Category Archives: Vanilla

Double Funfetti Crumb Cake

Double Funfetti Crumb CakeI’ll admit that my heart sank to my ankles when I was asked to make “something like” the Milk Bar Birthday Cake for a first birthday party a few weeks ago.Double Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeIt’s not that I have anything against Christina Tosi or Milk Bar—I think she’s incredible and I have been known to enjoy a Cereal Milk Latte—but I have very little interest in making someone else’s recipes, especially when they involve things the average American homebaker doesn’t keep around, like acetate strips and large cake rings. Also, Tosi’s layer cake recipes are notoriously intricate; at their most basic, they involve a cake, a soak, buttercream, and a crumb. That’s a lot, even for someone who enjoys stupidly complicated baking projects 🙋🏻‍♀️ Double Funfetti Crumb CakeLong story short, I got it together, spent a lot of time looking at my copy of the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, and then did what I wanted. Since I am unlikely to ever post that full recipe, I’ll go ahead and tell you what I did: I used my Funfetti Cake recipe as-is, trimmed the sides by hand, brushed on sweetened condensed milk for the soak, and layered it all with a cream cheese-spiked vanilla buttercream and a simplified version of the Milk Bar Birthday Cake Crumb. And it was effing delicious. Double Funfetti Crumb CakeI have little intention of making it again because who has that kind of time??? But I will make time for one element: the Funfetti crumb. It’s got all the buttery crunch you’d expect in a shortbread or crispy sugar cookie, but it’s as simple as making the crumb topping for a coffee cake. And it’s colorful and happy and just the tiniest bit salty. And, well, connect the (rainbow sprinkle) dots.Double Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb Cake is exactly what it sounds like: tender sour cream Funfetti cake with a layer of Funfetti crumb baked on top. It’s the buttery, rainbow-speckled, no-cinnamon-allowed everyday coffee cake you didn’t know you wanted.Double Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeThe cake is rich and dense, the crumb provides just the right amount of crisp-crunch, and the rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils!) make it as cute as can be! It would be great for a celebratory breakfast or any coffee cake occasion, but I can also see it being a perfect birthday cake for someone who doesn’t like frosting.Double Funfetti Crumb CakeWhat? We all know that person. We may not totally understand their tastes but we respect them, and now we can make extra-fun cake for them to show them how much we love them.Double Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb Cake…this took a weird turn. Happy Friday, dear readers! Make yourself a cake this weekend!Double Funfetti Crumb Cake

Double Funfetti Crumb Cake
makes one 9-inch round cake, about 10 servings

Funfetti Crumb Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

Cake Batter:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles (jimmies, not nonpareils)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a springform pan. Set aside.

Make the crumb topping. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Whisk in rainbow sprinkles. Add vanilla and melted butter and stir until dry ingredients are saturated and clumps form. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until fluffy. Mix in egg, sour cream and vanilla; mixture may be a bit lumpy. Mix in half the dry ingredients followed by half the milk. Add remaining dry ingredients, followed by remaining milk. Use a silicone spatula (or wooden spoon) to fold in rainbow sprinkles.

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Use your fingers to evenly distribute crumb over the top. Tap full pan a few times on the countertop to release any large air bubbles. Bake cake for 65-75 minut e, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool 20 minutes in the pan on a rack. Run a thin, flexible knife around the edge of the pan before releasing the springform. Cake may be served warm or room temperature. If you’d like, let the cake cool completely, invert it and remove the parchment before placing on a serving platter. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the top. Serve.

Leftover cake will keep well at room temperature for up to two days, or in the refrigerator for up to five.
Double Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb CakeDouble Funfetti Crumb Cake

Advertisements

Neapolitan Cake

Neapolitan CakeI make a lot of cakes—a lot. In any given month, I make at least ten, plus any that are tested and posted on this blog. What can I say? I have friends who like to celebrate and like my cakes. I’m flattered.Neapolitan CakeOf course, this means that making cake—something that once only brought joy—can sometimes be a slog. I don’t necessarily mind when baking feels like work (because it is my work), but I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t wait to come home and bake layers after a long day of blogging and personal cheffing. The joy understandably gets a little lost when I’m making a double batch of vanilla layers at 11pm on a Tuesday.Neapolitan CakeBut when inspiration strikes and I can be creative, it could be 4am and I’d be psyched to be baking. My roommate might not particularly like it, but I’d be in heaven.Neapolitan CakeSuch was the case last month when I made a cake for a friend whose only instruction was that it should have something strawberry involved, at his young daughter’s request. Other than that, I could go wild.Neapolitan CakeAnd so that request for a strawberry element somehow meshed with vanilla and chocolate and became Neapolitan…and I went wild. Wild! And it was so much fun (and so delicious!) that I went and made a second cake for this blog. You’re welcome 😉Neapolitan CakeY’all. Y’ALL. This cake. It is a thing. A real undertaking. A project best done over the course of two days. The most intricate cake work that’s ever been on this blog (aside from the wedding cake, of course).Neapolitan CakeBut I am also completely obsessed with it. I mean, what’s not to love about this checkerboard chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry interior and the ruffled tricolor buttercream exterior? It’s the most fun!Neapolitan CakeThe cake layers are all made from one batter. Once it’s mixed together, it’s divided in thirds. One is left plain—that’s the vanilla layer. Another is spiked with freeze-dried strawberries, and the last with cocoa powder and melted chocolate.Neapolitan CakeThey’re baked, cooled, evened…Neapolitan Cake…and then punched into rings and reassembled.Neapolitan CakeAnd layered in a specific order with thin layers of vanilla buttercream.Neapolitan CakeNeapolitan CakeNeapolitan CakeNeapolitan CakeNeapolitan CakeAnd then decorated in the most fun (and shockingly easy!) ruffle pattern. Or, you know, however you like.Neapolitan CakeWhen all is said and done and sliced and served, all your friends’ minds will be blown at your Neapolitan Cake prowess. As they freaking should be.Neapolitan Cake

