies) to 10 minutes (for crunchier cookies). Remove them from the oven, and cool them on the pan until they’re firm enough to transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Yield: 3 1/2 dozen cookies.

Pasta’s perfect Pal

February 25, 2014

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I hosted an Italian Family Sunday dinner recently and I made all sorts of yummy treats. My most famous dish is my carbonara, but that recipe remains secret! This time I wanted to make a homemade bread to serve with my carbonara. I had recently seen one of my favorite shows, Extra Virgin, on the cooking channel and remembered Gabriele making some delicious bread. The bread was called Schiacciata and it was an authentic Italian bread. I am so glad I tried this recipe out. The dough was the perfect pillowy texture. It was super easy to make and tasty with the fresh rosemary and cherry tomatoes. I think you could top it with all sorts of yummy combos, garlic and basil, thyme and shallots, whatever you like. It was crispy and the perfect paring to my homemade fettuicine carbonara. Cooks note: in a pinch I made this a second time with store bought pizza dough and it still turned out great!

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Schiacciata

Ingredients:

  • cup lukewarm water
  • package instant dry yeast
  • cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • cup cherry tomatoes
  • teaspoons sea salt
  • sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed

DIRECTIONS

Measure the water in a measuring cup, stir in the yeast and let develop for 10 minutes. It should look foamy when it’s ready. 

Meanwhile, add the flour and kosher salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn on to whisk together and run for a minute or so to create a well. With the mixer running, add the water and yeast in a stream. Turn the mixer up to speed 2 and knead until the dough comes away from the bowl and it looks smooth and feels elastic but still sticky, 5 to 7 minutes. Flour your hands and knead the dough for a minute on the counter. 

Grease a large glass bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the dough, flip on both sides and cover with a clean tea towel. Place the dough in a warm spot to rise until it is double in size, about 1 hour. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spread a half sheet tray with the remaining olive oil. Lay the dough on top and stretch and pat out until it reaches 10-by-16-inches, an oval rough shape is ideal. Use your fingertips to press in small indentations. Sprinkle evenly with the cherry tomatoes, sea salt and rosemary leaves. Let rise again for 20 minutes.

Place on the middle rack of the oven and bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Slice into wedges or squares for serving and drizzle with more olive oil, if desired.

Cinnamon Bun Sundays

February 16, 2014

rolls

My readers have seen my many posts on Sunday morning treats before. I recently saw a new recipe I just had to try. It was from a show that always has great recipes, the Chew. Also, these cinnamon rolls are from one of my favorite chefs, Mario Batali. Upon reading the ingredients I was a bit puzzled. The dough had white wine in it, hmm that sounds strange, I thought. I have never used wine in any doughs before, I wondered if it would come together. I have also never had a Mario Batali recipe that turned out bad so I figured what the heck. I had a nice bottle of chardonnay in fridge I use for cooking. The water and sugar amounts in the recipe were less than usual dough so I could see how the wine replaces those measurements.

dough
I have to tell you, when me and my gorgeous Italian sous chef mixed it together it smelled a bit funky. But after we added the flour and got the dough to come together it was the perfect texture and the smell of the wine and the yeast went away. After letting the dough rise, I knew this was going to be great, as the dough was so soft and fluffy. It was really easy to make it the recipe had one of my favorite criteria – I had all of the ingredients in the house (even before grocery day, and my cabinets were pretty bare).

filler

The only thing I tweaked was using my mom’s confectionary sugar glaze, instead of Mario’s version. So if you want to whip up some fresh cinnamon rolls for a sweet Sunday treat, these rolls are a great new version to try.

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Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1/4 cup Light Red or White Wine
  • 1 cup Warm Water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Yeast; 1/4 ounce envelope
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour; plus more for dusting

For Assembling the Rolls

  • 1/2 stick Melted Butter; plus more to coat pan
  • 1/2 cup Demerara or Turbinado Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Cinnamon
  • Salt

Glaze

  • 2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 2 Lemons; zested
  •  To Make the Dough: Combine the Wine, Water and Yeast in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the Honey, Salt and the Olive Oil and mix thoroughly. Add 1 cup of the Flour and mix with a wooden spoon to make a loose batter. Add 2 more cups of the Flour and stir with the spoon for 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate as much flour as possible.
  • Bring the dough together by hand and turn out onto a floured board or marble surface. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes, until you have made a smooth firm dough. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes.
  • For Assembling the Cinnamon Rolls: Preheat oven to 375° F. Butter a small cake pan and set aside.
  • On a clean floured surface, roll out the dough using a rolling pin. When the dough is an 1/8 inch thick, pour the Melted Butter generously on top, spreading evenly. Evenly sprinkle the Sugar and Cinnamon over the Melted Butter.
  • Carefully roll the dough, working away from you. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into even slices, about one to two inches thick. Arrange the slices in the cake pan to fill pan as much as possible, with the edges of the rolls in contact with each other. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until deep golden brown.

