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Venetians

1 can (8 oz.) almond paste
1 cup sweet butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. salt
10 drops green food coloring
8 drops red food coloring
1 jar (12-oz.) Apricot preserves
4 1-oz squares semisweet chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease three 13 x 9 x 2" pans; line
with waxed paper (or baking parchment); grease again. Break up
almond paste in a large bowl with a fork. Add butter, sugar, egg
yolks, and almond extract. Beat with electric mixer until light
and fluffy, about five minutes. Beat in flour and salt. Beat egg
whites in small bowl with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
With a wooden spoon, stir into almond mixture using a turning motion
similar to folding. Divide batter into thirds (about 1 cup each).
Spread 1/3 of the batter evenly into a prepared pan. To the second
1/3 batter, add the green food coloring; spread evenly into second
prepared pan. Add red food coloring to remaining 1/3 of batter
and spread into the last prepared pan.

Bake in a moderate preheated oven (350 degrees ) for 10-12 minutes,
or just until edges are golden brown. Remove cakes from pans
immediately onto large wire racks. Cool thoroughly. Place green
layer on jellyroll pan lined with foil, waxed paper, or plastic
wrap. Heat apricot preserves; strain. Spread half of the warm
preserves over the green layer all the way to the edges. Slide
yellow layer onto top of green layer; spread with remaining apricot
preserves; slide pink layer, right side up, onto yellow layer.
Cover with plastic wrap; weight down with a large wooden cutting
board or heavy plate. Refrigerate overnight. Melt chocolate over
hot water in a small cup. Spread to edges of cake; let dry 30
minutes. Trim edges off cake. Cut into 1-inch square pieces.

NOTES: I puree the apricot preserves before heating, and don't
strain. Adding a small amount of apricot brandy after heating
perks up the flavor, too. This can be made in advance and frozen
- before spreading the chocolate. Work quickly spreading the
chocolate if recently removed from freezer - or wait until thawed
before spreading on the chocolate.

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