Photo by Julia Evanczuk
This is fairly time consuming. You can save time by having all ingredients and equipment set out in advance so you don't have to go scrambling at the last minute and waste time. A partner as sous chef might also be an option! One important note: the cakes must be assembled and spend the night in the refrigerator, weighted down, so that the layers adhere, before they are frosted and cut. So make sure you start the day before you serve them!
I have adapted the original recipe somewhat, and after trial and error, produced several fairly to very successful attempts. I have added some details that the veteran baker might not need to include, but when I bake, I certainly need every detail explained. For me, it makes the difference between good and great.
VENETIAN, or RAINBOW COOKIES
|All the ingredients|
1 7 or 8 ounce tube or can of pure almond paste...not almond filling! Solo is a popular brand.
Place can or tube in hot water to soften.
3 sticks butter, softened
4 large eggs, cold, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of pure almond extract
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
25 drops liquid red food coloring
25 drops liquid green food coloring
1 18 ounce jar apricot preserves, heated and strained (yields about 1 to 1 1/2 cup)
1 10 ounce bag of Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking chips
A note about cream of tartar: it is added to egg whites to stabilize them. This white substance, found in the spice aisle, is tartaric acid, which lines the inside of wine caskets after fermentation. Another use for wine! It is invaluable when using beaten egg whites. Without it, the egg whites will begin to degrade much more quickly and will affect the volume and texture of your cakes.
|Preparing the baking pan|
3 13X9X2 inch pans
Wax paper, 3 sheets, approximately 2 feet long each sheet
Nonstick cooking spray
Strainer or flour sifter
Electric stand mixer or sturdy electric hand mixer
2 small bowls for separated eggs
Large bowl for egg whites when done
3 2 cup (or larger) bowls for separating batter
Jelly roll pan or baking sheet
Strainer for apricot preserves
Small double boiler for chocolate
Heavy cutting board or heavy plate for weighing down the cakes
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Coat the pans with nonstick cooking spray, place the wax paper in each pan, allowing it to come up the short ends. Spray the paper.
|Beating the Egg Whites|
4. Break up almond paste in electric mixer bowl. Add butter, sugar, egg yolks, and almond extract. Beat until light and fluffy, 5 minutes. Beat in sifted flour and salt, only about 30 seconds more.
5. Carefully and by hand, in a circular motion, fold beaten egg whites into cake mixture until it is a well blended batter.
|Dividing the Batter|
|Spreading the batter|
|The layers are done|
8. Heat and strain the apricot preserves.
9. Remove the green cake layer, very carefully using two spatulas, place on the jelly roll pan or baking sheet. Spread half of the strained apricot preserves on that layer. Slide the yellow layer on top, again being very careful. Spread with remaining preserves. Slide the red layer on top.
|Spreading the strained preserves|
11. The next day, make the chocolate frosting by melting the chocolate in a double boiler. Be careful that no water droplets get into the chocolate or it will seize. You can also microwave it in a bowl, a few seconds at a time until completely melted. Remove the plastic wrap from the cake, and spread the chocolate evenly. Allow the chocolate to dry, only about 10 to 15 minutes. If you wait too long, the chocolate will crack and it will be difficult to cut the cookies. Trim the edges neatly (save the trimmings! they are as delicious as the cookies, but not as pretty!) Cut into 1 to 1/12 inch squares or rectangles. I slice the cake into four slices lengthwise, and then cut into one inch slices. This recipe yields 45 to 55 cookies.
I promise you that everyone will be very impressed with these cookies. They make a wonderful gift, and something very special to bring to holiday parties!
|Just where they should be!|
Photo by Julia Evanczuk
Buon Natale e felice anno nuovo! Buone feste a tutti!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Happy Holidays to all!