Tag Archives: almond flour

Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesI had never seen Italian Rainbow Cookies (aka Seven Layer Cookies) until I moved to New York. Come to find, they are everywhere here. I mean everywhere. Little Italy (duh), bakeries, bodegas, bagel shops, grocery stores—everywhere. I can’t go a day without seeing these festive Italian-American confections, and yet, it took me eleven years to try one.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesWhat can I say? Almond cake, jam, chocolate, food coloring—Italian Rainbow Cookies are kind of a lot. Even when I did finally try one, I wasn’t a huge fan. Most of the versions you see in NYC are mass-produced, and while they are ostensibly fine, they’re nothing to write home about. Dry, too dense, probably full of stuff that wouldn’t go in a homemade cake…Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesAll that is to say that homemade Italian Rainbow Cookies are where it’s at. Sure, they take a little more effort than popping down to the corner store and handing over some cash, but they are also infinitely better, and you don’t have to put on a coat to make them.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesMost Italian Rainbow Cookies are made from a standard torte batter that’s spiked with almond paste. Mine are different though, relying on almond flour instead. These cookies are grain-free—inclusive baking for the win!Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFor the colorful layers, I used my Flourless Almond Cake recipe as a starting point, doubled the batch, then tweaked it to use softened butter, and added almond paste and a bit of baking powder.

Once the batter is mixed up, it’s divided into three portions. One is dyed red (I like mine a bit pink), another is dyed green, and the third is left plain. They’re each baked for 10 minutes and will look super underdone when they’re ready, but a toothpick inserted in the centers should come out clean.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesThe layers are very thin and will cool quickly. Once you can handle them, spread two of them with jam and stack ‘em up so they resemble the Italian flag. Then put them in your refrigerator and weigh ‘em down for several hours. I like to leave mine in the fridge overnight—you want those layers to become besties for the resties.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesOnce the chill time is up, give each side a good swipe of dark chocolate and a chill, and then slice them into as many pieces as you like. The cookies here are 1 1/2”x1” with the total count coming out to 49. That’s enough to keep some, gift some, and still have a few to leave for Santa!Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesI know this all sounds like a lot of work, but it really happens very quickly and is pretty simple. The most taxing part is making the batter (whipped egg whites alert!) and that’s really no problem. Really, the biggest obstacles between you and a batch of homemade Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies are time and fridge space.

If you can’t find either of those things between now and Christmas, don’t worry. New Yorkers eat them all year round, and you can, too.Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies {Grain-Free}
makes one 9×13 pan, 4-5 dozen cookies

6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 cups blanched almond flour (measured by spoon & level)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5-6 drops red gel food coloring (liquid will work)
5 drops green gel food coloring (liquid will work)

For assembly:
1 10-ounce jar jam (raspberry and apricot are traditional)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Read this recipe before proceeding. None of the steps are difficult, but there are a lot of them. The active work time for this recipe is between 2-3 hours, and there is one 4 hour chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3* 9×13-inch pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Separate egg yolks from whites. Set whites aside in a very clean, dry bowl.

Pour sugar into a large mixing bowl. Pinch almond paste into small pieces. Turn your mixer to low and allow to mix until the largest pieces of almond paste are the size of small peas. Add butter and mix until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined. Add half the almond flour, the baking powder and salt, and beat until combined. Mix in remaining almond flour. If using a stand mixer, transfer batter to a separate bowl.

Wash and dry mixer attachments, along with a medium mixing bowl. I also like to wipe down the equipment with vinegar, just to ensure that everything is completely clean before I add the egg whites. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Transfer egg whites to the very clean, dry medium mixing bowl. Use the very clean, dry electric mixer to whip them until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture. Gently fold half the remaining egg whites into the mixture, followed by the other half.

Divide batter into three bowls (about 1 1/4 cups batter in each). Leave one plain, dye one pink(red, and dye the remaining one green.

Taking care to wipe down silicone spatulas, spoons, etc., between colors, transfer batters to the three pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth batter to the edges of the pans, taking care to wipe it clean between colors.

Bake the pink/red and plain layers for 10-11 minutes. They will look underdone, but a toothpick inserted in the centers should come out clean. Let cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Bake the green layer for 10-11 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Prepare the jam. Transfer jam to a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds and stir to see if it’s loose enough to sieve. If not, microwave in 15 second increments until it is (it shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds).

Place a wire mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl. Pour warm jam into the sieve and use a spoon to press it through. Discard solids.

Assemble layers. Top the pinkish-red layer (still on the rack) with a piece of parchment. Top with a cutting board or sheet pan (top side down) over the parchment. Use both hands to grab the rack/layer/board situation and invert. Remove rack and discard pinkish-red layer’s baking parchment. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of strained jam over the entire layer.

Carefully invert plain layer over the pinkish-red layer. Peel off and discard plain layer’s baking parchment. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of jam over the entire layer.

Carefully invert green layer over the green layer over the plain layer. Peel off and discard green layer’s baking parchment. Replace with a new sheet of parchment. Place a rimmed sheet pan over the top of the parchment.

Set this entire contraption in the refrigerator. Place a few canned goods in the sheet pan to weigh down the layers. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Remove layers contraption from refrigerator. Remove weight, sheet pan and parchment over the green layer. Use a serrated knife to slice off a thin edge all the way around.

Prepare the chocolate. Combine chopped bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until smooth.

Spoon half the chocolate over the green layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth it just to the edges. Use the cutting board (or sheet pan) under the layers to transfer them to the freezer* for 10 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

Remove layers from freezer. Top chocolate with a sheet of parchment. Top with a cutting board (or sheet pan) over the parchment. Use both hands to grab the cutting boards on both sides of the layers. Holding them tightly, invert. Remove cutting board and discard parchment over the pinkish-red layer.

