I was a total blob this weekend as I came down off of this month of filming! I made snickerdoodles and then ate snickerdoodles, watched the UND hockey team score a million goals against Wisconsin, baked an extra buttery loaf of Alexandra’s bread, and discovered the brilliance that is Cynthia’s ginger chicken and dumplings. If you need proof that magic exists, just boil some chicken with tons of scallions and ginger, that’s it. Omg, it’s the best thing in my chicken life since Melissa Clark’s salt and pepper chicken. And then add a double batch of chewy dumplings and eat it while binging Three Wives, One Husband, and when those episodes run out (there were only four?!), embark on the holiday spirit.
I really can’t say that I’m glad that filming is over, because having the crew in my house and cooking all of my favorite winter foods rocked, but I can say that sitting on the couch and not thinking about anything except for snickerdoods and dumplings for a good few hours was deeply clutch.
Now that that’s out of my system though I’m beginning to think about Chrismukkah cookies and all of the cute boxes of them that I’m going to assemble over the coming season for various reasons (parties and gifts) and non-reasons (they look cute and are fun to make). Rainbow cookies are always a hit because they’re not only fiercely almondy and tasty but they also have a nice shelf life because of how moist they are. And I especially love them because, well, they’re actually cake.
I’m starting to exhaust variations on them (cake, gelato sandwiches), but wanted to drop these into the Chrismukkah lineup because they’re extra special! The green layer is actually matcha (an a+ pairing with the almond base), and the red layer has red bean paste (nutty and slightly fruity, also great with almond). I worked these up when I was developing a Chinese Jewish menu for an event next week in Baltimore. While matcha is typically thought of as a Japanese tea, it actually originated in China! And red bean paste is something that I grew up eating at dim sum in the center of Jian Dui, or fried sesame balls. I was afraid of it until Stoop told me that it tasted like peanut butter, so then I liked it. Classic rainbow cookies have Italian roots, but Jews love em. They end up on lots of our holiday dessert tables and I’m totally obsessed with their colorful, soft almondiness. This version doesn’t look too far off from the traditional but the added matcha and red bean paste add unexpected dimension and beautiful natural color. They are a perfect addition to any holiday cookie box!
Makes 16 cookies
3 large eggs, separated
2 tb (13g) sugar + 1/2 c (100g) sugar
1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened
6 oz (173g) almond paste, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/3 c (174g) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp matcha powder
1/4 c (68g) fine red bean paste
Red food coloring
3 tb (64g) apricot or raspberry jam
4 oz (114g) dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease three 8” by 4” loaf pans and line them with parchment paper that comes at least 2” up the sides of the pan (these little wings will help you lift the cookie out of the pan). If you don’t have 3 loaf pans, you can bake the layers in batches.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, and then with the mixer running on medium, gradually add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Increase the speed to medium high and beat to stiff peaks. Set them aside.
In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, almond paste, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar on medium high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium and add the yolks, one at a time, beating well after each. Beat in the lemon juice and almond extract, and then reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add the flour. Mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the whites. Transfer a third of the mixture to one of the loaf pans and use a small offset spatula to spread it out evenly. Transfer another third of the mixture to a separate bowl and fold in the matcha powder. Fold the red bean paste and a couple of drops of red food coloring into the remaining third. Transfer these into the remaining 2 loaf pans, spread them out evenly and then bake until the tops are just set and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 5 minutes and then lift them out and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Stack them up with 1 1/2 tablespoons jam between the layers. Wrap the loaf firmly in plastic wrap, weight it down with a couple of heavy cookbooks, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or by microwaving it for 30 second increments, stirring after each, until it’s smooth. Remove it from heat and stir continuously until it is no longer hot. Spread it over the top and sides of the cookie cake loaf and stick it in the refrigerator to firm up for about 15 minutes. Cut width-wise into 1” slices and then cut each of those slices in half to make 16 cookies.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container.
p.s. Watch the season premiere of Girl Meets Farm this Sunday at 11am/10 central!!! We’re making goulash, chocolate hazelnut donuts, hawaij apple pie, and brussels sprouts!!
photos by chantell and brett quernemoen