Italian rainbow cookies. Those delightful brightly colored squares of almond cake-like heaven, layered with marzipan, and a subtle hint of raspberry and apricot preserves–all wrapped in a sprinkle coated chocolate ganache–because everything tastes better that way. (Ask any true dedicated lover of these cookies about the difference between what we call the ‘real’ marzipan version versus the impostures with just jelly, and they’ll undoubtedly voice their heated opinion on the subject.)
These pink, yellow and green beauties stand out behind a bakery glass as if to say, ‘Pick me, I’m the prettiest!’ then make you fall madly in love upon first bite. Even just that sweet almond aroma will lure you in. I seek them out on
dessert platters, hoarding a few extra in a napkin for later (think Bar/Bat Mitzvah luncheons) or make special stops at Italian markets whenever the mood strikes.
Two years ago, my friend and I, also a lover of these confections, were in the city and needed a birthday cake for Hubby. It was his pre-celebration (we do a month-long event over here!) so I hadn’t baked anything yet. Then, right before our eyes, we noticed this glistening rainbow cookie cake. “Is THAT what I think it is?” I asked the guy behind the counter. To our luck, the answer was ‘yes’. It was everything we loved about the individual treats in a magnified way, and to this day I still remember it as one of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. We tried to get it again, but to our disappointment, they stopped making it.
Fast forward to the time when CRUMBS (moment of silence…) introduced their version of this creation, in cupcake form. IT. WAS. AMAZING. DELICIOUS. SPECTACULAR. The best I’ve ever had. While I typically found many of their desserts way too sweet, this was absolutely perfect. I think about it all the time.
There was a CRUMBS not far from our house that Hubby and I would frequent often, making a ritual on special occasions and part of our day on many weekends. Whether sitting outside by the water on a sunny day, enjoying it in PJs on the couch or more recently, as I fed him bites at traffic lights while I inhaled the rest during a drive, we’d split it right down the middle.
I used to think it was kind of romantic. Now? I’m just kicking myself for all the halves I could’ve had all these years.
This loss must be how my dad felt when Hostess went under and Funny Bones became extinct. Which made me realize, there was still hope. I could sit there in sadness over the fact that both the cake and cupcake were no longer part of our lives or I could change that. Recreate it. Make it my own. Just like That’s SO Jenn’s version of the Funny Bone.
So for Hubby’s birthday yesterday, that’s exactly what I did. While I wish I came up with this incredible recipe on my own, I have to give full credit to Always Order Dessert First for this one. I added my own touch of covering the sides in chocolate sprinkles to mimic the original cookie, and next time I would make a note to add a little more filling. Otherwise, though, Hubby said it was one of the best cakes I’ve ever made.
We enjoyed it in celebration with his family last night, again for breakfast this morning, then after lunch today. And we didn’t split it. I’m not making that mistake again.
3 sticks butter, softened
1.5 cups granulated white sugar
6 large eggs
12 ounces of almond paste, grated with a box grater
1 tablespoon pure almond extract
1 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
3 teaspoons baking powder
red food coloring
green food coloring
yellow food coloring
1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/4 cup apricot preserves
Chocolate sprinkles (my addition)
For the ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
12 oz semisweet chocolate
Special equipment: Three 9″ round pans, buttered and floured, with a circle of parchment paper on the bottom
In the base of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. About 5 minutes.
Add eggs and continue to continue to eat for three more minutes.
Grate almond paste and add to the bowl.
Pour in milk.
And almond extract.
Mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.
Slowly add to the almond paste batter and mix until well combined.
Separate the mixture into three bowls. I used a scale to be sure they were even.
Dye each bowl a different shade (one green, one yellow, one red). The red food coloring should be used to create a pink layer.
Butter and flour (I just coated with cooking spray!) three 9″ pans, and add a parchment circle on top. That’s SO Jenn’s Tip: you can purchase these at the store to save on measuring/cutting time!
Pour each color of the mixture into individual pans making sure to smooth out the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper and let cool completely. I always even off the tops if need be by thinly slicing a knife across to create a smooth, even surface.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the ganache by heating 1 cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan just until bubbles start to form around the edge.
Turn off heat and pour over chocolate in a large bowl.
Stir continuously until melted and smooth.
Let cool until room temperature. In the meantime, assemble your cake by starting with the pink layer, and spreading it with the raspberry jam until it nearly reaches the edges of the cake.
Top with the yellow cake. Spread this with the apricot preserves.
Top with the final green layer, then use a spoon to pour the ganache over the cake and smooth with a spatula.
Use as much ganache as you need to be sure the cake is completely covered.
Using your hand to cup the chocolate sprinkles, push them onto the sides of the cake.
Let sit at room temperature in a cool spot for 1-2 hours until completely set. Leave plain or decorate as desired. Next time, I’ll add a rainbow cookie or two on top!
Eat and enjoy the relief of knowing you can eat this any time you want!
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