Neapolitan Cake
makes one 3-layer 9-inch round cake

Cake Batter:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted & cooled slightly
5 large eggs, room temperature
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups whole milk, room temperature
1 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature

For the Strawberry Layer:
1 1.2 ounce package freeze-dried strawberries, pulverized
2 tablespoons whole milk
red food coloring (I used 6 drops red gel), optional

For the Chocolate Layer:
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup whole milk

Special Equipment:
6 inch round cake ring/cookie cutter
3 inch round cake ring/cookie cutter

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again.

Make the cake batter. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and granulated sugar. Set aside.

Pour melted butter into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.

In a large measuring cup, use a fork to stir together whole milk and sour cream.

Whisk half the butter mixture into dry ingredients, followed by half the milk mixture. Add remaining mixture, followed by remaining milk mixture.

Make the flavored layers. Pour 3 1/4 cups of batter into one of the pans. This is the vanilla layer. Set aside.

Pour 3 1/4 cups of batter into each of two small mixing bowls.

To make the strawberry layer, whisk pulverized freeze-dried strawberries, whole milk, and food coloring into one of the bowls of batter. Transfer to another prepared pan. Set aside.

Make the chocolate layer. Whisk cocoa powder into the last bowl of batter.

Put chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Whisk into batter, followed by whole milk. Transfer to remaining prepared pan.

Smooth the tops of all the pans-full of batter. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 32-37 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edges of the pans and invert the cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely. Layers may be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Even the layers. Working with one layer at a time, use a serrated knife to trim all layers until they are of even height (mine were each 1 1/4 inch tall).

Assemble the layers. Working with one layer at a time, place layer on a cutting board or other surface. Use the 6-inch ring to cut out the center. Use the 3-inch ring to cut out the center of the 6-inch circle of cake. Wipe rings clean. Repeat with remaining layers.

Separate all circles/rings of cake so that you have 3 3-inch center pieces, 3 6-inch middle rings, and 3 9-inch outer rings. Make layers by pressing pieces together like a puzzle. Layers should be as follows:

• chocolate outer ring, vanilla middle ring, strawberry center
• vanilla outer ring, strawberry middle ring, chocolate center
• strawberry outer ring, chocolate middle ring, vanilla center

For Layering & Assembly of Cake

Simple Syrup:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream

Strawberry Buttercream:
1 1.2-ounce package freeze dried strawberries
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5-6 tablespoons heavy cream

Chocolate Buttercream:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
6 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream

Make the simple syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Make the vanilla buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

Make the strawberry buttercream. In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, beat in confectioner’s sugar, strawberry powder, and salt. Mixture may be alarmingly crumbly—this is normal. Add vanilla and 5 tablespoons of heavy cream. Beat until very fluffy, about 2 minutes. If desired, mix in another tablespoon of heavy cream until the proper consistency is reached.

Make the chocolate buttercream. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy (about two minutes). Beat in confectioner’s sugar, followed by cocoa powder and salt, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in vanilla and heavy cream. Beat on high for 1-2 minutes, until very fluffy.

Place the layer with the chocolate outer ring on a serving plate or cake stand. Brush with simple syrup. Top with a thin layer of vanilla buttercream. Place the layer with the vanilla outer ring on top. Brush with simple syrup. Top with a thin layer of vanilla buttercream. Place the layer with the strawberry outer ring on top. Brush with simple syrup. Frost the entire cake with a very thin layer of vanilla buttercream (a “crumb coat”). Refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 1 day.

Load remaining vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate buttercreams into piping bags (or ziplocks with smalls corners snipped off). Remove the cake from the refrigerator.

