Thursday, December 15, 2011

Venetian Cookies: The Final Straw

Sometimes pride is at stake when I attempt recipes that I receive for dinner club. After all, everyone in the neighborhood who is in the group is going to see it, and probably eat it. It's clear I didn't go to the bakery and carry these home in a cardboard box. I haven't made this 1,000 times. This recipe had me over a barrel today. It wasn't pretty. Chocolate seizing, uneven layers, oy. But, I tried one of the edge pieces after I cut this up, and I've gotta say, it's divine. The apricot layers go so well with the almond in the cakey layers. We can ignore the chocolate on top. It is, shall we say, a labor of love. It is probably much the same for the family of the gal who wrote this recipe as it is for me to make 24 Stollen in a Christmas season.

Here goes.

Venetian Cookies

From Good Housekeeping

GH Recipe Developer Gina Miraglia helps her mom, Marie, make these rich almond-flavored bars every year in their Queens, NY, kitchen. Mother and daughter pack the cookies in Christmas tins along with other Italian goodies for lucky relatives and friends. We were thrilled when the Miraglias agreed to share this prized recipe with us. Tip: For best flavor, make the cookies up to 3 days before serving and store them covered in the refrigerator.

Total Time: 1 hr 30 min

Cook Time: 10 min

Oven Temp: 350 degrees


4 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar, divided

1 can(s) (7 to 8 ounces) almond paste

1 1/4 cup(s) (2 1/2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened

1 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

20 drops red food coloring

20 drops green food coloring

1 jar (12 ounces) apricot preserves, strained (see note below)

4 1-ounce squares semi-sweet chocolate, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease three 15 1/2- by 10 1/2-inch jelly-roll pans;* line pans
with waxed paper, allowing waxed paper to extend over ends of pans. Grease and flour
waxed paper.

2. In small bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat egg whites with 1/2 cup sugar until stiff peaks
form; set aside.

3. In large bowl, with same beaters, and with mixer at medium speed, beat almond paste and
remaining 1/2 cup sugar until well blended (there will be some small lumps of almond paste
remaining). Reduce speed to medium-low; beat in margarine or butter until blended. Beat in
egg yolks and almond extract until blended. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour and salt just
until combined.

4. With rubber spatula, fold egg-white mixture into almond mixture, one-third at a time, until

5. Remove one-third of batter (about 1 1/2 rounded cups) from large bowl to small bowl.
Remove half of remaining batter from large bowl to another small bowl. (You should have
equal amounts of batter in each bowl.) Stir red food coloring into 1 bowl of batter until evenly
blended. Repeat with green food coloring and another bowl of batter.

6. Spread white (uncolored) batter in 1 jelly-roll pan. With metal spatula (offset, if possible),
spread batter as evenly as possible (layer will be about 1/8 inch thick). Repeat with red batter
and another pan. Repeat with green batter and remaining pan.

7. Bake layers 10 to 13 minutes, rotating pans halfway through cooking time, until layers are
just set. It is important to undercook this batter slightly to ensure moist cookie layers. (If you
don't have enough oven space for 3 pans, you can bake 2 layers at once, then bake the last
layer separately.)

8. Let layers cool slightly in pans on wire racks, about 5 minutes. Invert layers onto racks, leaving
waxed paper attached; cool completely.

9. When all 3 layers are cooled, remove waxed paper from green layer. Place green layer on
serving tray or platter; spread with half of apricot preserves. Place white layer on top of green
layer, waxed-paper side up; remove waxed paper. Spread with remaining apricot preserves.
Place red layer on top of white layer; remove waxed paper.

10. With serrated knife, trim edges (about 1/4 inch from each side). Spread melted chocolate on
top of red layer (not on sides); refrigerate until chocolate is firm, at least 1 hour. If you like,
after chocolate has set, cover and refrigerate stacked layers up to 3 days before cutting and

11. To serve, cut stacked layers lengthwise into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 12 small
rectangles. Store cookies in tightly covered container, with waxed paper between layers, in

Tips & Techniques

*If you have only 1 jelly-roll pan, you can still make this recipe. Just bake layers 1 at a time, and be sure
to let pan cool completely before reusing.

*To strain preserves (and you WILL want to do so), heat the preserves up in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl for about 90 seconds. Strain through a sieve, and rub the preserves with the back of a spoon. I saved the fruit pieces and put them in an already open jar of peach preserves in the fridge. Waste not, want not.

Venetian Cookies

Almond paste

Folding egg whites into almond paste and butter mixture

Folded batter

Batter three ways: white, pink and green. Preppy cookies. 

Good thing I have three jelly roll pans

Heat the preserves and then strain them. 

Spread preserves over cookie layer

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