Here is a treat that represents many things to many people. It’s known as the Italian Rainbow, The Venetian and even The Seven-Layer Cookie (though only three layers are immediately apparent—just take a closer look!).
And that’s not where the identity crisis ends. These cookies are made with cake, after all.
Regardless, its green, white and red layers—said to represent the Italian flag—are immediately recognizable as Christmas colors.
That’s because they’re made with three different colors of sponge cake, and our Venetian Rainbow Cookies recipe includes layers of apricot jam in addition to hold all that goodness together. Buon appetito!
As needed, unsalted butter, melted
8 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
1 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs, separated
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
10 drops green food coloring
10 drops red food coloring
1 cup apricot preserves
10 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottoms of three 9x13-inch baking pans with parchment paper. Brush paper with melted butter.
Break almond paste into pieces; place in a large mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, very gradually beat in sugar on low speed, mixing well after each addition until no lumps remain. This will take about 8 to 10 minutes. Thoroughly breaking up the almond paste is important to ensure that the batter will not be lumpy.
Add butter, egg yolks, almond and vanilla extracts and salt. Beat about 5 minutes on medium speed or until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of the bowl once. Fold in flour. Set aside.
In a clean dry bowl, using the whisk attachment, beat egg whites and pinch of salt on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites, half at a time, into the almond paste mixture. Divide batter into thirds, about 1-1/2 cups each, and place in separate medium bowls.
Add green food coloring to one bowl, red food coloring to second bowl and nothing to the third bowl. Gently mix green and red batters until no white streaks remain. Spread each batter in one of the prepared baking pans. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Loosen edges with a small knife or spatula. Immediately invert the pan onto a wire rack; remove pan and peel off paper. Let cool.
Heat preserves in a microwave-safe bowl until melted. Press the preserves through a sieve into a small bowl. The preserves should be smooth with no lumps.
Place the green layer on an inverted baking pan. Spread half of the preserves on top. Top with the plain layer and spread with the remaining preserves. Top with the red layer. Cover cake with plastic wrap. Place a heavy cutting board or tray on top to weigh it down. Refrigerate overnight.
Make Chocolate Frosting: Place chocolate chips and cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at half power, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted. The frosting should be thick but should spread easily. If too thick, stir in additional warm cream, a few drops at a time, to thin it.
Trim the cake’s edges with a sharp knife. Spread frosting on top. Refrigerate until frosting is firm. Cut into 1x2-inch pieces. To keep the edges of the cookies clean, be sure to wipe the frosting off the knife before each cut.