Classic Italian Rainbow Cookie Recipe

This Italian Rainbow Cookie Recipe with almond extract is sure to be your new favorite way to make the best holiday Italian dessert that is known for its colorful cake layers.

Made with almond paste and almond extract, this classic cookie cake delivers the perfect mixture of flavors in every bite of this classic holiday cookie.

Italian Rainbow Cookie Recipe Almond Paste

What Are Italian Rainbow Cookies Called?

Italian rainbow cookies are also known as seven-layer cookies, Neopolitan Cookies, Venetian Cookies, and Italian flag cookies, amongst a few other names.

You may be wondering “what is the Italian name for rainbow cookies? The answer is, Tricolore which means three colors, just like the colors of the Italian flag.

This is a staple in most Italian bakeries in New York City and something that could be found at many grocery stores throughout New Jersey. There are quite a few places across the United States that have great Italian bakeries but in some places, they are harder to find than others.

This kind of thing is not as easily found in Iowa so I decided to make my own Italian rainbow cookies when the craving hit.

Plus, homemade rainbow cookies are way better than the storebought kind so making your own is the best way to get your rainbow cookie fix.

When I gave these cookies out as gifts, I wrapped them and the recipient could not see the cookies through the package. One of them asked me a question after I told him what magical treat awaited inside. He asked, “why are they called Italian Rainbow Cookies?”

I urged him to open them up and see for himself, thinking he would see the Italian flag colors and know the answer to his question. Instead, he pointed out how the colors were a bit off, the red looked pinker and the white looked more yellow than he remembered from the Italian flag.

Somehow I refrained from smashing the cookie in his face and let him give it a try. He loved it and it turns out, he’s right, they are usually more pink than red but the taste is equally as great no matter how much food coloring you decide to put in.

What Are Italian Rainbow Cookies Made Of?

While this recipe is made up of many steps it really isn’t that difficult to create the cookie layers. It’s not really difficult, it just requires a lot of small steps.

In the end, you will be left with a delicious dessert that the whole family will love and it will be well worth the effort.

This rainbow cookies recipe is made with almond extract, almond paste, sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and flour.

The center layer does not require any food coloring but the red cake layer is made with red food coloring and the green cake layer is made with green food coloring.

The top and bottom layers are made up of melted chocolate mixed with heavy cream and the remaining cookie layers are topped with a layer of raspberry jam.

How Do You Make Italian Rainbow Cookie Recipe with Almond Extract?

This recipe starts out by preparing three baking sheets with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang.

Spray the parchment-lined sheet pan with cooking spray, both under and on top of the parchment paper.

Three 9×13-inch baking pans are recommended but as long as your pans are all the same size, I say go for it. This

Sprinkle the top of the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper with a sprinkling of all-purpose flour.

In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed using the paddle attachment, mix the almond paste with the sugar. After the two ingredients are mixed well, add in the softened butter, not melted butter, just soft enough to mix well.

Add in the kosher salt and then slowly incorporate the flour, followed by the large eggs. I did this in a few second intervals to prevent the flour mixture from spilling over the sides of the bowl.

You can also use a handheld electric mixer for this step if you do not have a stand mixer. Just be sure to hit all of the sides of a large bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients well.

Assembling this Rainbow Cookie Recipe

The next step is to divide dough into three different bowls. One bowl will be for the red, the second bowl will be for the green, and the third bowl is just so you can make sure you grabbed the correct amount.

I use three of the same bowls because it makes it easier to divide the dough by eye and separate it into equal portions. If you want the perfect rainbow cookies, you can use a food scale to measure the dough evenly before you divide the batter.

Add 20 drops of red food coloring to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Add about 15-20 green drops to another bowl and mix.

Feel free to add more or less of the food coloring to reach the shade of color you want for your rainbow cookies. You could skip the food coloring step if you want only white cake layer after layer.

Or use whatever colors you like to make a different flag. Red white and blue for the fourth of July or create a dessert representing your favorite team colors for a super bowl celebration.

After the colors are mixed, add the pink layer to a pan, the green layer, and then the white layer to the prepared pans. Spread out evenly in a thin layer.

Italian Rainbow Cookie Recipe Almond Extract

Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Don’t overbake, the cake batter tends to brown on the edges, especially on the uncolored layer but you can trim the small pieces of the crust when the cakes have cooled.

Allow cakes to cool completely before attempting to trim edges to even up the sides of the cake.

Leave the green layer on the baking sheet, add raspberry jelly or if you prefer, apricot jam, to this layer, and then add the white layer on top. Add the remaining jam to the top of the white layer and then place the final pink layer on top.

After you transfer layers, flip the cookie sheet protected by the parchment paper on top of the cake.

Add something heavy like a cutting board with some cans on top to encourage the layers to gel together. Wrap the entire stack in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, at least 6.

You may have noticed in my photos that I decided to only add a raspberry layer on top of the white layer. I suggest you do both sides of the white layer, this was a regrettable oversight on my part.

Italian Rainbow Cookie Recipe Almond Extract

Rainbow Cookie Recipe Chocolate Layers

Once the rainbow cookies have cooled completely, take them out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap, heavy cans, and cutting board.

Add half of the melted chocolate, (semisweet chocolate chips) to a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave until melted. Add in heavy cream and stir until completely mixed.

You could also use the double boiler method to heat the chocolate but the microwave method makes quick work of it. so this is my go-to method to melt chocolate.

