Wednesday, December 24, 2008
venetians. or neapolitans. whatever. 7-layer pink/white/green things.
I have always loved these cookies. Seriously, every time I go to a bakery that has them, I buy (at least) one just to see if they're any good. They are a three-layer marzipan sponge cake, separated by layers of jam, and topped (and if you're lucky, bottomed and sided) with a thin layer of chocolate. How could that be bad? The irony is that I grew up calling them Neapolitans, and the rest of the world seems to refer to them as Venetians, and it's not as if Naples and Venice are particularly close to one another. Let's just agree that it's some kind of Italian bakery cookie which, though I've never seen one in Italy, come to think of it, is an extremely popular item in Italian and Jewish bakeries. My mom's even made them for me (for our post-wedding brunch) though again, patchkerai.
Here's the recipe Epicurious included in their 25 days of Christmas cookies. They just call them Seven-Layer Cookies (which, to me, is a Magic Cookie - a story for another day). Guess they didn't want to get in a battle between Northern and Southern Italians.
I have a couple of notes:
1. I used seedless raspberry jam because I like the taste. Ultimately, the sponge layers are pretty spongy, and the jam seeped a little. Apricot would've been less noticeable visually - and I dearly love apricot jam as well - so next time, that's what I'll use.
2. It's not often that a recipe calls for an odd amount of an odd item... in this case, it's 8 oz marzipan, and a standard grocery store tube is 7 oz. I'm not sure why that is. The recipe writing gods tend to consider that kind of thing. I ended up getting a 10 oz can of marzipan at Surfas and just pulled off 2 oz.
3. I have three identical 9x13 pans (I know, ridiculous) and double ovens, so I just prepped and baked all three layers at once. No refrigerating, room temperaturizing, etc., which definitely saved time and aggravation.
4. I cannot abide the smell of baking waxed paper, so I used parchment. No prob and a substitution I highly recommend.
5. While it was easy enough to spread the batter using a rubber spatula or - better yet - an offset spatula, it was by no means runny enough to "pour."
6. "Undercook" is one thing; my pink layer was way too raw, which I didn't realize until way too late. You don't want to know what I had to do to get around that. Suffice it to say, the cake needs to be set - albeit just barely - or you are going to have an odd, squishy mess. It worked out okay, but I was fully prepared I might have to scrape the pink layer off in parts, which would've been a bummer.
7. They are not kidding about weighting it down (waxed paper is okay for this part) and refrigerating it. Don't skimp on this.
8. I didn't bring the layers to room temp before spreading on the chocolate. No biggie; skip that step, though you may have to work more quickly with the chocolate to keep it from setting up. BTW, an offset spatula is very nice for spreading the chocolate quickly, smoothly and gently.
I still think these are delish, and I was very happy with how they turned out (see, everyone? I am occasionally satisfied with my own efforts! :-).