PB&J Not-Quite-Venetians
December 28, 2015 2:30 PM   Subscribe

Question for the bakers of AskMefi: I'd like to tinker with the recipe for Venetians, the layered cookies, swapping out almond for peanut, but I have nowhere near the experience needed to know how to make this work.

My understanding is that Venetians are layered cookies made with an almond paste-based dough. The layers are individual sheets of very thin but dense cake, assembled with apricot jam inside and covered in a layer of melted chocolate so that they flatten into petit-four sort of things in the fridge overnight. Delicious, and a family tradition I'd like to put my own spin on.
My thought is to substitute peanuts (in the form of peanut butter, probably, as close to "nothing but peanuts" as the ingredient list will go) and strawberry jelly in place of almond and apricot. This seems like I'd need a very different recipe for the cake layers, though, since almond paste and peanut butter have totally different consistencies. A peanut butter cookie recipe wouldn't seem to work; those would be too thick when what I want is a very thin dense layer. What kind of dough am I actually looking for here, and how can I make this cookie a reality?
posted by wanderingmind to Food & Drink (4 answers total)
I feel like these would have to be inferior to the almond-paste version, but I've definitely seen recipes that got their almond flavoring solely from almond extract. And some company out there must make peanut extract that you could substitute, right?

You might get better Google results with the term "rainbow cookies," by the way -- that's what I've always heard them called.
posted by ostro at 3:02 PM on December 28, 2015

I'm not familiar with these cookies but I'm wondering if you could use natural peanut butter that tends to separate into peanut and oil and just pour off the oil. If I don't mix ours, the bottom half of the peanut butter is pretty dry. That might make the consistency closer to almond paste. Or do you have a health food store close by? They sometimes have a grind-your-own-peanuts into butter machine that results in coarser than standard peanut butter (standard being the ultra smooth Jif style).

So are the cake/cookie layers crisp like a cookie or cakey? If it's more cakey, then can you just use a peanut butter cake recipe? This one uses a cake mix to start but it looks pretty pale and might take the food coloring better. One more here.

Also I think I saw on an episode of the Great British Bake Off that one cake was made by pouring the batter into a jelly roll pan and then baking it under a second pan (maybe a layer of parchment paper on the top of the batter?) to keep it from rising too much. That might give the density you need.
posted by Beti at 3:46 PM on December 28, 2015

I also know these as rainbow cookies. Anyway, almond paste isn't just ground almonds -- it's lightened with confectioner's sugar and egg whites. You could try adapting an almond paste recipe and using peanuts.
posted by chickenmagazine at 6:51 PM on December 28, 2015

You've probably made your attempt already considering they're usually a Christmas cookie. But your question got me curious so I did a bit of poking around. I think your best bet texture wise would be to start with dry unsalted peanuts and grind them finely in a food processor or coffee grinder, then follow a recipe like this for homemade marzipan. Then follow the Venetian recipe as usual, swapping jelly for jam, etc. Natural Peanut butter is so finely ground that the fat separates from the nuts, and I think that might be a problem for the cookies' structure.
posted by Diablevert at 5:42 AM on January 10, 2016

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