To decorate the cake as pictured, working with one buttercream at a time, pipe a ring of dollops around the entire bottom of the cake. Use the back of an offset spatula to press into each dollop and drag upward to create a “ruffle” effect, wiping clean as needed. Use another buttercream to make a ring of dollops above the first (now-ruffled), and repeat the same pressing/dragging method to create the same pattern. Use the remaining color of buttercream, and continue the method, alternating in a pattern until you have frosted your way up the cake, onto the top, and to the center.

Slice and serve. Leftover cake may be kept covered at room temperature for up to two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.Neapolitan CakeNeapolitan CakeNeapolitan Cake

Vanilla Malt Magic Bars

Vanilla Malt Magic BarsI must have a thing for sweetened condensed milk right now—this is the third post in a row that requires cracking open a can of the good stuff.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsCan you blame me? It’s just so versatile! If you want something to be smooth, creamy, or structurally sound without a million ingredients, sweetened condensed milk is probably the ingredient you want. See exhibits A, B, and C. And these brownies. And these cookie bars. Oh, and this no-churn ice cream. This one, too.

I told you, I’m a little obsessed.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic BarsSweetened Condensed Milk is probably most popular as the key ingredient in Magic Bars (aka 7 Layer Bars, aka Hello Dollies). In those, it acts as a soft, chewy filling and a vehicle for various chocolate chips, nuts, and coconut. I don’t currently have a recipe for traditional Magic Bars—rest assured, you can find a million of them online—but I have taken the basic formula and put it on a blondie and made two chocolate variations, including Chocolate Malt Magic Bars! Today, I’m taking that recipe and giving it a vanilla malt makeover 😍 Vanilla Malt Magic BarsThat’s right—Vanilla Malt Magic Bars, y’all! They’re soft and chewy with a big vanilla malt flavor and a buttery cookie crumb crust. The filling is studded with white chocolate chips and broken pieces of Golden Oreo, and the tops are ever so slightly crackly thanks to the way sweetened condensed milk caramelizes in the oven.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsThese bars require just seven ingredients and come together quickly and easily…again, because sweetened condensed milk makes things a snap.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsOh, and they stay soft and delicious for days on end because…well, you know.Vanilla Malt Magic Bars

Vanilla Malt Magic Bars
makes 1 8- or 9-inch pan, about 12-16 bars

30 vanilla sandwich cookies (like Golden Oreos), divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup malted milk powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Heavily grease a 9-inch square pan and line with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease again. Set aside.

Place 24 vanilla sandwich cookies the bowl of a food processor and process until pulverized. Add 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. Bake for five minutes, until set. Set crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk in malted milk powder and salt. Mixture will be thick and slightly grainy.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over crust. Use a silicone spatula or the back of a spoon to carefully spread into an even layer.

Break remaining 6 vanilla sandwich cookies into pieces and scatter over sweetened condensed milk mixture, followed by white chocolate chips. Bake for 30-32 minutes, tenting pan with foil at the 10 minute mark. Bars are done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.Vanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic BarsVanilla Malt Magic Bars

Marble Bundt Cake

Marble Bundt CakeOh, hello.Marble Bundt CakeAre you also distracted by the undeniable beauty of this Marble Bundt Cake?Marble Bundt CakeWait til you find out how delicious it is.Marble Bundt CakeAnd how incredibly easy it is to make.Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeOne batter, two bowls, ten minutes to mix 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt CakeA little over an hour in the oven…Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt Cakeand a thick blanket of ganache later…Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt Cakeyou have a Marble Bundt Cake that will put any coffee shop fare to shame. Shame, I tell you.Marble Bundt CakeBetween the dense, buttery crumb…Marble Bundt Cakeand chocolate marbling that actually tastes like chocolate…Marble Bundt Cakeit doesn’t get much better than this.Marble Bundt Cake

Marble Bundt Cake
makes one 10-12 cup capacity bundt cake

Cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup milk (preferably whole), room temperature
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Ganache:
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 325F. Heavily grease a bundt pan with softened butter (or shortening) and dust with flour. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine flour, baking powder, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, salt, butter, eggs, vanilla, and milk in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick. Set aside.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments in the microwave, stirring in between, until melted. This may also be done in a double boiler.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate. Use a fork and/or silicone spatula to combine the two.

Transfer remaining batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Dollop chocolate batter over the top and use a thin knife or skewer to lightly marble it in. Bake 65-75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in several places comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a thin, flexible knife around all exposed edges. Invert cake onto a cooling rack and let cool completely.

Make ganache. Place chopped chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Heat heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it is steaming and bubbles are forming at the edge.

Pour warm cream over chopped chocolate. Do not stir. Cover bowl with a lid or aluminum foil for 5 minutes. Remove lid/foil. Starting in the center of the bowl and stirring your way toward the edge, use a fork to stir until chocolate and cream are combined and smooth.

