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Rainbow Seven Layer Bars

These lovely almond-flavored beauties are adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe by the creator of 20 Something Cupcakes, Sarah Schiear. Sarah’s blog is geared toward twentysomethings and is written in an approachable, conversational tone. No, it’s not just cupcakes, and no, it’s not just for twentysomethings. Everyone will find a new recipe they’re excited to try on Sarah’s site. While these Italian treats are traditionally made with apricot jam, this recipe uses raspberry to complement the chocolate and almond flavor profile. We think these cookies would be perfect for an Olympic celebration: Instead of green food coloring, swap out for blue and you’ll have the most festive American flag cookies on your block.

Recipe Notes: Sarah does recommend freezing the bars at least 8 hours before slicing them, so plan accordingly.

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Ingredients

4 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

7-ounce tube almond paste

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened, and 2 tablespoons for the pan

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

25 drops red food coloring

25 drops green food coloring

13-ounce jar raspberry preserves, heated and strained (you can also use apricot)

7 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Equipment: Parchment or wax paper, small offset spatula,13x9-inch baking pan.

Directions

1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13x9-inch baking pan and line bottom with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two ends.

2. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

3. Switch your mixer attachment to the paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

4. Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

5. Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside. Chill green batter, covered.

5. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick). Bake red layer 7 to 9 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean.)

6. Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool. Wipe pan of any red residue, but don’t wipe away the excess butter, and line again with parchment or wax paper. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.

7. When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a baking pan or sheet. Chill at least 8 hours.

9. Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. (Or, you can melt 3.5 ounces of chocolate at a time like I did, to ensure both layers of chocolate are exactly even.)

10. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate.

11. Either freeze for several hours, or allow cookies to come to room temperature before cutting. Place a sharp chef’s knife under running hot water and then dry it. First trim the edges. Cut lengthwise into 4 or 5 strips, depending on how big you want them. Cut strips crosswise into 3/4-inch-wide cookies, continuing to heat and dry the knife as necessary. Store at room temperature in an airtight container, layered between sheets of wax paper or parchment, for up to 2 weeks. Or, freeze them for even longer!

Makes between 5 and 6 dozen bars

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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