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Gourmet Magazine and cookies

on serving tray

These unique and pretty Christmas cookies are from the December 2005 edition of Gourmet Magazine. Speaking of Gourmet, its final issue is this month, November 2009. After 68 years, like so many other publications, it is now a thing of the past. What led to Gourmet’s demise? Even with nearly 1 million subscribers, who looked forward to the fantastic articles, recipes, and pictures each month, the magazine fell victim to a decline in ad sales due to popular television food shows and online recipe sites, like its own Epicurious.com, taking up its former advertising revenue.  Upon the announcement, on October 5, 2009, The Wall Street Journal said it was “like a giant soufflé falling.”  I have to agree, Gourmet was the first food magazine I subscribed to, some 27 years ago.  I kept every one of those issues until just a couple of summers ago, when I donated some 300 issues of Gourmet and nearly 1000 issues of Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Saveur, Cook’s Illustrated, Cooking Light, and Martha Stewart Living to the Culinary Program at Scottsdale Community College.  It took two trips in my SUV because of the extreme weight and mass! Gourmet was the granddaddy of them all and it will be sadly missed by foodies worldwide.

Seven Layer Christmas Cookie Bars

4 large eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 (8-oz) can of almond paste
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
25 drops red food coloring
25 drops green food coloring
1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.

Beat whites in a very clean bowl of a standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.

Switch to the paddle attachment, (no need to wash the bowl) then beat together almond paste and remaining 3/4 cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.

Stir half of the egg white mixture into the almond mixture to lighten, then fold in the remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

3 bowls

Divide batter evenly among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Pour green batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly with an offset spatula (the layer will be about 1/4 inch thick).

Bake green layer for 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook.)

Using paper overhang to pull the layer out of the pan, transfer the layer to a rack to cool, for about 10 minutes.  Clean pan, then line with wax paper and butter paper in the same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set.  Transfer the white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake red layer in the same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.

When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from the layer and spread with half of the warm apricot preserves. Invert white on top of the green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert the red layer on top of the white layer and discard wax paper.


Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan and a large (coffee table-size) book placed on top of the pan.  Chill for at least 8 hours.

Remove weight and plastic wrap. Melt chocolate in a double boiler, or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, or in a microwave, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat.

rough edges trimmed and spreading with melted chocolate

rough edges trimmed and spread with melted chocolate

Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of the chocolate in a thin layer on the red-colored top of the cake. Chill, uncovered until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert the cake onto the sheet and remove the top layer of paper. If chocolate has cooled and firmed up, reheat until warm. Quickly spread the green layer with the remaining chocolate. Chill uncovered for 5 minutes to just allow chocolate to set. Remove from refrigerator and use parchment paper to move to a cutting board. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips. Score the strips crosswise into sixteen bars from each strip, for a total of 64 bars. (see picture below) Fill a tall pitcher or vase with hot water. Cut strips crosswise on the scored markers, dipping the knife into hot water and wiping clean and dry with a paper towel between each cut.

left half is scored, right half is cut. hot water in pitcher to clean knife between cuts

the left half is scored, right half is cut. hot water in a pitcher to clean the knife between cuts

(Cookies keep, layered between sheets of wax or parchment paper, in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 weeks)

layered between sheets of parchment in a tin for storage

layered between sheets of parchment, in a tin for storage

Makes 64 bars

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1 Marissa { 11.08.09 at 4:28 PM }

How sad for the magazine =(

2 Linda Hopkins { 11.08.09 at 8:42 PM }

I know it is really, really sad for the publishing world!

3 lorie clark { 11.10.09 at 12:28 AM }

Oh my gosh, over 1000 issues~!! Did you actually count them?? BTW the cookies are beautiful……

4 Linda Hopkins { 11.10.09 at 7:20 AM }

Hi Lorie, can’t wait to see you in a few weeks for Thanksgiving! Yes, sadly I did count them, what else you gonna do as you’re loading them into the back of the car?! And, I knew you’ld love these cookies, they are exactly your style!

5 world’s best — Les Petites Gourmettes { 06.19.10 at 10:28 AM }

[…]  I’ve been making them for nearly 20 years – ever since I first spotted the recipe in Gourmet Magazine (RIP) in November, 1991. I’ve tweaked the recipe over those years, not the ingredients – […]

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