Cookie swaps is a genius concept: bring one large batch of cookies to a party with the intention of exchanging them for other cookies. The larger the group, the more cookie variety. While the intention is good, the idea of making a big batch of cookies — and I’m talking over 5 dozen for a recent Geek Girl cookie swap — can be overwhelming. So any shortcuts I can find, I will take it.
Enter Venetian cookies aka rainbow cookies. These are the same cookies I’m on the lookout for when entering any Italian deli like Filippi’s in San Diego’s Little Italy. These tinted layers of almond-flavored dough are held together with jam and topped with chocolate. They’re also festive, incorporating the colors of
One batch of these suckers yields 96 cookies! Well, if you correctly slice up the slabs. And while you may think I’m a grinch for cutting thin slices, smaller is actually better since these are extremely rich with almond flavor. And if one isn’t enough, there are plenty of slices to go around. If you need less cookies, you can adjust by cutting bigger cookies.
The hint to making these cookies is to have three cookie sheets exactly the same size and evenly spreading the dough onto the sheets. (Make sure there are no gaps of dough on the cookie sheet.) While the dough may seem thin, as soon as they hit the heat of the oven, they slightly puff up and bake quickly. While the edges of the baked layers may be slightly singed, they can easily be trimmed off prior to serving. Equally important is that inconsistencies in the spreading of the chocolate topping are camouflaged when sliced.
I won’t lie and say these are the easiest cookies to make the first time around but a batch of these beats out chocolate chip cookies at any cookie swap.
Rainbow Cookies (Venetian Cookies)
Makes approximately 96 cookies
7 ounces almond paste
1 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
6 drops red food coloring
6 drops green food coloring
1/4 cup seedless raspberry or strawberry jam
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cover three 9×13 inch with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, break apart almond paste and heat in microwave for two minutes until easily broken apart with a fork.
Cream softened almond paste with butter, sugar, eggs and almond extract. When mixture is fluffy and smooth, stir in flour to form a dough. Divide dough into 3 equal portions.
Mix one portion with red food coloring, and one with green food coloring. Spread each portion into one of the prepared baking pans.
Bake 9 to 11 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned. Carefully remove from pan and and cool completely on wire racks.
Place green layer onto a piece of plastic wrap large enough to wrap all three layers. Spread green layer with jam, and top with uncolored layer. Spread with jam, and top with red layer. Transfer layers to a baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Place a heavy cutting board or books on top of wrapped layers to compress. Chill in the refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight.
In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt chocolate with cream and butter for 5 minutes or until smooth.
Using a wide spatula, top with melted chocolate, and refrigerate 1 hour or until chocolate is firm. Slice into small rectangles.