Rainbow Cookies

Rainbow Cookies

 Kristina Vanni

  • Total: 90 mins
  • Prep: 45 mins
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Refrigerate: 30 mins
  • Yield: 36 cookies

Rainbow cookies originated in Italian immigrant communities of the United States during the 1900’s 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 use, 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.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces almond paste
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 10 drops red food coloring
  • 10 drops green food coloring
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  2. Grease three 9x13-inch identical baking pans. Line the pans with wax paper and grease the paper.

    For convenience, it is best to have three identical baking pans. However, you can still make the cookies with only one pan if you bake one batch of dough at a time. Cooling and cleaning the pans after each bake.

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  3. Crumble the almond paste into a large mixer bowl. Add the butter, 1/2 cup of the sugar, the egg yolks, and salt. Beat until light and fluffy.

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  4. Stir in the flour until just blended.

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  5. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Increase the speed to high. Continue beating until the egg whites form soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  6. Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture. Then, gradually fold in the remaining whites. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  7. Evenly divide the batter into three bowls. Fold the red food coloring into one of the bowls. Fold the green food coloring into another. Keep the batter in the third bowl without any food coloring. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  8. Spread each bowl of batter into a separate prepared pan, smoothing out evenly with a spatula. Bake the layers for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cake is just set and very lightly colored around the edges. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  9. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then lift the layers onto cooling racks, leaving the wax paper attached. Allow to cool completely. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  10. Using the paper to lift one layer, gently invert the red cake and place it paper-side up on a large tray. Carefully peel off the paper

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  11. Spread with a thin layer of the raspberry jam. 

    Rainbow Cookies
    Kristina Vanni 
  12. Set the white layer paper-side up on top of the red layer. Remove the paper and spread the cake with the apricot jam. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  13. Place the green layer paper-side up on top. Peel off the paper. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  14. Bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer in the bottom half of a double boiler or a small saucepan. Place the chocolate chips in the top half of the double boiler or in a small heatproof bowl that fits comfortably over the saucepan. Place the bowl over the simmering water. Let stand uncovered until the chocolate is softened. Stir until smooth. Pour the melted chocolate on top of the cake layers and spread it smooth with a spatula.

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  15. Refrigerate until the chocolate is just beginning to set, about 15 minutes. (Do not let it get too hard, or it will crack when you cut it.)

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  16. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. With a large knife and a ruler as a guide, trim the edges of the cake to make the layers straight and even all around. 

    Again, using a straight edge as a guide, cut the cake lengthwise into 9 strips by first cutting it into thirds, then cutting each third into thirds. Then, cut crosswise into 4 pieces. Chill the cut cake in the pan in the refrigerator until the chocolate is firm. 

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  17. Serve or transfer the cookies to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator.

    Rainbow Cookies
     Kristina Vanni
  18. These keep well for several weeks in the refrigerator.