Tammy Comerate

Italian Tricolor

1 can 8 oz. Almond Paste, broken into pieces
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
15 drops red food coloring
15 drops green food coloring
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves
6 oz. semi-sweet choc chips
1 tsp. vegetable shortening
Chocolate jimmies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 8" x 8" disposable or metal baking pans. Line bottom of pans with waxed paper; grease and flour waxed paper.

2. In large bowl, with mixer at medium-high speed , beat almond paste with butter, sugar, and almond extract until well blended (there will be some small lumps of almond paste remaining). Reduce speed to medium; beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and salt just until combined.

3. Divide batter equally into bowls (about 1 rounded cup each). Stir in red food coloring in one bowl, green into another. The third bowl remains untinted. Batter will still have small lumps of almond paste in it.

4. Spoon each bowl into a pan. Spread the batters evenly with a metal spatula (offset if possible) Each pan will have a layer about a 1/4 inch thick.

5. Bake layers on two oven racks approx 10 min. rotating pans half way between upper and lower racks. Layers are done when tested with a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

6. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of pans to loosen layers. Invert layers onto racks, leaving waxed paper attached; cool completely.

7. Lay long strips of plastic wrap on top of a cutting board in a cross design. When layers are cool, remove waxed paper from green layer. Invert green layer onto center of plastic wrap. Spread with half of raspberry preserve. Remove waxed paper from untinted layer; invert onto green layer. Spread with remaining raspberry preserves. Remove waxed paper from red layer; invert onto untinted layer. Wrap the tricolor with the plastic wrap until well sealed (use more if necessary). Place either another cutting board or baking sheet on top of tricolor. You need to add a little weight to the top to compress the tricolor slightly (use books or a pan). Let sit for about 6-8 hours.

8. In saucepan, heat chocolate with shortening over low heat until melted; stirring frequently.

9. Place a cookie cooling rack over a baking sheet (to catch dripping chocolate). Unwrap tricolor. With serrated knife trim edges from each side. Cut evenly into 6 strips. Place strips on top of cookie cooling rack. With a metal spatula "frost" the cookie strips with the melted chocolate (top and sides). Sprinkle tops with chocolate jimmies.

10. Refrigerate until firm. Place into an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

11. To serve, cut each strip into 8-10 pieces with a serrated knife.