Cookie Fail (and Some Success): Seven-Layer Cookies

Maybe it’s because I’m tired.  Maybe it’s because I’m preoccupied with the final paper I’m working on. Maybe it’s because the graduate school gods frowned upon my decision to take a break from paper-writing to bake cookies and they decided to punish me.  Maybe subconsciously I frowned upon my decision to take a break from paper-writing and sabotaged myself. I’m not sure what other explanation there could be for messing up a cookie recipe that I have successfully made in the past.

So, the Seven-Layer Cookies from featured in the December 2005 issue of Gourmet are supposed to look like  this:

Photo from Epicurious

Mine looked like this:

Fail.

Lesson learned: there is a fine line between undercooked and raw.  (Note: the wax paper is crumbled because I actually had already thrown this in the trashcan.  Then I decided it was worth documenting.)

Okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration.  Only about half of the cookies looked like that.  The rest looked like this:

That’s better.

I hope I haven’t scared you away from making these cookies.  They are time-consuming, but they really are not difficult (and the majority of the time is inactive).  And, they are delicious.  The almond-flavored cookies, with chocolate, apricot, and raspberry, are a wonderful blend of flavors. And assuming that you don’t mess up and have to throw away half of them, it yields a ton, so the time investment is completely worth it.

I’m not going to take the time to write out the whole recipe here. It’s rather lengthy, since there are a lot of steps, and I trust that my readers are bright enough to understand clicking on this link, which will take you to the original recipe. Plus, I don’t want to take more time away from my term paper and risk further angering the graduate school gods.

Before I go write about plans for data analyses, I will leave you with these suggestions, based on my own experience:

  • The recipe calls for an 8 oz can of almond paste.  Every time I have made this, I have only been able to find 7 oz tubes.  This works just fine.  If you’re concerned it won’t be almond-y enough, you could always add a tiny splash of extra almond extract, but I don’t think that’s necessary.
  • Instead of using apricot preserves for both fruit layers, I used apricot for one layer and raspberry jam (seedless) for the other.  Just cut back to a half of a 12 oz jar for each. I like to use the raspberry between the red and white layers and the apricot between the white and green, but that’s just my weird thing with matching colors.
  • If you have three, or even two, 9 x 13 baking pans, you can cut down on the time, since you don’t have to wait for the pan to cool between baking the layers.
  • Undercooked means it should be set (as in, if you touch it, batter should not come off on your finger), but not firm.  This was the mistake I made this time.  I thought the red layer maybe could have stayed in for another minute or two, and it became evident that was true when I inverted it onto the white and the underside was totally raw.  I tried sticking the assembled cake and fruit layers in the oven to bake the red more, but it didn’t seem to work.  After letting it sit in the fridge overnight and applying the chocolate layers, I cut into the middle and it was a gloopy, gooey mess.  Disappointing. Fortunately the outside was fine, so it wasn’t a total waste.
  • Wait to trim the edges until after you’ve added the chocolate layers.  That way you don’t need to worry about chocolate dripping over the edge.
  • I know they say to use a serrated knife, but that makes it difficult to clean the knife between cuts (towel fibers getting caught in the teeth). I’ve found that running a Santoku knife under hot water and wiping it off between every cut gives me clean lines and minimizes the chocolate cracking.
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