Saveur’s Rainbow cookies

NaBloPoMo 2012. Thirty straight days of postings. We did it, you guys!

When the month began, we were fairly certain this could go either way. Work schedules can be unpredictable and life always is. The cooking didn’t worry us since we do that most days, but writing every day and worrying about things like daylight for photos; this did have us concerned. But we figured we’d give it a go.

So why did I sign up for this anyhow? For me, it was mainly to challenge myself to write under the constraints of time. I’ve been known to agonize and linger over posts for hours. One of the few reasons there was a lull on this space was because I just didn’t have that kind of time to devote to it after. But I knew I didn’t want to give up on our little world here, because even through the lingering, I enjoyed the writing. NaBloPoMo forced me to be disciplined about it. This may not be my day job, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be some sense of ritual about it. Work and life are important, but so is this wish to keep writing. I also needed to find out if I just imagined I wanted to write or if in fact, I could write if it was required of me. It is the work that is put into it and the telling of the story that matters.  It doesn’t matter if I misspell words. (What nonsense are you talking, girl? Sacrilege!) Then there was the self-imposition I had about posting at least five recipes a week. That was the plan I stuck to, somehow it worked. But ultimately, what mattered was that I want to write and that I do it. Nupur said it perfectly. Writing allows you to work things out. You can be your own therapist and best friend. Most times you just need to be able to write your heart out. Write my heart out, I have.

It wasn’t easy writing every day. My mind wandered to things like design and construction meetings every time I tried to sit and string thoughts together on the dish I wanted to talk about. Or I’d think of something to write while starting to wash my hair and forget by the time I was done. Then I’d drive myself crazy trying to remember what it was. Posting every day meant committing to no self-editing while writing and also having the guts to put that writing out as a post on a public forum, day after day, no matter what I thought of it. I was so happy reading some of the comments to my posts. You have no idea how important your encouragement has been through this month, while I tried to find my writing ways. Also, to those of you who were taking this challenge too, you kept me going. I read somewhere that you have to do something for twenty-two days straight for it to become a habit. I’m hoping now, at the end of this month, I will remember the lessons I’ve learned.

On an adjacent note, I also need to tell this wonderful guy I married that he is responsible for so much of what I can do. He exists in the shadows on this space. You see his work in the food photography but you never get to hear from him. But he is integral to its existence. He eats everything I cook, even when I burn it (and I still do sometimes).  He cooks when I can’t or when I won’t, no matter how exhausted he is. He will stay up late with me just so I’m not up alone late at night, writing like some sort of lonely owl. He will do so even if I refuse to sit in the same room with him when I write.

Without him, my best friend, this blog would not exist.

I imagine he will blush furiously and insist that I should delete that last paragraph when he reads this. But I’m going to try to distract him with these cookies I made. Sound the bell, holiday cookie season is well and truly here.

I spotted the recipe in Saveur’s Italian Christmas December 2011 issue. I first tried them out when I gave them to friends as Christmas gifts last year. We get together, my girlfriends and I, before the end of the year to celebrate the season and each other. Instead of our usual restaurant meetings, we met at our friend Laura’s house for a potluck with our assortment of spouses and kids. Because there were children involved, I figured they like these tri-coloured cookies.

At Diwali time back in India, my mom fills plates of sweet and savoury assortments and sends them off to neighbours on the first day of the celebration. I took a page from her book and handed a combination of these cookies and these marshmallows to my friends. Only they didn’t need to return the plate like neighbours usually do. I remember reading in that Saveur story that this is what the author’s mom did and the plates are expected back, just like my mom expected hers. It is amazing, some of the little odd similarities that arise across cultures.

That was my first time tinkering around with food colour and let me tell you I was as giddy as any child with unfettered access to paint. Unfortunately, just like a three year old, I got colour on everything, including my face. Thankfully, food colouring washes off.

Rainbow Cookies from Saveur

These cookies are called rainbow cookies, but they highlight three colours. Four if you are going to be a stickler and count chocolate as another colour. The three colours represent the Italian flag. I thought of making an Indian flag version because our flags share two of the same colours, but decided in the end to stick with the original, since it is all dressed up in Christmas colours. I’m not going to post the recipe on my blog, not only because Saveur has it online here but also because any changes I made were born out of necessity, both times.

This is an excellent cookie, tasting of jam and nuts and chocolate all at once. My biggest challenge with this cookie was locating the pastry filling they mentioned. All the stores had tons of almond paste but no pastry filling, at least around Christmas. I searched high and low for it last December and couldn’t find it and then the rest of this year, saw it all over the place at Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma and Safeway.  When I needed it now, it disappeared on me again, This time I looked in a couple of places and defaulted back to what I did the last time. I knew it worked.

What I did was buy a couple of almond paste tubes and mix them with milk, enough to make up the fluid ounces of pastry filling required. I blended the two ingredients as well as possible before introducing them to the butter and sugar. I’m sure the pastry filling cookies must be better, but this did work for me. It produced a dense, yet cakey cookie. Like a tough biscuit cake. They were sweet and nutty. Everyone loved them.

I also missed the part where the recipe asks you to cut them into logs and then cover with chocolate, yes, both times (don’t ask me how). I assembled the three layers and poured on the chocolate before I put them in the fridge to cool. The contrast of chocolate and cookie is great so please follow their instructions and do as they ask. More chocolate equals an even more awesome cookie.

This is a fabulous cookie to add to your list of holiday cookies. You get jam and cookie. In our book and if you remember these jam cookies, you’ll know this is a fabulous duo. Then there’s chocolate. It’s a fabulous treat, this little cookie.


  1. Nupur

    Thank you for a most delicious month! You write beautifully and it was a treat to discover your blog. This is the sweetest post ever.

  2. Divya

    Congratulations on finishing up the month, and thanks so much for treating us to an absolute feast for the senses (words, pictures, colours, smells, memories)! Hope you have a wonderful holiday season (I’m thinking: hot chocolate, mulled wine, eggnog, etc etc)…

    • Sharmila

      Divya, thank you for reading and all your encouraging comments this month. It’s so nice to have connected with you, even if it is through the Internet.

  3. arundati

    congratulations on completing the whole month of blogging… came here thru nupur’s and you promptly went into the reader… its been lovely discovering your blog… keep up the good work!

  4. Lawyer Loves Lunch

    I looked forward to reading your daily posts on my morning commute and am a bit bummed the month is already over 🙂 I think it’s incredibly sweet you gave your husband a formal shout-out (the hubster is my blog’s silent photographer and tech expert so I know how crucial it is to have a blog-buddy). Congratulations again on a month of fantastic writing 🙂

    PS: In Pakistani culture, if you don’t return someone’s plate with treats of your own, you’ve pretty much guaranteed you’ll never get treats again. Oh, and if you don’t return their plate at all, my god I can’t even imagine the ridicule! 🙂

    • Sharmila

      Thank you so much for that Azmina! I will continue to post a few times every week 🙂 I read this comment out to Amey and that got a big smile from him.
      Back in Bombay, it pretty much guaranteed social ostracization if that plate didn’t come back with sweets. For my mom though, what mattered was getting the plate back since she handed out her best ones. We always asked her why she didn’t give some of her less loved ones. She just shook her head and said that wasn’t done. 🙂 Such a lovely, courteous age our folks lived in.