Friday, December 24, 2010
My week of extremes continued. I dealt with emails from a student who isn't particularly happy with the grade that student earned, all while questioning my partiality. Grrrr Doesn't put me in a good mood. So, when I woke up this morning and was scrambling to get the last important necessities for tomorrow's dinner, I wasn't too thrilled. (People were pouring into the streets and a trip that normally takes about 10 minutes, took over 45.) But, then something happened. A guy in an SUV signaled to get over into my lane. Since I figured that one car length wasn't going to make my 45 minutes go any faster, I slowed and let him in. Then the best thing happened. He did the wave. And not just a quick throwing of the hand, but a long (about 10 seconds), deliberate wave. All of a sudden, I had a smile on my face. Don't know why something so small and simple completely changed my mood, but it did. It also reminded me how the very little things we do can do wonders for someone else. On the same token, it can have quite a negative effect. So, we may feel like we really don't make a difference and our day-to-day lives aren't as significant as the grand gestures, but really, a wave is all it takes.
On to the food!!! I have saved my most favorite cookie for last. Venetians, or "Italian Rainbow Cookies we affectionately called them as kids, are so addicting. Every Christmas, my dad and I would make them. I would get to put in the red food coloring and mix away, one brother would get to mix in the green food coloring (red, green, and white for the colors of the Italian flag), and another brother would be in charge of licking the spoon. Tough job. I know. These are not exactly the kind of cookie that you can dump from a box and 8-10 minutes later, you had a dozen warm cookies. Once you baked the layers, then you had to assemble them, which required overnight smooshing before pouring the chocolate. Then of course waiting for that part to be cooled. Talk about a lesson in patience. To this day, I still have issues waiting for the proper cooling time. Shhhh don't tell my dad, but I've been known to cool it down in the freezer. So, don't let all the steps deter you from trying these. They are completely worth it! For those of you who know me and want to try them out, let me know! I'll be happy to be your baking buddy. (Yes, the alliteration was on purpose.)
8 ounces almond paste
1 cup softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated (save all parts!)
2 cups all-purpose flour
8 drops red food coloring
8 drops green food coloring
1/4 cup seedless red raspberry jam
1/4 apricot jam
1 cup semisweet chocolate, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line three 9x13 inch baking pans with wax paper.
In a large bowl, break apart the almond paste with a fork into very small pieces. Add the butter, sugar, and egg yolks and cream until fluffy and smooth. Stir in the flour to form the dough.
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the dough.
Then divide the dough into 3 separate bowls equally. Mix one bowl with green food coloring and another with red.
Spread each portion into one of the prepared baking pans. It will be thick and a little difficult. Don't spread it too thin.
Bake for about 10 minutes until the edges just begin to lightly brown. Warning, for some reason, there may be a bunch of smoke. Something about the wax paper and the dough. Just keep a window open so you smoke alarm doesn't go off (like mine did. Twice.). Cool completely.
Spread the green layer with raspberry jam and top with the uncolored layer. Then top that with the apricot jam. Top with the red layer. Place a piece of wax paper on the top and compress with heavy books. Chill in the refrigerator overnight (or 8 hours).
Remove the books and wax paper. Pour the melted chocolate on top. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm (about 20 minutes). Then cut into small squares. Refrigerate for another 40 minutes to continue to harden (helps to cut early on so it doesn't break and crack so easily).