- 2 Tbsp. plus 2 cups unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
- 12 oz. almond paste (not marzipan), chopped
- 2 3/4 cups plus 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. green food coloring
- 3/4 cup orange marmalade, heated, strained
- 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped, melted
Preheat oven to 350°. Line three 13x9x2" metal baking pans with foil, leaving overhang; grease with 2 Tbsp. butter; set aside. Put egg whites in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk; beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a large bowl; cover; chill.
Using the paddle attachment, beat almond paste and remaining sugar on medium-low until incorporated, 4-5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high; gradually add remaining butter. Beat until fluffy. Beat in yolks, then flour and salt. Fold in whites in 2 additions.
Divide batter evenly among 3 bowls. Mix red coloring into 1 bowl and green coloring into second bowl; leave third bowl plain. Spread 1 bowl of batter into each prepared pan; smooth tops. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until just set, 9-11 minutes. Let cool in pans.
With a pastry brush, spread half of marmalade over green cake. Using foil overhang, lift plain layer out of pan. Invert onto green layer; discard foil. Brush remaining marmalade over plain layer. Lift red layer out of pan; invert onto plain layer and cover cake with foil.
Top with a 13x9x2" pan. Weigh down pan with several heavy canned goods to compress cake layers. Refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
Remove cans, top pan, and foil. Transfer cake to a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.
Spread half of chocolate over cake in a thin layer. Freeze for 10 minutes. Cover with waxed paper, invert the baking sheet on top, and flip cake. Uncover and glaze with remaining chocolate. Freeze 10 additional minutes.
Trim cake to 12x8". Cut crosswise into six 2"-wide strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 96 1/2"-wide cookies. Store in an airtight container.
Nutritional ContentOne cookie contains: Calories (kcal) 89.8 %Calories from Fat 56.1 Fat (g) 5.6 Saturated Fat (g) 2.9 Cholesterol (mg) 23.6 Carbohydrates (g) 9.3 Dietary Fiber (g) 0.3 Total Sugars (g) 6.1 Net Carbs (g) 9.0 Protein (g) 1.2 Sodium (mg) 17.7Reviews SectionGreat recipe but the salt is listed twice. Use one or the other (1/2 t. kosher or 1 t. regular), not both. Also raspberry jam (strained) or apricot works well as the filling.
There are many traditional Italian almond-paste cookies, but rainbow cookies seem to have been created in America by Italian American immigrants to honor the colors of the Italian flag. This recipe requires patience, but it is not difficult. As with most baking recipes, follow the instructions carefully and you will be rewarded with cookies that everybody loves and that keep moist for more than a week. You can find them in Italian bakeries year-round, but they are especially popular at Christmastime.
Step 1: Line 2 large baking trays with greaseproof. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy and well blended. Beat in the egg yolk and Vanilla Extract.
Step 2: Sift the flour and Baking Powder on top and add the M&Ms. Mix together to form a firmish dough. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and form each into a ball.
Step 3: Place the balls of dough spaced slightly apart onto your prepared baking trays and press them down slightly. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Step 4: 10 minutes before baking, pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on the trays for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely, the cookies will firm up as they cool.
Step 5: Once cooled your cookies are ready to serve and Enjoy!
If you do not want to bake all the cookies, freeze the cookie dough balls for up to 3 months, they can be cooked from frozen as above for 5 minutes longer.
Rainbow cookies originated in Italian immigrant communities of the United States during the 1900s to honor their native country. They are also called "tricolore" because of the resemblance to the Italian flag with white, red, and green layers. The cookie consists of brightly-colored layers with an almond-based sponge cake, raspberry and apricot jam, and a chocolate coating. The cookies have been given other names over the years such as Napoleon, Venetian, tricolor, or seven-layer cookie or cake.
The cookie also became a common Jewish deli item as refugees from Eastern Europe settled in New York at the turn of the 20th century in areas that also was home to an Italian population. Jewish-Americans became intrigued with rainbow cookies and adapted them to suit their own dietary requirements, substituting margarine for the original butter and have been credited as being the first to change the original Italian flag design to the rainbow design seen today, starting with the changing of the white layer of the cookie to yellow. These cookies are also popular to celebrate Hanukkah by making them available in blue and white instead of the traditional rainbow colors.
Italian Rainbow Cookies
Italian Rainbow cookies, sometimes also called Venetians, Neapolitans , or Tri-color cookies, are gorgeous and loaded with flavor. Growing up, I don’t remember making these cookies at home. They always came from a bakery. Once I learned how easy they are to make, they have become a must for my Christmas sweet table. The red, white, and green colors of the almond sponge cake not only represent the Italian flag – they also are the colors of Christmas. Traditional Rainbow cookies use apricot jam between the layers but I like the extra intense flavor of raspberry jam. Another tip is use a dark, bittersweet chocolate that is at least 60% cacao. The bittersweet flavor works well with the almond and raspberry. Don’t be put off by the long instructions. It takes longer to explain how to make them than actually make them. Italian Rainbow Cookies are definitely worth it!