Place cake (still on the rack) over a rimmed baking sheet.

Spoon/pour ganache over the top. Let set for 15-20 minutes before removing to a serving plate, slicing and serving.

Leftover cake will keep covered at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for up to five.
Marble Bundt CakeMarble Bundt Cake

Neapolitan Shortbread

Neapolitan ShortbreadI have never had many feelings about Neapolitan ice cream—that classic all-in-one combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry—except that I’d probably prefer a scoop of vanilla with sprinkles instead.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread, though, are a different story. I saw a few recipes for them while scrolling through Pinterest a few weeks ago and thought they were super cute with their different colored stripes. I just had to make them, if only to make the world’s most adorable ice cream sandwiches. Neapolitan ShortbreadI clicked on a link and saw, to my utter (and definitely over-the-top) horror, that the layers were all made with one dough, the chocolate portion being mixed with melted chocolate and the pink part being just vanilla with food coloring! I clicked through more links and found a lot more of the same. Some had mixed their pink portion with strawberry jam, but that was even more problematic—it meant that all three portions would have different textures and bake differently. Neapolitan ShortbreadAnd so, I set out to fix this problem. Yes, I know that this “problem” is one I created with my own pickiness, but I don’t care because I believe in cookies that bake evenly and deliver flavors as advertised, damn it! I will not apologize for being a cookie snob. #justiceforstrawberry

Okay, rant over. (Sorry.) Neapolitan ShortbreadI set to work, and it took me five test-batches, but y’all, these Neapolitan Shortbread are fantastic. They’ve got bold colors and big flavors and they bake evenly and they are shockingly easy to make.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadEach layer is made from its own quick, simple dough, all three of which can be made in the same bowl in under twenty minutes. Here’s the rundown:

  • the chocolate dough is made with cocoa powder and a hint of espresso.
  • the vanilla dough is made with vanilla (duh) and a touch of almond extract.
  • the strawberry is made with pulverized freeze-dried strawberries (a la these) and a few drops of food coloring to keep the pink portion vibrant while baking.

Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadAll the doughs are all pressed together in a wax paper-lined loaf pan and chilled until hard. Then the edges are trimmed off, the dough is cut into two long pieces, and each one is sliced into cookies. I ❤ ❤ ❤ a slice & bake recipe! Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread bake at a low temperature for 17-18 minutes. The cookies will be a little soft coming out of the oven, but should set up quickly. They’ll be crisp at the edges, slightly chewy in the centers, and oh, so buttery. Neapolitan ShortbreadThese cookies are as delicious as they are beautiful, with plenty of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry flavors in every bite! And that’s to say nothing of the bright, bold colors—I just love that berry pink!Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadOh, and I was right. They do make adorable ice cream sandwiches 🙂 Neapolitan Shortbread

Neapolitan Shortbread
makes about 6.5 dozen cookies

Chocolate Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup cocoa powder (natural or dutch process)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon espresso granules (optional)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Vanilla Dough:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Strawberry Dough:
1 cup freeze dried strawberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3-5 drops liquid red food coloring (or 1 drop red gel food coloring), optional
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Line a 9×5-inch loaf pan with wax paper, leaving a couple of inches of overhang on the sides. Set aside.

Make the chocolate dough. In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla. Add cocoa powder, flour, espresso granules and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Dough will look crumbly, but should pinch together very easily. Press chocolate dough into a mostly-even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate while you make the vanilla dough. Wipe down beaters and bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and optional almond extract, followed by flour and salt. Press vanilla dough into a mostly-even layer over the top of the chocolate dough. Refrigerate while you make the strawberry dough. Wipe down beaters and bowl.

Combine freeze dried strawberries and sugar in a food processor* and blitz until they are a powder. Transfer to mixing bowl. Add butter and use an electric mixer to beat it together until fluffy. Mix in vanilla and red food coloring, followed by flour and salt. Dough may be crumbly, but should hold together very well when pinched. Press strawberry dough into a mostly-even layer on top of the vanilla dough. Fold wax paper overhang over the top of the dough. Refrigerate for 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 300F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Remove dough from refrigerator. Unfold wax paper overhang and use it to lift dough brick onto a cutting board. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim the edges (which can be cut into rectangles and baked into cookies). Slice rectangle down the middle lengthwise so that you have two long, skinny rectangles of dough. Refrigerate one rectangle.

Slice rectangle into 1/4-inch slices, placing them at least 1 1/2-inches apart on prepared pans. If dough gets too warm, refrigerate full pans for 5 minutes before baking.

Bake cookies for 9 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake an additional 8-9 minutes, until no longer wet looking. Shortbread should not turn golden. Let cool on the pans for 7 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat slicing and baking processes with remaining dough, letting pans return to room temperature between batches.

Neapolitan Shortbread will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week. They will soften slightly over time.Neapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan ShortbreadNeapolitan Shortbread