Almond Rainbow Cookies with Matcha and Cherry (gluten free)
Festive and scrumptious holiday cookies are steeped in memory and tradition. Rainbow cookies are a family favorite (adults and children alike) for their lovely almond flavor and cake like quality. Commercially baked rainbow cookies are made with large amounts of artificial food coloring and flavor, which I very much wanted to avoid. Gluten free versions are frequently made with additional sugar, masking any real flavor and assorted processed starches in place of wheat flour, not benefitting the texture or flavor. My goal was to create a delicious, flavorful and fun holiday cookie using wholesome ingredients for everyone to enjoy!
If you don’t have your holiday baking line up set yet, may I recommend starting here! I developed this recipe for Bake from Scratch Magazine and the Feedfeed for their special co-branded Holiday Cookie Issue. It’s loaded with more than 60 newly developed delicious and creative holiday recipes. It’s really a great issue to add to your cookbook collection. Click this link to order your copy:
I’m especially proud of this one. There are a few steps to go through, but none are complex or difficult. I’ve made so many batches of these now I’ve lost count, and each one a crowd pleaser. I’ll be baking more this Friday and I’m excited to have them on hand! My gluten free blend is made up of a combination of almond, oat and corn flours which add to the their wonderful flavor and texture. The green matcha, cherry filling and dark chocolate play together magically!
HOLIDAY ALMOND RAINBOW COOKIES WITH MATCHA AND CHERRY(gluten free)
The recipe is long and there are several steps, but it’s not difficult. If you have a scale, I recommend using it for accurate results. I’ve listed a few additional tips at the end of the recipe.
Yields: approx. 40- 1”x1 ½ ” cookies
2/3 cup (70 grams) almond flour
½ cup (60 grams) gf oat flour
½ cup (60 grams) gf corn flour (not corn meal, not corn starch)
½ heaping tsp (2 grams) salt
1 cup (200 grams)natural cane sugar
12 Tbs (170 grams) unsalted butter
4 large eggs (200 grams), room temperature, separated
1 scant cup (250 grams) almond paste
1 tsp (4 grams)pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp (1 gram) almond extract (natural)
2 tsps (4 grams) beet root powder (or natural coloring of choice)
2 tsps (4 grams)Matcha (powder)
4-5 drops natural blue food coloring, optional (India Tree and McCormick each make one)
½ cup plus 1 Tbs (175 grams)(sour) cherry preserves
1 heaping cup (180 grams) good quality dark chocolate chunks or chips
1 tsp (5 grams) coconut oil
1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C)
2. Prepare 3- 9"x9"x2”(23cm x 23cm x5cm) baking pans. Grease and line with a generous amount of parchment so each layer is easy to lift out when baked and cooled. Each layer will be thin and slightly fragile. You may also use one pan and bake one layer at a time.
3. Combine almond, oat, corn flour and salt in a bowl. Whisk and set aside.
4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until just before stiff peaks form. Set aside.
5. Cream butter and sugar. Add almond paste, egg yolks, vanilla and almond extract and continue to cream until light and fluffy.
6. By hand, stir in flour mixture until fully combined. Fold in beaten egg whites.
7. Divide batter into three equal parts. Use the weight of the empty mixing bowl to facilitate. You want the batter to be as equally distributed as possible as each layer is quite thin and your goal is to achieve uniform stripes. Set one bowl aside, as this is your natural “white” stripe. Add Matcha and blue food coloring(if using) to second bowl and mix until fully incorporated. Add beet powder to third, also until fully incorporated. Spread each portion into prepared pans, so batter is evenly distributed throughout and tops are as smooth as possible.
8. Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes until a gentle touch to the center slightly springs back and edges have slightly pulled away from the sides.
9. Place on cooling rack for 10 minutes and gently remove from pan using the edges of the parchment to lift. Lay parchment back on cooling rack for another 10-20 minutes, until layers are fully cooled. Remove red layer and place top down (inverted) on a prep surface lined with clean parchment so smooth side is on top. Using an offset spatula, Spread with a thin and even layer of the cherry preserves. Place white layer on top, also inverted,and spread with another thin and even layer of cherry preserves. Top it off with the green layer, also inverted.
10. Cover top and sides with plastic wrap and top with another piece of clean parchment. Place a heavy cookbook (or similar) on top to firmly, but gently weight it down with equally distributed force. Refrigerate for approximately 3hours.
11. Remove book and wrapping, allowing the base layer of parchment to remain. Place on a cutting surface and, using a sharp knife, trim the sides to make straight even edges. Lay fresh piece of parchment on counter (to catch drips) and top with cooling rack. Gently place cake on rack using its parchment base layer.
12. Using a double boiler, melt chocolate, being careful not to overheat, until just melted. Add coconut oil and stir to combine completely. Be careful not to allow any water to splash into the melted chocolate.
13. Carefully pour a stream of chocolate over the top and spread evenly and coat sides. You may apply the traditional wavy lines using the tines of a fork or swirl as you like. Allow coated cake to rest on counter until chocolate has completely cooled and place in refrigerator.
14. When chocolate has set, cover with clean plastic wrap, set on a solid surface or large plate. and place in freezer for about 1 hour or overnight as you want the jam layers to stay in place and not smear, so each cookie has clean cut layers. Cut into equally sized rectangular cookies, using a sharp knife, of about 1" x 1 ½” each.
15. Bring to room temperature, or serve slightly chilled and enjoy!
-Before you begin, weigh your main mixing bowl, and note the weight. You will need to subtract this from the total to divide the batter into equal thirds.
-Choose organic ingredients where possible/available (Bob’s Red Mill is a favorite go-to of mine for flours and grains).
-No need to use pricier ceremonial grade matcha. Culinary or multi-purpose is what you’ll need.
-Matcha (culinary grade) can be a more yellowish green. When this is the case, I like to add a few drops of natural blue food coloring to offset this, but this addition is truly optional.
-If you do not want to use matcha, you may substitute natural green food coloring of choice
-Beet Root Powder and other natural food coloring options available from Amazon, if not carried by your local market or health food store.