Italian Tricolors

Over the next couple of days, I'm going to be putting up recipes without any background stories or anecdotes. I've just been so busy with life that I haven't had any time to blog lately. I have had some time to bake though, and this recipe from Good Housekeeping: Brownies! is a perfect example of my baking. "These pretty bars, featuring the colors of the Italian flag, are often found in Italian bakeries. When Food Appliances Director Sharon Franke wanted to bake her favorite cookies at home, the Good Housekeeping test kitchen developed this recipe especially for her."

Italian Tricolors
*makes 36 bars*

1 tube (7 to 8 oz) almond paste, broken into small pieces
3/4 cup butter, 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 apricot preserves
3 oz semisweet chocolate
1 tsp vegetable shortening

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 8-inch square disposable baking pans. Line bottoms of pans with waxed paper; grease and flour waxed paper.
2) In large bowl, with mixer at medium-high speed, beat almond paste, 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) Transfer one-third of batter to small bowl. Transfer half of remaining batter to another small bowl. Stir red food coloring into one bowl of batter until evenly blended. Repeat with green food coloring and another bowl of batter, leaving one bowl untinted.
4) Spoon untinted batter into one prepared pan. With metal spatula, spread batter evenly (layer will be about 1/4 inch thick). Repeat with red batter in second pan. Repeat with green batter in remaining pan.
5) Bake until layers are set and toothpick inserted in center of layers comes out clean, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pans between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking.
6) Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Run thin knife around sides of pans to loosen layers. Invert layers onto racks, leaving waxed paper attached; cool completely.
7) When layers are cool, press apricot preserves through coarse sieve into small bowl to remove any large pieces of fruit. Remove waxed paper from green layer. Invert green layer onto flat plate or small cutting board; spread with half of apricot preserves. Remove waxed paper from untinted layer; invert onto green layer. Spread with remaining apricot preserves. Remove waxed paper from red layer; invert onto untinted layer.
8) In 1-quart saucepan, heat chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring frequently, until melted. Spread melted chocolate mixture on top of red layer (not on sides); refrigerate until chocolate is firm, at least 1 hour. If you like, after chocolate has set, cover and refrigerate stacked layers up to 3 days before cutting and serving.
9) To serve, with serrated knife, trim edges (about 1/4 inch from each side). Cut stacked layers into 6 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 6 pieces.

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