Friday, December 18, 2009

The Spin Cycle- Holiday Recipe

This weeks Spin Cycle is "favorite holiday treats". Mmmmm, holiday treats.

I'm posting late this week because I've been ruminating on all the marvelous things we make at the holidays, and trying to decide which one to share. My husband (and most of his family) make these really good "acorn" cookies (think home made Pepperidge Farm type goodies). So tasty. I make strufolli (fried honey balls) and a lot of other "italian" cookies (think that Italian cookie tray from the bakery? now think of it homemade...) I pretty much eat cookies 24/7 this time of year. And I don't worry about the calories. I like the "spritz" cookies from the fancy gun (one of my c-workers made a recipe for those with cardamom this year?!!), I like the Pillsbury from the fridge cookies. I pretty much like them all. A good cookie can just make my day. Do you see why I'm so happy in December?

After much deliberating, I bring you one of my all time favorites. If you get one of those "Italian" cookie trays, and they don't have these, return it for a full refund. It's krappe. These are those square cake type cookies, the ones with many multi colored layers. The ones the non-Italians avoid because they're not sure what the hell they are. Stop avoiding them. They're the best ones on the tray.

Neapolitan Squares

1 1/2 cups butter
1 (7oz) package Almond Paste (not filling)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp almond extract
4 eggs room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
10 drops green food coloring
8 drops red food coloring
1 (12 oz) jar seedless raspberry preserves (or apricot)
5 (1 oz) squares of semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp butter

In a bowl, beat 1 1/2 c butter, almond paste, sugar and almond extract until creamy. Beat in eggs, one at at time until well incorporated. Blend in the flour. Spread 1/3 of the batter (about 1 1/2 cups) in a parchment lined and well greased 13 X9 X2 inch pan (I use a well greased offset spatula for this). Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes or until the edges are slightly browned (pay attention to the time, you'll need it for later). Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Tint 1/3 of the remaining batter green, and the other 1/3 red. Bake according to the directions above. If you're really feeling it, you can do more colors and just divide the batter more. I've seen up to 7 layers work decently well. You could get all fancy and make the layers blue and purple and call them Hanukkah cookies.

Heat the raspberry preserves and stir until smooth. Strain through a sieve (do not try to alleviate this step by using jelly, it's not the same!) Arrange the green cake on a baking sheet. Spread 1/2 of the preserves on top. Slap on the yellow (white) layer and spread on the remaining preserves. Top with the red layer. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, place another baking sheet on top and weight it down (the recipe says the big crushed tomato cans work well- can you tell we're Italian?)

The next day, melt the chocolate in a double burner (sorry to get all complicated on you) and 2 tsp butter until smooth. Spread over red cake in a thin layer**. Let dry about 30 minutes. Cut into 1 inch squares.

**If you spread the chocolate too thick it cracks when you cut it.

I only recommend making these if you are planning on bringing them somewhere, or you're making cookie bundles for other people. If you are keeping them all for yourself, at least freeze half of them. They are high in calories, and you can eat about 1,000 without blinking.

I will warn that these are a tad time consuming, and not good to make with children. As a matter of fact, most kids don't really like them. But I highly recommend you indulge your adult nature and try them.

Happy Holidays, all. Head over to the Sprite's Keeper for more drool-tastic holiday ideas!


Sprite's Keeper said...

I LOVE those squares! My parents pick up a tray every year for Thanksgiving and they have 4 squares on it. Before my mom can even put out the tray, I've already been in it and taken all the Neapolitan Squares! So good!
You're linked!

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

These sound so good! I have no patience for baking and therefore I enjoy the work of others during the holidays!

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

Oh, God, these sound Good!
I love all Italian cookies.
What are the honey balls? They sound good!
Okay, off to make cookies here...

gretchen said...

Yum. The bars sound excellent. My husband's Italian family always has those honey balls, but I've never tried to make them myself.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Ohhhh! It's been a long time since I've had those squares! Thanks to you, I'll now be able to make my own! :)

Anonymous said...

Yummy! I may just have to try these....

Have a great week!

Ocean Girl said...

Reading your instructions is like watching an exercise show on tv. It was fulfilling :)