For this week’s parsha, rainbow cookies. These are those three-layer mini-cakes also known as Venetians or Italian Flag cookies, except I have created 6 layers, making a real rainbow (okay, there is no indigo, but the other six colors are there).
Is Righteousness Relative? (Harry)
There is a debate as to whether or not the teva was illuminated by a window or a precious stone. In his post, Harry points out that this question can be connected to another debate: was Noach a righteous man by any measure or was his virtue notable only in comparison to those around him? Was he like the stone, only able to illuminate itself, or was he like a window, engaged with the outside world?
The Yeshiva World Vertluch takes on this very question and, citing the Chofetz Chaim, points out that Noach’s greatness was in his ability to ignore his surroundings and not be corrupted.
On the other hand, in the 120 years that Noach spent building the teva, he did not pray for his contemporaries to repent. Yeshiva World Potpourri notes that the Arizal said that Moshe had within him a spark of the soul of Noach, and the 120 years of his selfless existence rectified Noach’s failure to save others of his generation. HaRav Zev Leff points to Sforno for the idea that Noach’s failure was in not teaching his generation to know Hashem by teaching them good middos.
The debate about the stone and the window can also be connected to the rainbow mentioned in the parsha. A precious stone can also function as a prism, while a window does not. The rainbow, with its transformation of light, has been interpreted as a metaphor for the changed relationship between Hashem and people in the post-mabul world (see Chabad and Torah.org). In the pre-mabul world, individuals received divine blessings and simply absorbed them without being able to create and transform (the way that the moisture in the atmosphere, pre-mabul, absorbed light without being able to create a rainbow). In the post-mabul world, people were no longer passive in their relationship with Hashem and had the capacity for renewal, for returning to Hashem after straying away. The analogy is made between a student that merely absorbs like a sponge (pre-mabul) and the student that learns to think creatively and transform (post-mabul).
Rainbow Dessert ideas:
Rainbow Cake: There are a few different ways to do this. My favorite is Not Martha’s version, which makes an actual curved rainbow inside a tube pan cake. You can also make a psychedelic cake by swirling batter, or stack each color separately and frost with white icing. The last idea can be taken to another level by covering it with white fondant and then doodling over it with food coloring markers. You can also make rainbow cake in a jar! The granddaddy (or at least one of the earlier versions) of these kind of cakes is The Grand Canyon Cake from White Trash Cooking (now out in 25th anniversary edition). You frost the cake with chocolate frosting, split it open to look like the Grand Canyon, and then pour over whiskey sauce. Here is what it looks like.
Rainbow Cookies: There are two kinds of rainbow cookies (at least). There are the three-layer Venetians (three layers of cake held together with jam) and there are striped sugar cookies (basically colored version of checkerboard style cookies).
For the cake version of rainbow cookies, there is Carole Walter’s recipe, the Gourmet recipe, Deb’s tweaked version of the Gourmet recipe, and there is the recipe from Torrisi as printed in Bon Appetit Magazine (also here, in New York Magazine, in a larger batch recipe). There is a brand-new cookbook out, Inside the Jewish Bakery, and they have a recipe for rainbow cookies, too. This is the recipe that I worked from.
Rainbow Gelatin Dessert (or Ko-Jel)(see also here). I tried making this and had issues. Part of the problem was that I could only get the flavored Kolatin (kosher gelatin), and only in orange, green and red. For blue, yellow and purple, I used unflavored Ko-jel. The layers kept blending together, but I wasn’t maybe patient enough. Or something. Here is Juggling Frogs way of doing it with Ko-Jel.
Very liberally adapted from Inside the Jewish Bakery.
4 ounces marzipan
2 ounces ground almonds (blanched almonds)
2 ounce sugar
NOTE: the above marzipan, ground almonds and sugar are my substitute for the original recipe’s “1 cup almond paste.”
4 extra-large eggs (original recipe called for 1 cup eggs)
7 ounces or 1 cup Crisco shortening (original recipe called for 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup butter)
1 tsp. kosher salt (original recipe called for 1 tsp. table salt, but I think 1 tsp. kosher salt is plenty)
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract (I added a Tbl. of vanilla sugar, too)
8 ounces all-purpose flour (the original recipe called for 1 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbl. cake flour, which is maybe closer to 7.5 ounces)
food coloring (the original recipe called for 15-20 drops red for the pink layer and the same amount of yellow and green for the other layers; I made six layers and colored them until they looked pretty intense, although the color gets a bit darker after baking).
6 ounces apricot Jam, heated and sieved to get out the fruit bits (the original recipe called for 4 Tbl., but you need much more if you are doing 6 layers instead of 3; about 1 Tbl. jam per layer)
5 ounces powdered sugar (original recipe called for 1 1/4 cups)
4 Tbl. water (maybe 1/3 cup is more like it if you use 4 Tbl. cocoa)
1/2 tsp. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla (I omitted)
3-4 Tbl. cocoa (I think you will need more like 1/3 cup water if you use the larger amount of cocoa, see above)
Boil the water and corn syrup. Add the sugar and cocoa and stir together to make a glaze. If it is a bit thick and lumpy, you might need another Tbl. water.
To make the cookies, crumble the marzipan and mix the sugar, marzipan, almonds together until finely mixed and there are no lumps. Add an egg and beat nice and smooth. Add the shortening and salt and cream well. Add the remaining eggs and beat well (the original recipe said 7 minutes, but I don’t think that I did that). Add the extract and mix. Mix in the flour until evenly combined.
Divide the batter into 6 portions (6 small bowls), each portion weighing about 5 ounces. Color each portion (one each of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple). Spread the batter evenly in 8″ square pans (disposable tins okay). If you only have one or two pans, it is okay. Each layer only takes five minutes to bake, and quickly cools. You can just clean each pan between batches and reuse.
IMPORTANT: spread as evenly as possible because this batter does not really flow at all on its own and it won’t self level as it bakes. If the layers are uneven, it will cause distortions as the layers are stacked. The layers are held together with a very thin layer of jam and this leaves no chance for leveling the layers with frosting.
To make the cookies, spread the red layer with a very thin layer of jam. Add the orange layer, spread with jam, add the yellow and so on until the final purple layer is added. Wrap the stack in plastic and place it back in one of the pans. Top with another pan or another rigid surface and weight with 3 lbs. You can also place the the wrapped cake between heavy cookbook. The original recipe called for chilling overnight. I weighted it between books for a few hours and then put it back in the pan, added another pan on top with a weight and refrigerated overnight.
When you are ready to cut and frost, unwrap the stack and trim the edges to neaten them. Slice the layer into 4 strips, each 2″x8″. Make the glaze and frost the top and sides of the strips. You can sprinkle over colored sprinkles as an extra garnish. Let the frosting completely dry before slicing into 1/2″ thick slices to make about 4 dozen cookies.
The frosting is very bakery-esque, but you could also glaze with melted chocolate, with ganache, or with another kind of frosting