    • To Make the Glaze: While the rolls are baking, prepare the icing by placing Powdered Sugar in a bowl. Pour the warm water into the Sugar and whisk until smooth. Adjust the Sugar and Water until desired consistency has been reached. Add zest and stir to combine. Drizzle glaze over rolls to serve.
  • *Cooks note: My mom’s glaze is confectionary sugar, vanilla extract, milk and butter. I eyeball it but I would say it is: 2 Cups confectionary sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 Tbs milk and 1 Tbs butter, can add more milk as needed to thin out frosting. I use this anytime I need a glaze.

Making whoopee under the moon

February 8, 2014

moon

Eastern versus western is always an ongoing battle in our world. Whether it is BBQ or burger places, each coast always thinks theirs is the best. I have been lucky enough to live on both coasts which has given me the chance to sample many culinary delights. I am a yankee by birth and proud of it. On the east coast my favorite sweet treat is called a black moon or a moon pie. After living out west for the last few years I have found they are called whoopee pies out here. I always get a strange look when I say I am bringing a black moon to a party in CA. But I know if I was home in New Hampshah and said I had whoopee pies for dessert, I might get a funny look.

However you like to say it, moon pies are a real treat. The moist chocolate cake made into a sandwich with fluff (another thing west coast people usually do not know about) frosting to glue it together; can you think of a better marriage? When I have seen these heavenly little pies at bakeries, they are upwards of $5! You can make them very cheaply and then you don’t have to eat just one. Another fun thing is to make mini “slider” versions or just go for it and make a few large ones, with the same batch of batter and frosting.  This is my mom’s recipe (thanks Mahgee), not sure where she got it, but this is the only time my friends and family get excited for me to break out my moons.

Black Moons (aka whoopie pies, aka moon pies, aka heaven)

Cake Ingredients:

1/2 cup crisco

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

2 cups of all purpose flour (king arthur’s is best)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda

1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder

1 cup of milk

1. Beat crisco, egg, sugar and vanilla.

2. Mix dry ingredients and then add to wet alternatively with milk.

3. Drop from cookie or muffin scoop (depending on size you want, can use a spoon) onto ungreased baking pan, can make  around 24 halves

4. Bake at 425 degrees for 9-10 mins, check oven temp and watch those suckers, they burn fast. Mine were done in 8! A few got a bit dark on the underside edge, I used a zester to remove the darker spots, a very handy tool to keep you from throwing away stuff that baked a bit too long in spots.

Cream Filling Ingredients:

1/2 cup crisco

1 cup confectionary sugar

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla

1 cup of marshmallow fluff

Dilute with tiny bit of milk

1. mix crisco, confectionary sugar, vanilla, and fluff in stand mixer. Dilute with teaspoon or more of milk if needed, to get to nice thick spreadable frosting consistency.

Frost one half of moon and stick second half on top. Dust with confectionary sugar from sifter to make a pretty treat.

Makes around 1 dozen whoopie pies, depending on size. I know I am all about natural and I rarely use crisco in my recipes, but I have tried this recipe with butter and it is not the same, so it is ok to break out the crisco once and a while.

Margie’s Buttermilk Bread

January 11, 2014

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My mom always passes long the best recipes. I don’t know where she finds these magical creations but I am thankful she shares them with me. When we used to live closer and have dinner at her house she always had a fresh loaf of bread baked for my hubby, his favorite. I have had a bread maker for years but never broke it out except to make pizza dough. But now that we live farther apart I had to try it out as we missed her famous buttermilk bread. Let me tell you this recipe is easy, literally “set it and forget it” and it comes out amazing. The buttermilk and honey add a light sweetness to the bread and it is very fluffy and light. Now this is my go to recipe for a holiday side, rather than my standard roll recipe I used before. Who can resist the smell of bread baking and then slathering up a buttery slice?

