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Rainbow Cookies

Time2 hours, plus 4 hours chilling
YieldsMakes 40
Orange marmalade adds floral brightness to these classic Italian American sweets.
Orange marmalade adds floral brightness to these classic Italian American sweets, a favorite of writer Adam Roberts.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)
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Orange marmalade sandwiches the cake layers of these classic cookies, instead of more traditional raspberry or apricot, which balances the sweet treat with a hint of floral bitterness. Make sure the pans you use are truly flat and take care to spread the batter evenly so you get even layers. Give the almond paste a squeeze before buying to make sure it’s soft, so it’s easy to incorporate into the batter.

1

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease three “quarter-size” rimmed baking sheets or 9-by-13-inch baking pans with butter (or nonstick cooking spray). Line the bottom and two long sides of each with a strip of parchment paper so the edges hang over the sides of the pan. Grease the strips of paper with more butter (or cooking spray). Alternatively, if you only have one baking sheet or pan, grease it and you will bake one layer at a time.

2

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle (or in a large bowl and using a hand mixer), beat the almond paste on low speed to break it up. With the mixer running, begin adding the butter, a tablespoon at a time, until it’s all added and the almond paste-butter mixture is smooth. Add the sugar, mix to combine then increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

3

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well between each addition, until smooth; beat in the almond extract. Add the all-purpose flour and salt and mix until just combined.

4

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Use a large silicone spatula to fold the egg whites into the batter until smooth. Separate the batter into three medium bowls.

5

In the first bowl, stir in 1/2 teaspoon red food coloring until it turns a bright pink. In the second bowl, stir in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon red food coloring and 1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring until it turns bright orange. In the third bowl, whisk in the remaining 1/4 teaspoon yellow food coloring until it turns bright yellow. (You may need to add more of each color to really make it pop.)

6

Carefully scrape each batter into a prepared baking sheet and use an offset spatula or small silicone spatula to spread the batters as evenly as possible over the bottoms of the pans. Place the sheets in the oven and bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until dry to the touch on top, just set and barely beginning to brown on the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool completely in their pans, about 15 minutes.

If baking one layer at a time, start with the yellow batter, followed by the orange batter, then finally, the red batter. Let each layer cool in the sheet pan before unmolding and greasing and lining the sheet pan again.
7

Once the layers are all cool, flip the yellow layer onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and peel off the parchment paper; spread half of the orange marmalade over the yellow layer. Carefully flip the orange layer onto a wire rack, remove the parchment, then carefully slide it on top of the yellow layer; spread the remaining marmalade on top of the orange layer. Carefully flip the red layer onto a wire rack, remove the parchment, then carefully slide it on top of the orange layer. Cover the stacked layers with plastic wrap, then place one of the quarter-sized baking sheets on top. Place a couple of soup cans on the sheet to weigh the layers down and transfer the setup to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

8

Remove the soup cans, baking sheet and plastic wrap. Place the chocolate in a medium glass or metal bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water). Melt the chocolate, stirring with a heat-proof silicone spatula, until smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan, then pour the melted chocolate over the top of the layers, aiming for the center. Using an offset spatula or small silicone spatula, spread the chocolate evenly over the top of the layers. Return the layers to the refrigerator and chill to set the chocolate, at least 30 minutes.

9

To serve, trim all the sides of the layers with a sharp knife (save the scraps for snacks) then cut the layers in half lengthwise. Cut each piece lengthwise in half again, so you have four long pieces. Cut each piece crosswise into 10 even pieces to serve.

Make Ahead:
Store the cookies, wrapped in plastic or an airtight container, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.