11 December, 2019
Icebox Spumoni Cookies
Most of the cookies I’ve been making this holiday season have been either family favorites that date back to at least when I was a kid or they were requested by people dear to me. These ones, though, are a different kind of nostalgia hit for me.
My dad loves spumoni, which is a style of gelato that’s served, traditionally, in slices containing three different flavor layers. It also kind of looks like an Italian flag. Out here in Idaho, where I am now, there aren’t many Italians, and the cultural presence that I was so used to back in New York is nowhere to be found. I made these as an homage to my heritage, and I’m really pleased with how they turned out.
I did have an issue with the cherry layer getting a little wet, but if I’d done a better job of drying the maraschinos before chopping them up and I maybe hadn’t chopped them so finely, it probably would have been less of an issue. You could also use candied cherries, which are more syrupy than juicy, but the flavor won’t be quite as strong. To compensate for the extra moisture, I just added in extra flour a tablespoon at a time until the dough was dry (not sticky) enough that I could work with it without wearing it.
1 cup Butter, salted and softened
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Almond extract
1/2 tsp Baking soda
2 3/4 cups Flour
1/3 cup Pistachios, shelled, rinsed, dried, and finely chopped
4-6 drops Green gel food coloring
1/3 cup Maraschino cherries, drained, dried, and coarsely chopped
3-4 drops Red gel food coloring
In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar and whip them until they’re fluffy. Add in the egg and the almond extract before mixing in the flour and baking soda. The dough should come together into a nice consistency, similar to fresh Play-Doh.
Divide the batter into three even portions and set two of them aside. Take the remaining third and fold in your pistachios and green food coloring. Remember that, with gel food coloring, a little goes a LONG way, so start with a small amount and add a bit more at a time until you get the color you like.
Line a bread pan with plastic wrap, leaving extra wrap hanging over the sides. Flatten out the green pistachio dough and lay it in the pan. Spread it out as evenly as possible and fill the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes. When it’s done chilling, do the same thing with a second third of the dough to form the middle, white layer. Return the pan to the freezer for another 10 minutes.
While the dough is chilling for a second time, make your cherry layer with the remaining third of dough. Remember to start with only a little food coloring and gradually add more. Note that if you finely chop the cherries, they might make the dough sticky. If this happens, just add more flour one tablespoon at a time until you can just work with it without it making a sticky mess.
Once you’ve added the cherry layer to the top, fold the extra plastic wrap over your dough and place the pan in the fridge to chill either overnight or for about 4 hours.
When you’re ready to get baking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets. Remove your block of dough from the pan and set it on a cutting board. Slice the dough as if it were bread, cutting off 1/4 – 1/2 inch slices. Cut each slice into thirds and lay them on your baking sheets about an inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, rotating top and bottom racks halfway through. Cool on the pan for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.