o say can you … play – Liberty Squares

o say can you … play – Liberty Squares

When my Chinese doctor of Chinese Medicine told me I had to cut out dairy, eggs, and sugar to test for possible allergic reactions for a few weeks, I was mortified. I’ve done vegan baked goods before, but the minute I was told of the banned foods, I craved them even more. Still, the most difficult part was not leaving behind the consumption of goodies as much as taking a vacation from the creative part of baking.  I could still play and follow the rules, however, as long as I didn’t inhale.

There’s so much to celebrate this time of year—the bountiful produce of the Farmer’s Market, the excitement of the World Cup, the cornucopia of endless foodie events,  and of course, the outdoor cuisine of Independence Day.  This recipe is a spin on the colors of the traditional Italian Rainbow Cookies. Instead of pink, green, and yellow, I switch the palette to patriotic red, white and blue—plus chocolate, of course.  (If this version of the cookies were served in the Congressional dining rooms, they’d probably change the name to Freedom Cookies.)

I always wanted to try this treat, and my friend Linda makes terrific ones with just the right sweetness, so I wanted to follow her lead with some modifications for this version. You can bake them for a fun hostess gift, a potluck barbecue, or your own July 4th celebration. With Red, White, and Blue stripes, the cookies could double for Bastille Day. (You could bake a second batch on July 14 and be French for the day, as well.)

Happy 4th of July and Bastille Day!

Liberty Squares


Almond Cake
  • 6 ounces almond paste
  • 3/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 24 tablespoons (12 ounces/3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspooon table salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoons red soft gel-paste food coloring, or more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoons blue soft gel-paste food coloring, or more as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon white soft gel-paste food coloring, or more as needed

Note – Even though you want strong colors, caution not to use too much food coloring, or the cake will have an artificial taste

Chocolate Glaze
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • Almond Cake
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or Triple Sec
  • 1-1/2 cups raspberry jam
  • Chocolate Glaze
  • 1 cup Simple Syrup (simmer 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water until slightly thickened)


Almond Cake

1. Place rack in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 325°F.

2. Line three 1/4 sheet pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Secure parchment with a touch of cooking spray. Set aside.

3. Place almond paste in a food processor fitted with steel blade and blend for 1 minute. Add sugar and pulse until mixture comes together. Add 6 tablespoons of softened butter and pulse until evenly blended. Blend in another 6 tablespoons. Continue until all butter are incorporated and smoothly blended.

4. Scrape bowl once and add egg yolks, pulse to blend. Pulse in almond flour, then all-purpose flour and salt until smooth. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl.

5. In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. beat egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Gently fold egg whites into almond mixture. Divide batter evenly into 3 bowls. Add food coloring accordingly and stir well to incorporate. Pour into prepared pans.

6. Place two pans on upper rack and one on lower rack of oven. Bake for 9 minutes. Switch pans top to bottom and front to back. Bake for another 8-10 minutes. Remove pans from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on cooling racks.

Chocolate Glaze

1. Combine chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50% power for 1 minutes. Stir and repeat until melted. Stirring will determine if the mixture has fully melted. Add corn syrup and Grand Marnier, stir to combine. Let mixture cool for 5 minutes. Pour glaze over cake and spread evenly with an off-set spatula. No need to go all the way to the edge for you will be trimming off the edges later. Cover assembled cake and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 days.


1. Place the blue layer on a parchment lined pan or plate. Combine simple syrup and Grand Marnier. Brush one third of the syrup mixture evenly on cake layer. Spread a thin layer of Raspberry Jam evenly over the cake. Top with white cake layer, repeat syrup and jam, you might not use up all of the jam) Top with red cake layer and brush with remaining syrup mixture. Cover cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

2. Cut cake into 1-1/4 inch squares or whatever size you prefer. Be mindful not to cut cake too large, it does not have the structure of a bar cookie.