Sunday, December 13, 2009

Italian Layer Cookies

I was so positively sure that I could not make these cookies, that I waited an entire year before giving them a try. I had bookmarked the recipe at, but after reading the instructions and almost every review contributed, I became hesitant. Nearly everyone who spoke of these cookies had varying experiences and suggestions. My head was spinning, and I didn't know whose 2 cents would be truly valuable.

With the impending cookie exchange, I wanted an impressive contribution and these came to mind once again. It was time, I thought, to waste an afternoon and possibly a can of almond paste.

I wasn't totally committed until I found this recipe on Taste of Home's website. The instructions seemed to be condensed, or simplified, if you will. It is missing the chocolate layer on the bottom, but I could live without that. Everything else is consistent with the aforementioned recipe from Epicurious.

Italian Layer Cookies

These are also called Venetians, Rainbow Cookies, and 7 Layer ...

See Italian Layer Cookies on Key Ingredient.

I have a couple of suggestions for those who have these on the Christmas cookie roster:

  • Use more food coloring than specified in the recipe. I used about 1/3 of my bottles of red and green. This makes them so very vibrant and festive, and it is a traditional Italian Christmas Cookie, after all. Why use less?
  • I used SK's suggestion to freeze the layers after the chocolate had been applied and allowed to set. This will make cutting them into pieces much, MUCH easier, and the chocolate will not smear across the beautiful layers.

They turned out picture perfect and delicious in every way. I was also thrilled to find that they were not difficult to make. Time consuming maybe, but so worth the effort.

Several people have commented that these have the flavor of a chocolate covered cherry. The almond paste's unique flavor has way of tricking the taste buds. If this sounds appealing to you, try it out for yourself! It's not as daunting a task as it appears to be.

P.S. These cookies go by many names: Venetians, Rainbow Cookies, 7 Layer Cookies and Tri-Color Layer Cookies.


Sue Sparks said...

Mmmmm, all the ingredients sound so good, especially the almond paste:) I love the bright colors! These look so festive, I'd love to get some in a cookie exchange:)

Jeannie said...

Yum-yum!!! Hey, I'm doing a recipe challenge I'd love you to be a part of if your able.. :o)

pooftacular said...

These look divine! Wish I had the extra time/money to make them! For now I'll stick to my generic chocolate chip cookies :)

Viagra Online said...

how funny looks those cookies, with colors of national italian flag included, I am so wonderful to see this during my life I have never seen those. however is so amazing cookie to have on our table to enjoy for anyone.

Erin said...

We made these cookies for our family and friends this year. They are amazing! the only change to your recipe that we made was to add more chocolate (never a problem, right?)
We put the chocolate layer on one side, waited for it to harden, then flipped it over and put more on the bottom. Then we used a pizza cutter to make strips, and then coated each side of those strips in chocolate too. Using a offset spatula, there was a nice thin crisp layer of semisweet chocolate on 4/6 sides, that made this cookie look cute and delicious. Next time, I think i'd add more jam. Maybe 1/2cup rather than 1/4, for each type.
Anyway, thanks for sharing this recipe, and I'm so glad I finally got a chance to try it.

Anonymous said...

When my Italian grandfather walked through the door every Sunday morning with pastries and a tray of cookies, these were my "go to, gotta have" cookie! I managed to get the recipe from a relatives relative who owned an Italian bakery in NJ, and have made them ever since. They are always the cookie that disappears first. My recipe is so similiar, yet I think a tad bit easier. It calls for 1/2 cup less butter, and no extra almond extract. If you use Solo* brand (I use no other) you don't need the extract. I have learned a few things that make this cookie easier and better over years and years of making them. For the perfectionist in me when making these, and to ease the frustration of uneven layers. I have found that weighing or equally dividing the batter into 3 parts helps. It comes to about 1 1/3 cups each. Also, no need to mix the sugar w/the whites. My recipe says do NOT peak whites, whip just until soft peaks form and fold in at the very end. For the raspberry... only Smuckers red raspberry w/seeds makes these taste like they did when I was a kid :) I do use Smuckers Apricot, but I run it through a food processer to smooth out the great chunks that come in it. For chocolate, I use Callebut or Gheridelli. Nothing ruins a cookie quicker than a low quality chocolate. And if your going to go through all these steps who wants to ruin the cookie in the final step? After chocolate sets in fridge I use a sharp chef's knife dipped in hot water and wiped down inbetween all cuts. It really doesn't take as long as it sounds, and it makes perfectly neat cuts. :) These have never had chocolate on both sides that I know of in any Italian bakery. I think it overpowers the almond. They should also be cut into bite size rectangles or triangles :) Always have the Almond paste on hand a tad bit before Christmas. I find it is always difficult to find the closer to Christmas it gets. Most grocery stores carry it, just not enough at Christmas. DO NOT mistakingly buy the Almond "filling". It's not the same!

Anonymous said...

I also use salted butter, and do not add salt to recipe. And when I make the cuts w/the chef's knife, I actually do measure and use a ruler to mark off the cuts. I make them about 1/2 wide by 1 1/2 inches long. We eat the scraps that are cut off in the beginning from all the uneven edges. The line starts forming as they see me cutting :) LOL

Anonymous said...

I add a little butter and corn syrup to the melted chocolate and spread this on the squares. The chocolate will not break or crumble when you slice the squares.

I also use homemade almond paste.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that I came across this recipe. My mother used to make these when I was a little girl and she lost her recipe. I will be making these this year for Christmas. Thank you for sharing!!!

ButterYum said...

Oh my goodness... wonderful childhood memories are flooding back! I think I just found this year's cookie exchange recipe.


häjni said...

These are also Hungarian cookies!! :) But I will prepare this to my Italian friends

Anonymous said...

i make a spumoni cookie at xmas, which looks a little similar but uses a very basic dough (no almond paste here) as a jumping off point. it's just divided and colored/flavored differently. green=pistachio, red=candied cherry, white= vanilla and brown=chocolate. everyone loves them... especially me!

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