Spread the chocolate on top of the rainbow cookies using an offset spatula to create a smooth surface.

Place the rainbow cookies back in the refrigerator for about half an hour. Once cooled and the chocolate has set, flip the entire cake onto a clean baking sheet.

Heat up the rest of the chocolate and spread it on top. I used a serrated knife to create a design on top and then created lines that grabbed the wet chocolate as I ran across the surface.

Return the cookies to the refrigerator for the chocolate to set and then using a sharp knife, cut them into whatever size pieces you would like.

chocolate top of Neapolitan cookies

Can Italian Rainbow Cookies be Frozen?

Yes, you can freeze Italian rainbow cookies. Due to the sponge cake-like texture, they taste much like they do when freshly baked. This rainbow cookie recipe doesn’t dry out or lose flavor like some baked goods that were once frozen, they thaw out nicely at room temperature.

When freezing rainbow cookies, be sure to do so in an airtight container. They will stay good for a few months when stored properly.

This makes it easy to prepare cookie gifts for the holidays. Make a bunch for Thanksgiving and then store some in the freezer for Christmas!

tricolore Italian flag cookies

More Delicious Cookie Recipes

These No Egg Chocolate Chip Cookies are soft and amazingly chewy, for several days after making.

This Easy Empire Biscuits Recipe will show you how to make a delicious sandwich cookie topped with homemade frosting. 

Wondering what to do with leftover instant oatmeal packets? Learn how to make oatmeal cookies from instant oatmeal. So chewy and delicious you will prefer this way of making this family favorite from now on.

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Italian Rainbow Cookie Recipe

tricolore Italian flag cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 and 1/2 Sticks of Butter
  • 4 Large eggs
  • 1 Cup of Sugar
  • 8 Ounces of Almond Paste
  • 1 and 1/2 Teaspoons of Almond Extract
  • 2 Cups of All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 12 ounces of Chocolate
  • 2 Teaspoons of Heavy Cream
  • 12 Ounces of of Raspberry Jam or Preserves
  • Red and Green Food Coloring (About 15-20 drops each)

Instructions

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees and then prepare three baking sheets with parchment paper, allowing a 2-inch overhang.

    Spray the parchment-lined sheet pan with cooking spray, both under and on top of the parchment paper.

    Three 9x13-inch baking pans are recommended but as long as your pans are all the same size, I say go for it. This

    Sprinkle the top of the cookie sheets lined with parchment paper with a sprinkling of all-purpose flour.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed using the paddle attachment, mix the almond paste with the sugar. After the two ingredients are mixed well, add in the softened butter, not melted butter, just soft enough to mix well.

    Add in the kosher salt and then slowly incorporate the flour, followed by the large eggs. I did this in a few second intervals to prevent the flour mixture from spilling over the sides of the bowl.

    You can also use a handheld electric mixer for this step if you do not have a stand mixer. Just be sure to hit all of the sides of a large bowl to incorporate all of the ingredients well.

    The next step is to divide dough into three different bowls. One bowl will be for the red, the second bowl will be for the green, and the third bowl is just so you can make sure you grabbed the correct amount.

    I use three of the same bowls because it makes it easier to divide the dough by eye and separate it into equal portions. If you want the perfect rainbow cookies, you can use a food scale to measure the dough evenly before you divide the batter.

    Add 20 drops of red food coloring to one bowl and mix thoroughly. Add about 15-20 green drops to another bowl and mix.

    After the colors are mixed, add the pink layer to a pan, the green layer, and then the white layer to the prepared pans. Spread out evenly in a thin layer.

    Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. Don't overbake, the cake batter tends to brown on the edges, especially on the uncolored layer but you can trim the small pieces of the crust when the cakes have cooled.

    Allow cakes to cool completely before attempting to trim edges to even up the sides of the cake.

    Leave the green layer on the baking sheet, add raspberry jelly or if you prefer, apricot jam, to this layer, and then add the white layer on top. Add the remaining jam to the top of the white layer and then place the final pink layer on top.

    After you transfer layers, flip the cookie sheet protected by the parchment paper on top of the cake.

    Add something heavy like a cutting board with some cans on top to encourage the layers to gel together. Wrap the entire stack in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours, at least 6

    Once the rainbow cookies have cooled completely, take them out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap, heavy cans, and cutting board.

    Add half of the melted chocolate, (semisweet chocolate chips) to a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave until melted. Add in heavy cream and stir until completely mixed.

    Spread the chocolate on top of the rainbow cookies using an offset spatula to create a smooth surface.

    Place the rainbow cookies back in the refrigerator for about half an hour. Once cooled and the chocolate has set, flip the entire cake onto a clean baking sheet.

    Heat up the rest of the chocolate and spread it on top. I used a serrated knife to create a design on top and then created lines that grabbed the wet chocolate as I ran across the surface.

    Return the cookies to the refrigerator for the chocolate to set and then using a sharp knife, cut them into whatever size pieces you would like.

The Hobby Wife

The Hobby Wife

Greenhouse and backyard gardener, devoted homemaker, and passionate recipe creator. My journey through life revolves around my unwavering love for food and travel. As a passionate cook, I blend my garden's bounty with culinary finesse and inspiration from my travels. From farm-to-table homestyle dishes to copycat recipes that offer something unique, my kitchen is a canvas where flavors harmonize and ingredients tell stories.

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