Rainbow Cookies

rainbow cookies

Tis the season for Christmas baking!

When I was growing up Christmas was always the best time of year because, aside from all the Christmas presents, it meant Mom was going to be baking loads of delicious cookies. Cookies for family, friends, for Santa, and of course, for us kids.

Actually, come to think of it, nothing has really changed. Mom still bakes up a ton of delicious cookies, and it’s still one of my favorite things about the holidays. (Does that mean I’m still a kid at heart?)

rainbow cookies

I’ve never baked Christmas cookies. Helping Mom out in the kitchen doesn’t really count. Let’s be honest, helping Mom bake cookies is more about eating raw cookie dough, making a mess, and stealing a couple hot from the oven cookies while you don’t think Mom is looking (but just like Santa, she sees everything).

A few weeks back I heard that there was a blogger cookie swap going on. Premise seemed simple enough. If you’re a food blogger and sign up, you bake and ship a dozen cookies each to three “secret” bloggers you’re assigned. Likewise, three other bloggers secretly ship you a batch of their cookie creations. It was a fun idea so I signed up (and if you’re a blogger and would like, you can sign up for next year).

rainbow cookies

Since Christmas cookies were always my Mom’s domain, I asked her for some suggestions. She gave me one of her cookie books, a little pocket sized book Field Guide to Cookies by Anita Chu, suggesting I take a look through it. Bonus points to this book because it has pictures for every recipe. I’m a visual baker. I need to see what a recipe ends up looking like before I can cook it, words alone just don’t excite me.

Anyway, I came across this rainbow cookie and new right away I had to make it. Have you ever had them? They also go by the name of Italian tri-color cookies or Venetian cookies. They are a very dense, almost cake-like almond cookie covered with a bitter chocolate. I first had them a few Christmas’ ago when Nana brought a store bought package for dessert. The cookbook had claimed that they get even better a few days after baking, so they seemed a great cookie to make and share for the cookie swap.

rainbow cookies

Now I must warn you, these cookies do require a bit of effort to create. Having an 8 month old, we generally share recipes that are relatively quick and easy to complete. Rainbow cookies aren’t challenging, they are just time consuming. Spreading the three different colored cookie dough into the trays, layering them, cutting, and covering with chocolate; this was a weekend project for us spread across multiple naps. A labor of love. But absolutely worth it. I’ll be baking these again next week for my family. Who knows, maybe these Rainbow cookies will be my tradition, second only to Mom’s. :)


Yield: About 7 dozen 1 1/2 by 3/4 inch cookies


  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 10 oz almond paste
  • 1 1/4 cups softened unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 drops green food coloring
  • 6 drops red food coloring
  • 6 tablespoons seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • *Note: Use a good quality almond paste. Almond paste is similar to marzipan but generally has a higher percentage of almonds and therefore a stronger almond flavor. It's best used in baking.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line three 9 x 13 inch pans with parchment paper, placing the parchment so that it hangs over the opposite sides of each pan (for easy removal after baking).
  2. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Transfer whites to a large metal bowl and set aside.
  3. Chop almond paste into small chunks, about 1/4 inch.
  4. In a stand mixer, beat butter on medium speed for several minutes until smooth. Add almond paste, and beat on medium speed until light in color and fully incorporated.
  5. Add sugar, and beat to combine. Add egg yolks and vanilla and almond extracts, and mix to combine.
  6. Combine flour and salt, and add it to the dough in 3 additions, mixing thoroughly between each.
  7. Fold egg whites, by hand, into dough in three additions, using a rubber spatula. If egg whites have lost their stiff peaks, simply re-whip by hand with a large whisk.
  8. Divide dough into 3 equal portions and place in 3 mixing bowls. Add green food coloring to one bowl and red to another and mix each to combine. Leave the third bowl untinted.
  9. Spread each bowl of dough into individual pans, using an offset spatula to even out the surface of the dough. Bake for 8 to 11 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until top and edges begin to turn golden. Let cool for a few minutes, then carefully lift (or turn out if necessary) each sheet onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
  10. Once cool, flip each cookie layer onto a flat surface and peel off parchment paper. Flip green cookie layer onto a large piece of plastic wrap.
  11. Spread a thin layer of raspberry preserves on top of the green cookie layer. Place the plain (untinted) layer of cookie on top and line up the edges.
  12. Spread a thin layer of raspberry preserves on top of the plain cookie layer, then place the red cookie layer on top.
  13. Wrap up cookie layers with plastic wrap. Sandwich cookie between two heavy cutting boards or two large books, and refrigerate. Chill for at least 3 hours, flipping cookie several tips.
  14. Removie cookie from fridge and place on cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut six 1 1/2 inch horizontal strips lengthwise (13 inches long).
  15. Set up a wire rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch any chocolate drips. Place 2 cookie strips on the rack, leaving enough room between to reach all sides with a spatula.
  16. Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a simmering pot of water on the stove, stirring occasionally so it melts evenly.
  17. Pour chocolate along tops of cookies, allowing it to drip over the sides. Spread chocolate evenly, using an offset spatula, to cover top and sides.
  18. Transfer to a flat surface and allow chocolate to set (the chocolate is not tempered, so it will not set completely and will remain slightly tacky). Repeat process with remaining cookie strips, reheating chocolate as needed.
  19. Once chocolate is set, cut strips into individual pieces, approximately 3/4 inch in length. Clean knife in between cuts for a flawless cookie.

rainbow cookies

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