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 epicurious.com, 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.
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.