Neapolitan Cookies

I remember the first time I had any sort of freeze dried fruit. It was an orange segment decorating the top of a decadent, flourless, chocolate cake. I was blown away by how light and airy the orange piece was. It seemed to dissolve in my mouth so quickly, almost like cotton candy, but the flavour was so bright and intense. Since then, I’ve been wanting to try experimenting with freeze dried fruits, but have had difficulty finding any locally.

A while ago, my friend made a trip to Trader Joe’s in the States and brought me back a bag each of freeze dried blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Earlier this week, I was in the mood to make some cookies and was looking online for some inspiration. I came across a recipe for Neapolitan Cookies that uses jam to flavour the strawberry layer. I wondered whether freeze dried strawberries would work instead, so I decided to test it out.

I was really pleased with how they turned out. Even Collin declared these to be his new favourite cookie. Each of the flavours individually are quite prominent on their own, and together, they really do taste just like neapolitan ice cream!

The dough is quick to assemble. The most time consuming part is pressing all the layers together for the different flavours, but even that doesn’t take long.

Start by whisking together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl, then set it aside.

You’ll also want to prepare prepare the freeze-dried strawberries by pulverizing them in the blender or a food processor until finely ground.

Freeze dried strawberries in the blender

You need 1/3 of a cup, measured after they’re ground up, not before. (This ended up being nearly the whole 34g bag that I was using.) Once you’ve ground up your strawberries, set them aside.

Freeze dried strawberries after being blended up into a powder

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and fluffy.

butter and sugar creamed together in a bowl

Add the eggs and the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed so everything gets well incorporated.

adding eggs to the butter and sugar mixture

Add the dry ingredients to your butter mixture, and mix until just combined. The dough will be fairly sticky, which is expected.

flour mixture mixed into the butter mixture

Remove the dough from the bowl, and divide it into 3 equal portions. You want one for each flavour – vanilla, strawberry and chocolate.

Take one portion of dough, and put it back in the mixing bowl. Add the freeze dried strawberries and some almond extract. Mix until just combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and set it aside.

1/3 of the dough in the mixer with the freeze dried strawberries

Take another portion of dough to the mixer, and add the melted chocolate and cocoa powder. Mix until just combined.

1/3 of the dough in the mixer with the melted chocolate and cocoa powder

Now you have all three flavours of your dough mixed up, you can start layering them!

strawberry, vanilla and chocolate dough in three separate bowls on the counter

Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving enough paper so it overhangs the edges. You’ll use these as handles later on to lift the dough out of the pan.

My loaf pan has quite a steep angle to the sides (the bottom is quite a bit narrower than the top), so I ended up using a tupperware container instead that was more squared off on the sides.

Take your strawberry dough, and place it into the bottom of the pan first. Press the dough out into an even layer so it covers the bottom of the pan. I found I was able to get a really flat layer by pressing the dough down with the bottom of my largest measuring cup. You could use something else with a flat bottom as well, like a cup or a glass.

layer of strawberry dough pressed into the container

Next, take your vanilla dough, and press it into an even layer on top of the strawberry.

layer of vanilla dough pressed into the container

Lastly, repeat the process with your chocolate dough. You’ll now have a loaf pan (or in my case, tupperware container) filled with 3 layers of dough. Tightly wrap the pan with a piece of plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge until firm (about 3 hours, or 1 hour in the freezer).

layer of chocolate dough pressed into the container

Once the dough is chilled, pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Line two cookie trays with parchment paper and set aside.

Lift your block of dough out of the pan using your handy parchment paper handles.

side view of the block of dough after it has been chilled, showing the three different layers of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry

Using a sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise down the middle so that you have two 2.5 x 9 inch rectangles.

the block of dough sliced lengthwise down the middle

Cut each rectangle into slices, about 1/2 inch thick.

the dough being cut into rectangles

Place the cookie slices onto your parchment lined trays, and bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just barely golden brown.

the dough slices placed on a parchment lined cookie tray, ready to go in the oven

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and allow them to cool completely before serving.

the baked cookies, cooling on a wire rack

I would make these again in a heartbeat. The dough recipe takes minimal time to prepare, and I love the end result with the various coloured stripes. The freeze dried strawberries are so flavourful, and bring a beautiful, naturally pink hue to the dough, so you don’t need to add any food colouring either.

a stack of the cookies, cooling on the wire rack

The only problem now is locating a good freeze dried strawberries source…I’m going to have to start making regular trips over the border now to stock up!


Neapolitan Cookies

The classic Neapolitan flavours of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, joined together in the form of a rich, buttery cookie.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Chill Time3 hrs
Total Time32 mins
Servings: 32 cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup salted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Strawberry Dough

  • 1/3 cup ground up freeze-dried strawberries
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

For the Chocolate Dough

  • 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 oz semi-sweet chocolate (melted and cooled slightly)

Instructions

  • In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together.
  • Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl half way through mixing to ensure everything is well incorporated. 
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl
  • Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Add one portion back to the mixer and add the freeze dried strawberries and almond extract to it. Mix until just combined. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Add a second portion of dough to the mixing bowl. Add the cocoa powder and melted chocolate. Mix until just combined. Remove the dough from the mixing bowl.
  • Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper, leaving a few inches extra overhanging the sides. You'll use these sides as handles later on to help lift the dough out of the pan after its chilled.
  • Take your strawberry dough, and press it into the bottom of the loaf pan in an even layer. Next, take the vanilla dough and press it into an even layer on top of the strawberry dough. Lastly, take your chocolate dough, and press it into an even layer on top of the vanilla dough. 
  • Cover the loaf pan tightly with a piece of plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until firm (about 3 hours, or 1 hour in the freezer).
  • Pre-heat your oven to 350°F and line two cookie trays with parchment paper.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge, and use the edges of the parchment paper to lift the whole block out of the loaf pan.
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise down the middle, so that you have two rectangles that measure 2.5 x 9 inches in length. Cut each rectangle into slices about 1/2 inch thick. 
  • Place the cookie slices onto the cookie trays about 2-3 inches apart. Bake for 11-13 minutes until the edges are just barely golden brown.
  • Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Notes

Recipe adapted slightly from Sally's Baking Addiction.

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