Rainy day rainbows

Rainy weather has a beautiful side too, rainbows.

The colorful arc spanning the sky is an optical illusion but could be the inspiration for a cooking project. And, it could be a nice lesson.

Rainbows are an optical and meteorological phenomenon. A spectrum of light appears in the sky when the sun shines on droplets of moisture, like rain, in the atmosphere. It’s a simple system: Rain and sunshine make pretty colors which always appear directly opposite of the sun.

Although there are many types of rainbows, the one seen most often has red on the upper part and violet on the inner portion. When a double rainbow occurs – a second arc seen above and outside the first arc – the colors are reversed. Dark skies as a backdrop create the most luminous rainbows.

Rainbows can also be seen near waterfalls and fountains. Sometimes, rainbows can be seen on sunny days when there just happens to be lots of water droplets in the sky.

Or, an easier option is making the rainbow at home! You can make this as cookies. Or, for a cake, assemble it until the point where you’re about to frost it. Then, cut in half, put one half on top of the other and then frost.

Ingredients
12 ounces (3 sticks) butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs, separated
10 ounces almond paste, roughly chopped
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
Red, green and yellow food coloring
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream, for cake version only
1/2 to 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam
1/2 to 3/4 cup apricot preserves

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour three 9- by 13-inch baking pans. Line each with parchment or wax paper, then butter and flour the base again.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, egg yolks and almond paste until fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Make sure everything is incorporated, and there are no chunks of almond paste. (Or, whisk together the mixture by hand or an egg beater.)
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder. With the mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture to the bowl in batches, scraping down the sides occasionally. Transfer the dough to a large bowl, and clean the mixer bowl.
  4. In the clean mixer bowl, beat the egg whites with the whisk attachment until they hold soft peaks. (Or, whisk by hand.) Gradually fold the whites into the butter mixture, 1/3 at a time. Don’t overwork it – you want it to be incorporated, but as light as possible.
  5. Separate the mixture evenly into three small mixing bowls. Add a few drops of dye into each bowl – one green, one yellow, one red – and mix to incorporate evenly.
  6. Pour each color batter into its own baking pan. Smooth out as best you can, and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.
  7. While the layers cool, prepare the frosting. For cookies, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. For a cake, heat the cream and pour it over the chocolate to make a ganache, stirring until the chocolate melts and the mixture is creamy.
  8. To assemble: Take the green section out of its pan, and spread with raspberry jam. You want an even, thin layer. Add the yellow layer, and top with a layer of apricot jam. Add the red layer. Trim edges with a serrated knife if necessary.
  9. For cookies, pour the melted chocolate over the top and sides, and smooth into a thin layer using a knife or offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or as long as overnight. Cut into bars about 2- by 3-inches.
  10. For the cake, spread the top with ganache and refrigerate for 2 hours so everything firms up. Cut it in half horizontally and layer one half over the other. Finish frosting with the ganache, using a knife or offset spatula to smooth on top and sides. Refrigerate at least 5 hours or overnight.

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