Margie’s Buttermilk Bread

Add ingredients to bread machine in order listed

1 and 1/4 cups buttermilk

3 Tablespoons honey

3 Tablespoons of soft butter

3 and 1/4 cups of bread flour (or all purpose, I like King Arthur flour. I noticed a big difference when I used bread vs regular flour)

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1 and 1/2 teaspoons of bread machine yeast

Add to bread machine, try not to have yeast touch wet ingredients but spread out over top of dry pile. Select large white loaf setting (mine is 3 hours). Dough will knead, rise and bake a beautiful loaf right in your machine, sweet!

 

Italian Rainbow Cookies

December 29, 2013

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There are many beautiful colors in the rainbow, but my favorite are red, white and green – the color of the Italian flag. I have been wanting to make this recipe for some time but did not have the specific ingredient (marzipan) or the time, as it takes a lot of steps. I went to the base commissary recently and saw they had marzipan on clearance and took it as a sign. Marzipan is an almond paste that is used in many dolce Italian treats. In Sicily they used it to make these gorgeous replicas of fruit that were hand painted and delicious. I knew of Marzipan before I lived in Sicily because my mom always sought out the marzipan chocolate in her belgian chocolate assortments, so I grew to love the flavor at a young age. My mom can be frugal at times but won’t blink when it comes to spending more on some great chocolate. But I digress…

Since I had the marzipan in my pantry I decided to go for it. This year I was also making my mom’s black and white cookies for Santa, they are such a yummy confection. The recipe I was using was by an Italian chef I really admire, Lidia Bastianich. She has some amazing recipes on her site and a popular PBS show called Lidia’s Italy. I would have to say it was not a hard recipe to complete but it did take a lot of steps and over a couple of days to complete. I would not have been able to do it without the help of my fabulous Italian sous chef, Gianna. The end result was a Italian rainbow bar of decadence and scrumptiousness. Even my husband who is not a huge fan of marzipan or almond extracts, loved the cookies. The only thing we modified was to use strawberry jam instead of apricot to appease the little people in my house. I think this was a good marriage – think chocolate covered strawberries – so that flavor married well with the chocolate and almond. Also I used three 9×12 rimmed cookie sheets and barely had enough batter to fill those, so you might not need the bigger pans in the recipe. If you want to make some special treats for a holiday or event, let yourself be inspired by the Italian flag in this recipe.

Lidia’s Italian Rainbow Cookies:

Ingredients:

8 ounces almond paste
1 cup sugar
2½ sticks unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon red food coloring, gel or paste preferred
1 teaspoon green food coloring, gel or paste preferred
Two 15-ounce jars smooth (not chunky) apricot jam
1½ pounds bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 15-by-10-inch rimmed sheet pans (I used 9×12 ones) , and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.

Combine the almond paste and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until you have fine crumbles. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and pulse until well mixed. Plop in the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until the batter is smooth. Sprinkle in salt, and mix. Sift in flour, and mix until just combined.

Whisk egg whites in a bowl until foamy. While whisking, slowly add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and whisk until firm peaks form. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then gently fold in remaining egg whites.

Divide batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl plain, without any coloring. Add red food coloring to one bowl, stirring to make a deep-salmon color. Add green food coloring to last bowl, stirring to make a medium-green color. Spread batter into each of the prepared pans with a spatula. Bake, rotating pans to opposite racks, until cakes are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven, let cakes cool completely on wire racks, then remove from pans.

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Trim each of the layers to even out the thickness of the cakes. Put the green cake layer back, cut side up, into one of the lined pans. Spread one jar of jam over the cake, almost all of the way to the edges. Place the plain layer of cake on top of the jam. Spread the remaining jar of jam almost all the way to the edges of the plain layer. Place the red layer on top of the ham, cut side up. Wrap the entire cake in plastic, and top with another pan, weighted with cans. Chill in refrigerator 4 hours or overnight.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Unwrap the cake, and place on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Pour and spread the chocolate over the top the cake, using a spatula to guide the chocolate over the top and down the sides of the cake. If the kitchen is cool, let the chocolate harden that way; if it is warm, clear a space in the refrigerator to place the cake and let the chocolate harden. When the chocolate is about halfway set, gently rake the topping with the tines of a fork or a dough scraper with dentals, starting from the end of the chocolate covering all the way to the other end, slightly undulating the lines as you move along. Repeat until all of the chocolate has indented stripes. Let the chocolate set completely.

Using a serrated knife, cut the set and decorated layers into three dozen rectangles, using the outer sides to form perfectly cut rectangles.