I have done it! I have officially made my husband the happiest man ever! Supposedly. And with only a few minor changes he has requested. I KNOW! He is so difficult! :) I also think I would have made my Italian MIL proud today too.
I spent about 9.5 hours working on my labor of love today. Of course, there were breaks in between, but 9.5 from start to finish. All the blood, sweat and tears went into my first time cooking 7 Layer Italian Cookies. Apparently, if you are Italian and/or from New York, you know what these are. I had never heard of them before. My husband has sung their praises since we first started dating. As is already known, we spent the last weekend in NY and NJ visiting friends and family. Hubs made the point to search out an italian cookie so I could taste it for the first time.
First of all, the name bothers the heck out of me. They are not cookies. They are a cake. Certainly no normal cake, but still, cake. It is a cake made with almond paste and a lot of eggs and butter. You bake the cake in three layers and between them, layer apricot preserves. Then put a layer of chocolate on the top and bottom. If only it were really that easy (okay, it really wasn’t THAT hard)!
I do, though, only recommend making these yourself if you 1) LOVE them and everything else almond flavored in this world 2) Have an Italian husband who LOVES them.
I searched through the recipes online and found a fantastic one with step by step directions at epicurious.com, so I am not going to put too many details here. However, I want to include a few things and pictures of what I encountered on the way.
After following the directions of how to mix the cake, the recipe calls for you to spread each of the portions out on a piece of buttered wax paper in a 9 x 13 pan. First – I forgot to butter the wax paper literally EVERY time and had to redo it. What a waste of wax paper! Then, I definitely used the wrong spatula to spread the batter. The one pictured is the correct style to use! Then, this picture here was taken before I put the pan in the oven. Well, I was having a serious moment and forgot to take the spatula out of the pan before putting it in the oven. It baked exactly like you see in the picture! Woops!!! I was able to salvage it though. Since it was a metal spatula, it didn’t do too much harm!
Next, the recipe calls for you to layer the cake with the apricot preserves. That was my husband’s first problem…I didn’t heat and strain the preserves and he said the cookie tasted more like apricot than it should. Sorry babe! I promise not to cut corners next time! After layering, you are supposed to wrap the combined cake in plastic wrap and put it in the frige for at least 8 hours. To keep the layers even it is recommended that you weight the cake. I put a 9 x 13 pan on top of the wrapped cake and placed a bunch of cans in it to weigh the cake down. It worked perfectly. The cake came out nice and compact and even.
This is what the cake looked like after it was set and I trimmed the edges, right before adding the chocolate. This brings me to Hubb’s second problem. He was not happy with the use of bittersweet chocolate and thinks it should be milk chocolate. I think he’s wrong. I am fairly sure the one I tried up North was made with bittersweet. I’ll try milk chocolate next time to make him happy though!
The cakes were very yummy, very almond and apricot tasting, and very 7 layer Italian Cookie! Good luck if you take this on and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!