With dark chocolate on top and strawberry jam sandwiched between two layers of almond flour sponge cake, these Venetian Style Cookies are a perfectly decadent & gluten-free dessert for Valentine’s Day!Jump to Recipe
Venetian Style Cookies with Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Jam
Despite their name, Venetian Style Cookies (also known as Italian Cookies or Layer Cookies) never really looked like cookies to me. The squares of layered red, white, and green sponge topped with thin dark chocolate look more like cakes (or at least cookie bars) to my eye. That being said, the almond flour sponge is buttery and soft, the layers of jam just the right amount of tart sweetness. No matter the name, Venetian Style Cookies are utterly delicious.
My version of this traditional layered cookie is ready for Valentine’s Day. While I considered (and tested) food dye to make the cookies pink in color, ultimately I abandoned the idea. I think the pale sponge looks pretty and pristine against the red jam, but of course feel free to make up your own mind on that count.
An Experiment in Baking
I’m not going to lie. I had some difficulties with this batter.
I experimented using a tried and true recipe my friend (and Patreon supporter!) Rachelle makes every year, after she consulted with me about ways to simplify the process a bit from the traditional seven tiny layers she usually produces. We brainstormed a few ideas and her adjusted recipe was a success. I naturally wanted to try for myself, and thought a version of these layered cookies would be delightful for Valentine’s Day.
I underestimated what I was getting into.
Baking the Almond Sponge Cake
The truth is I rarely have baking failures. Maybe things aren’t photogenic enough for Instagram or I want to adjust the flavors here or there, but usually my baked goods at least taste good enough to share with friends and family. So I won’t say that I was suffering from genuine failure with these cookies – every experimental batch is very tasty. But this batter is tough to bake perfectly. Even in these pictures, I know the sponge is a bit underdone, but thought I’d go ahead and share anyway.
To Layer or Swirl?
Another question to keep in mind is whether you want to go through the trouble of layering your Venetian Style Cookies in a more traditional sense, or if you want want to take a short cut. If you want the flavors but don’t care about a perfect bisection of layers, a much easier way is to just swirl the jam into the batter before cooking. The sponge will be thicker and require longer in the oven (an additional 10-15 minutes more), but the resulting cookies are still seriously addictive in flavor.
Slicing through Dark Chocolate
I pass on the advice my friend Rachelle gave to me – use a hot knife to cut through the chocolate layer on top! Otherwise, you run the risk of shattering the chocolate. She holds her knife against the burners on her stove between cuts to achieve this. I let the water in the double boiler I used to melt the chocolate continue to heat, and held the knife over the steam. Either way, a hot knife will allow you to make smooth cuts.
Just don’t microwave your knives please!
Gluten Free & FODMAP Friendly
Because they use almond flour, these Venetian Style Cookies are naturally gluten free. Additionally, as long as the jam uses a fruit low in FODMAPS – like this basic strawberry jam – the cookies are FODMAP friendly as well.
Admiring that garland of crocheted hearts? I made them in less than twenty minutes using this awesome pattern! Decorate your breakfast tray or dinner table with a little touch of handmade love.
Venetian Style Cookies with Dark Chocolate & Strawberry Jam [Gluten-Free]
Dark chocolate, strawberry jam, and two layers of almond sponge cake make these Venetian Style Cookies a perfect choice for Valentine’s Day [Gluten Free]
- 8 ounces almond paste
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 4 eggs, separated
- 2 cups almond flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces strawberry jam
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9 x 13 inch cake pans with butter and line with parchment paper, allowing some to hang over each side for easy removal later.
Cream the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolks together in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a hand mixer. Break up the almond paste with your fingers, and add to the mixture, mixing until the mixture is light and fluffy.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the almond flour and salt. Using a wooden spoon, stir the flour into wet mixture.
Using a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold this into the batter until incorporated.
Split the batter in half, and spread it out between the two prepared baking pans. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until slightly golden and cooked through. Do not hesitate to cook the sponge a little longer if it feels undercooked. Remove the finished cake from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Once room temperature, lift the sponge cakes from the pans using the parchment paper and place them on a clean surface. Spread the jam over the surface of one of the cakes in a thin, even layer. Lift and place the second cake over the first, sandwiching the jam in the center. Press gently.
Using a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set into a pot of water, melt the semi-sweet chocolate chips, stirring with a rubber spatula until smooth.
Using the same spatula, delicately spread the melted chocolate over the top of the sponge cake in a smooth, thin layer. To hide imperfections, you can trace ridges into the chocolate like I did in mine if you like.
Chill the entire layered “cake” in the fridge until the chocolate completely hardens (30 minutes to an hour).
Once the chocolate has set, place the whole cake onto a cutting board. Using a hot knife (as described below), first slice off the ugly edges, so that the sides will be cleanly visible. Snack on those remnants as you work. Then carefully slice the cookies into 2 x 2 inch squares.
Store the cookies in an airtight container with parchment or wax paper between layers. Cookies will keep 3 days at room temperature, and up to 7 days in the fridge.
Alternate Method – Swirling the Jam: If you don’t feel like messing with multiple layers, you can achieve delicious (although not quite as pretty) cookies an easier way with these alterations.
- Only prepare one 9 x 13 pan lined with parchment, rather than two, in step one. Spread the finished batter out smoothly into this pan in step 5.
- Before baking, spoon the jam in two straight lines down the center of the batter. Using a butter knife, swirl the jam into the batter using looping motions through the jam. The jam should not fully incorporate with the batter, but instead just swirl through in lines.
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until cooked through. – Let cool, and spread the chocolate layer over top as normal.
Use a Hot Knife: To avoid shattering the chocolate as you cut through the cookies, make sure your knife is hot. To achieve this, let the water in the double boiler used to melt the chocolate continue to heat, and hold the knife over the steam between cuts. Gently trace the cut you want to make with the tip of the knife through the chocolate layer, and then cut entirely through for a smooth side.
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