Italian Rainbow Cookies Recipe


When it comes to cookies, you’re not going to get more Italian than these Italian Rainbow Cookies.  I’ve made a few batches of these over the last couple weeks and my husband couldn’t be happier.  They remind him of when he was a little kid living in the suburbs of New York.  It’s possible these colorful cookies by-passed Italy altogether and originated in New York, mainly the Bronx.

If you visit any Italian bakery there, you’re sure to find the Italian rainbow cookie dead center in the middle of their display case,  as did Denise, a Gina At Home follower.  Denise took a picture of the bakery display in a New York Italian bakery and was sweet enough to share it with all of us on facebook – I knew I had the best followers!  Denise also asked if I could help her out and share a good Italian rainbow cookie recipe with her.  She hasn’t had much luck making these and needs some guidance.  THANK YOU DENISE!  This is the best part of what I do.  As I mentioned, I have made a few batches of these cookies over the last couple weeks.  They are one of the cookies in my cookie book that will be available soon (stay tuned), so Denise’s timing couldn’t have been better.

After mulling over multiple recipes that I have, playing with them and consulting with my mother (of course),  I can see where Denise had a few problems.  Then I checked the rainbow cookie recipes that are available online on some of the big cooking site.  I wanted to see where people are going  wrong.  The biggest discrepancy I found in the various recipes is the pan size.  Some recipes called for jelly roll pans, some for 9×13 baking pans and some for 8 x8 baking pans.  The ingredients amounts differ too and still used the same size pans, and it went on and on.  After a lot of trial and error and tweaking (not twerking!) I finally have a fool proof Italian rainbow cookie recipe to share with all of you.  Yay!

Other than the recipe, I want to share a few helpful hints.  Ready?

Stand mixers make everything better and I love my Kitchen-Aid.  (We have an arrangement with Kitchen-Aid where you can get 10% off and free shipping, just use code A10SHIP).  If you don’t have one or don’t want to buy one, a hand held will do.  This recipe has been adjusted for 8×8 baking pans.  If you don’t have 3, the layers can be made one at a time, cleaning and re-using the pan for each layer but the process will take you longer.  If you have gel food coloring (like I used), it doesn’t ‘drop’ so you will have to make 15-20 little dots in the batter.  Bowls with handles are much easier to work with and are easier on your wrists and joints.  I use stainless steel All Clad mixing bowls (love them), they come in a set of 3 and are worth every penny.  Please use parchment paper to line your pans and leave wax paper for non heat activities (such as layering the cookie with chocolate).   Hmm….I think that’s it.

Are you ready to make these? Yes Denise, I’m talking to you 🙂  I think you should make them and let me know all about them and if you can, post a pic on my Facebook page so everyone else can be proud of you too!


italian rainbow cookies recipe from the classic tradition of christmas cookie

A mountain I would like to climb

Italian Rainbow Cookies Recipe

You will need, 3 x 8×8 cake pans & 3 mixing bowls

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cup butter, room temperature plus extra for greasing pans

7 oz almond paste

½ tsp almond extract

3 eggs, large

1½ cup AP flour, sifted plus more for dusting

¼ tsp salt

15-20 drops red food coloring

15-20 drops green food coloring

1-12 oz jar apricot (traditional) or raspberry preserves

6 oz semisweet chocolate

2 tsp butter flavored Crisco preferably or vegetable shortening


Prepare the three 8×8 baking pans by greasing the bottoms, lining with parchment paper and greasing again over the parchment paper and then dusting with flour.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium/high speed, cream sugar, butter, almond paste and almond extract.  Reduce speed to medium/low and add eggs one at a time until blended.  Reduce speed to low and slowly add flour and salt in batches until just combined.

Separate dough equally into 3 bowls, approximately 1-1¼ cup of batter per bowl.  Add and stir the red food coloring to the first bowl, the green food coloring to the second bowl and leave the third bowl plain.

Spoon the red batter into a baking pan and spread evenly over the entire surface, ¼ inch thick.  Do the same with the green batter in its baking pan and the plain batter in its pan.

Bake on 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

Remove and let cool in the baking pans for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, run a knife along the edges to loosen from pan.  Place a piece of wax paper on a flat surface.  Starting with the green layer, flip it over onto the wax paper.  Gently peel off the parchment paper.  Spread ⅓ cup of apricot preserves onto the green layer.  Take the plain layer and flip it on top of the green layer.  Press down gently and remove the parchment paper.  Spread another ⅓ cup of the apricot preserves onto the plain layer.  Take the remaining red layer and flip it over onto the plain layer.  Press down gently and remove the parchment paper.

In a saucepan, heat the chocolate and the butter flavored Crisco over low heat, stirring constantly.  Spread the chocolate over the red layer evenly.  Do not chocolate the sides.  Refrigerate for 1 hour or until completely cool.  When cool, remove from refrigerator and flip over onto wax paper so the chocolate side is on the bottom and the green layer is on the top.  Heat remaining chocolate in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl on medium/low for 20 seconds or on stove in a saucepan on low.  Once heated, spread the chocolate evenly over the green layer.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.  Using a sharp knife, trim ¼” from the edges.  Cut into 6 strips and cut each strip into 6 pieces.  You can cut them bigger if you want.


Tools of the Trade:

KichenAid Stand Mixer (more colors)


Stainless Steel All Clad Mixing Bowls


KitchenAid 8 x8 Pans

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