Another Italian tradition from my fiancé's family and a definite favorite of mine. My mother-in-law to be is pretty much the master of these little cookies and makes them every Christmas.
The cookies have been given many different names such as Venetians, Italian rainbow cookies, seven layer cookies, etc. I've always known them as Venetians.
There are three almond cake layers in the cookies, which are tri-colored: green, white and red to represent the Italian flag, although the red tends to be more pinkish. In between each layer is a spread of raspberry jam. Some recipes call for apricot jam, but I'm sticking with my mother-in-law's recipe as it never fails to amaze. The topping of chocolate really finishes these little cookies off beautifully and when they're all cut into little squares, you are left with the most perfect Christmas cookies. One bite of these and you will be hooked forever!
- 1 can (8 ounces) Almond paste (I make my own, see recipe below)
- 1 & 1/2 cups butter (3 sticks) softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 eggs, separated
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 drops green food coloring
- 8 drops red food coloring
- 1 jar (12 ounces) red raspberry preserves (seedless)
- 2 squares of semisweet chocolate or use semisweet chocolate chips
(makes enough for 2 batches of cookies)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 cups blanched almonds
- 1 cup sugar
To make the almond paste, grind the almonds until you have a fine almond flour, add all three ingredients to a blender and blend until combined well and smooth. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight tub.
Grease three 13/9/2 " pans and line with waxed paper and grease again.
In large bowl add the almond paste, butter, sugar, egg yolks, and almond extract.
Beat until fluffy with an electric mixer for 5 minutes.
Beat in the flour and salt.
Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form in a small bowl.
Stir the egg whites into the almond mixture with a folding motion.
Remove 1-1/2 cups of batter and spread into the first prepared pan.
Remove another 1-1/2 cups of batter, add green food coloring and spread into the second pan.
Add red food coloring to the remainder of the batter and spread into the third pan.
Bake at 350F for 15 minutes, or just until edges are golden brown.
The cakes should be 1/4 inch thick.
Cool on wire racks.
Place the green layer on the back of a foil covered cookie sheet.
Heat the raspberry preserves (strain if there is seeds) and spread 1/2 of the warm preserves on the green layer.
Slide on the yellow layer and spread the reminder of the preserves on top.
Slide on the red layer and cover with plastic wrap.
Store in the fridge overnight with a weight on top. (such as a cutting board)
Melt the chocolate and spread a thin layer over the top.
Allow to dry for 30 minutes and then cut into 1" square pieces.