Bake three layers of almond sponge cake in the colors of the Italian Flag.
Cover the cake with a layer of dark chocolate and cut into bars once the chocolate layer is cold and set.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Gel food coloring, such as AmeriColor, in pink, yellow, and turquoise
- 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- Mini peanut butter cups, such as Reese's, and edible gold sequins and stars, such as Wilton, for decorating (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, beating until just combined.
Divide dough in half. Divide one half into 2 pieces (about 3/4 cup each). Flatten one piece into a 3-by-5-inch rectangle wrap tightly with plastic. Roll out other piece into an 8-inch rod shape, about 1 inch thick wrap tightly with plastic. Divide remaining half of dough into 3 pieces (about 1/2 cup each), then tint each with one of the gel colors, stirring color in with a spatula. Flatten each tinted piece into a 3-by-5-inch rectangle wrap each tightly with plastic. Refrigerate all dough until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
In a small bowl, whisk egg white with a fork. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out turquoise dough into a 4-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Brush with egg white. Place dough rod on long edge of rolled-out dough, then roll rod inside it seal at edges where dough meets by pinching and pressing gently. Freeze 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough, rolling yellow dough out to 5 by 8 inches, pink dough to 6 by 8 inches (1/8 inch thick), and untinted dough to 7 by 8 inches. Roll log in plastic wrap twist ends closed. Refrigerate until very firm, at least 2 hours and up to 1 month.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Let dough stand at room temperature about 10 minutes remove plastic wrap. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharp chef's knife, slice log into 1/4 inch-thick rounds, rotating log after each cut to keep it round. Transfer rounds to sheets and bake until set and just golden around edges, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks and cut each cookie in half with a sharp knife to form two rainbows. Let cool completely.
In a small bowl, stir 1 to 2 teaspoons water into confectioners' sugar until mixture is thick and smooth. Use to adhere halved peanut-butter cups and gold sequins to cookies let stand until glaze hardens, 30 minutes. Sprinkle with gold stars. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days.
How to make Rainbow Cookies with Frosting Clouds
Sift together the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together for 1 minute. Add egg and vanilla. Add half of dry ingredients, stir completely, then add second half.
Separate dough into 5 equal portions, with an indentation or small “bowl” in the middle of each ball of dough.
Add 1-2 drops of gel food coloring to each ball of dough, in the middle of the indentation you created. Only use one color of gel per dough mound: red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
Knead each ball of dough separately, working in the food coloring until you have five brightly colored balls of dough.
Roll purple dough out into a 1 inch thick log, about 6″ long. Set aside.
Roll out the blue dough so that it is the same length as the purple log of dough, but flatten the blue dough so that it is only about 1/4″ thick. Place the purple dough log in the middle of the blue dough, rolling up the sides of the blue sheet of dough so that it surrounds the purple dough to form one larger log.
Repeat what you just did with the blue dough with each additional color, until you have one log of dough. Make sure that all of the colors are firmly pressed together with no gaps.
Wrap in plastic and refrigerate 1 hour to overnight.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two cookie trays with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
Remove cookie dough log from fridge and slice into 1/2 inch cookies – then slice again through the middle.
Place onto prepared baking sheet 1 inch apart.
Bake 8-10 minutes, the cookies will appear matte in appearance (not shiny). Allow to cool before frosting.
Use a plastic piping bag to draw “clouds” on each end of your rainbow cookies with white icing. Allow to set completely before serving.
Grab a free printable copy of our Easy Rainbow Cookies recipe:
Rainbow / Marzipane Cookies
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
- 1 cup apricot preserves
- 1 lb. almond paste
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
- 1/2 cup cake flour
- 6 large eggs
- red, green, and yellow food coloring
- 12+ ounces semi sweet, good quality chocolate chips
…The Backstory continues: When I was older and living on Staten Island, I was amazed to learn that my Italian friends also loved these cookies and had also grown up enjoying them. But they called them by a different name–marzipan cookies. How was that possible? I was brought up in a 99% Jewish area in Brooklyn, New York. Our neighborhood, had quite a few bakeries, each competing for your money. Needless to say they showcased the best that they had and these cookies were the standouts. My mom never received a box of bakery cookies that weren’t predominantly filled with these multi-colored layers of goodness. Things and ideas changed when I was exposed to different cultures. To this day, whenever I see rainbow cookies in a bakery–be it Jewish, German, or Italian, I still see them thru the eyes of a child and think of my dad, telling the clerk “One for my baby, please.”