a sweet return

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Whew! We have been missing in action over here, but not for the wrong reasons. Every winter this point in the semester seems inevitable – the weather remains stubbornly cold, cloudy heads and stuffy noses come and never seem to go, classes begin to drag. I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve generally been exhausted and/or cold for the past few weeks. But it looks like the sun is out today, I’m taking the morning off, and we have spring vacation in a week. To Paris! To Greece! To Berlin! To New Orleans! The five of us will be around the world in a matter of time, and hopefully writing about it here. And on the topic of worldliness, I have Italian cookies to share with you.

I grew up with these cookies. We’ve always called them petit fours, but they’re known more specifically as Italian Rainbow Cookies. This was one of my Nana’s famous recipes, which my mother took with her to Colorado, where I grew up. These cookies have gained a small, but feverishly loyal following back home, and a group of us are usually forced to wait until Christmas to eat them. (Petit fours, along with my father’s almond moon cookies, are strictly Christmas cookies in my mind. There’s something to be said for making wonderful recipes only once a year.) My mother was recently in the city to celebrate her 50th birthday, and we made them together for the blog. Although it wasn’t Christmas time, we were back in my Nana’s kitchen, making a traditional recipe she’s given to our family and friends hundreds of miles away in Denver. The recipe’s all yours. You’re allowed to make them more than once a year, but these are the type of cookies that take a lot of time and love. Enjoy.

Nana’s Petit Fours

2 sticks butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

1 cup flour

10 oz semi-sweet or darn chocolate, chopped. (You know me. I say go for dark.)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

liquid food coloring

1/4 cup apricot preserves and 1/4 cup raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth.  Add the eggs and beat until combined, then add flour and beat just until incorporated into the mixture. Separate the batter in 3 one-cup portions. To each cup of batter, add 6 drops of food coloring, (typically red, green and yellow) for each layer of the traditional rainbow cookies. (We did pink and white for Valentines Day.)

Put each cup of batter in its own 8 inch square pan. (Make sure each pan is well greased and floured!) Bake each at 375 degrees for 12 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack. When cool, spread one layer with the apricot preserves, one layer with raspberry preserves and leave one layer dry. Stack the frosted layers and put the dry layer on top.

Melt chocolate with oil in a glass bowl in microwave 30 seconds, stir well, and microwave another 30 seconds.  Cut cookies into 4 equal strips. (Trim edges, if desired, for easier icing). Ice each cookie strip with the melted chocolate on each side. Chill in the freezer on foil strips for at least 30 minutes. When the chocolate is firm, you may wrap the cookie strips for later use, or slice the strips into one-half inch slices.

We usually sprinkle the cookies to death before we freeze them, but this time we decided to do some Valentine’s Day-centric designs on the cookies with frosting. Here’s my mom working her cookie magic:

Yum. As my grandpa would say, “Salute!”

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3 Responses to “a sweet return”

  1. HerbalGourmet Says:

    Excellent recipe~ and photos. I made them and will do so again as my Christmas cookie..Bon Appetite!

  2. Mom Says:

    Thanks Em! Nana would be very proud. Love you.

  3. Jerry Nonko Says:

    Rocky is an internet sensation!

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