If chocolate has cooled too much, reheat for 10-15 seconds. Spoon remaining chocolate over the pinkish-red layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth it just to the edges. Use the cutting board (or sheet pan) under the layers to transfer them to the freezer* for 10 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

Slice cookies into 1 1/2×1-inch pieces. I use a serrated knife, but press directly down instead of sawing. Wipe down knife between cuts.

Serve cookies. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container container in the refrigerator for several days. Put wax paper between layers of cookies to prevent sticking.

Note:

If you do not have 3 9×13-inch pans, you may bake the layers one at a time, washing and drying the pans between layers. Cover any batter with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until you need it.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeWhen you make as many layer cakes as I do, it’s inevitable that someone will ask you to make a gluten-free or vegan one, or one that is both of those things. I used to fear these requests and turn them down across the board, but as time has gone on, I’ve gained confidence, learned new skills, and befriended my NYC ride-or-die, VJ, who just so happens to be a gluten-free vegan. I’m not saying I’m fearless now, but I am saying that I make a hell of a Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIt all started with The Minimalist Baker’s genius 1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake, which I made for VJ’s birthday last winter. That recipe’s major appeal is that it’s ridiculously easy—it doesn’t require making flax eggs or using a complicated gluten-free flour blend, instead relying on blanched almond flour, a mix of potato starch and cornstarch, unsweetened applesauce and leaveners. The results are soft, moist, and delicious. I would have been content to only make that cake for my gluten-free vegan friends forever…but then another friend requested a chocolate version for their birthday last May. And so, here we are.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis triple-layered chocolate masterpiece is gluten-free and vegan, yes, but also moist and tender and chocolaty AF—exactly what you want in a layer cake, gluten-free and vegan or not. I used Dana’s (The Minimalist Baker) Vanilla Cake formula as a starting place for the batter, relying on almond flour and potato starch for structure, and swapping in natural unsweetened cocoa powder instead of cornstarch. I’ve traded the applesauce for pure pumpkin purée, mostly because I almost always have a can of pumpkin and almost never have applesauce. The remaining ingredients are the usual baking powder and soda, granulated sugar, salt, and a mixture of almond milk and vinegar, which acts as a vegan buttermilk swap. I also add a little granulated espresso to accentuate the chocolate flavor.

You’ll notice that there is no added fat in the cake batter—this is because there is plenty in the blanched almond flour. In combination with the moisture from the pumpkin and soured almond milk, this cake always turns out soft and springy.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeIf you’re looking at this list of ingredients and wondering where to find them, the answer is almost any well-stocked grocery store. Blanched almond flour is available at Trader Joe’s and Costco, as well as my local supermarket. Potato starch is usually in the specialty flours section or the Kosher foods aisle.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeAs for the swoopy, pipeable Vegan Chocolate Buttercream…well, first of all, good luck not just eating it straight from the bowl. It’s as flavorful and creamy as traditional chocolate buttercream, thanks to a base of equal parts vegan butter and coconut oil-based shortening, along cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeI recommend using shortening in vegan buttercream for the textural magic it works in the absence of dairy butter. Shortening is a polarizing ingredient, to be sure, but it’s what makes this butterless buttercream so incredibly luxurious and pipeable. I am a fan of Nutiva’s coconut oil formula, but I’ve used regular Crisco in a pinch with good results. If you are anti-shortening, feel free to swap in an equal amount of vegan butter—I’ve been using Miyoko’s lately and totally love it. With an all-vegan-butter frosting, your results may be a little less fluffy than mine, but I promise they will still be delicious. We’re talking about chocolate frosting here—how could it be anything but wonderful?!Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeThis buttercream recipe makes a lot—enough to fill and frost a cake and then pipe it to the gills! I have had no problem finding things to do with any leftovers (vegan buttercream candies, anyone?), but if you’d like to do a naked cake or have less frosting around, feel free to halve the ingredients.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeBut really, is there such a thing as too much chocolate frosting on a chocolate cake? I don’t think so, especially on one like this that can feed nearly all my friends! This vegan, gluten-free dessert is as delicious and beautiful as it is inclusive. Heck, that in itself is almost enough reason to make one.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake

Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake
adapted from The Minimalist Baker

makes one 3-layer 9-inch round cake

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
~2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons potato starch
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon granulated espresso
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

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

Pour apple cider vinegar into a liquid measuring cup. Add almond milk until liquid reaches the 2 cup mark. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until curdled. Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together blanched almond flour, potato starch, cocoa powder, granulated sugar, granulated espresso, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add liquid ingredients in two installments, whisking until combined.

Divide batter among prepared pans and smooth with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap each pan on the counter 5 times to release any large air bubbles. Transfer to the oven and bake 32-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each layer comes out with only a few crumbs.

Let layers cool completely in their pans on cooling racks. Run a thin, flexible knife around their edges before inverting to release. Fill and frost as desired with Vegan Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below).

Frosted cake will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days and refrigerated for up to 4. Unfrosted layers may be triple-wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before frosting.

Vegan Chocolate Buttercream
makes enough for a 3-layer 9-inch round cake with piping

4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups natural unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
8 ounces (1 cup) vegan butter, room temperature (I like Miyoko’s)
8 ounces (1 cup) shortening, room temperature (I like Nutiva)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine confectioners sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat vegan butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Mix in dry ingredients in three installments, mixing until combined and fluffy. Mix in vanilla.

Use to frost layer cakes, as a sandwich cookie filling, or to make vegan buttercream candies.Gluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate CakeGluten-Free Vegan Chocolate Cake