Italian Rainbow Cookies Recipe

3 layers of moist almond-flavored cake are dyed to represent the Italian flag before being draped in a dark chocolate glaze and cut into squares for this classic cookie recipe.
italian-rainbow-cookies-recipe
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Makes about 9 dozen
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 3 hours

INGREDIENTS 

for the almond paste: 
5 cups plus 2 tablespoons|600 grams almond flour
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon|270 grams honey
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 ¼ cups plus 1 tablespoon|240 grams dark brown sugar
2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt 

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for the red cake:
8 ounces|224 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature 
¾ cup|165 grams plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar  
½ cup|150 grams almond paste
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons whole milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ¼ cups|165 grams all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
25 to 30 drops red food coloring

for the white cake: 
8 ounces|224 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature 
¾ cup|165 grams plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar  
½ cup|150 grams almond paste
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons whole milk 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ¼ cups|165 grams all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites

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for the green cake: 
8 ounces|224 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature 
¾ cup|165 grams plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar  
½ cup|150 grams almond paste
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon almond extract
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ¼ cups|165 grams all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
25 to 30 drops green food coloring

for the chocolate glaze:
1 ½ pounds|680 grams 70% bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped  

DIRECTIONS 

1. Make the almond paste: Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

2. Make the red cake: Heat the oven to 300°F. In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or using an electric mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, ¾ cup|165 grams of sugar, and the almond paste until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla and almond extracts and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined, then set aside. 

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3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, about 5 minutes. Stream in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whipping until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add the red food coloring to the meringue, then gently fold into the batter, starting with about ⅓ of the meringue before adding the rest, until no streaks remain. Line a half sheet tray with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Spread the batter evenly onto the sheet tray, distributing the dough evenly on the sheet tray to manipulate it less, then bake for 22 minutes, turning halfway through. When it’s done, the cake should be lightly colored on top and spring back gently to the touch. Let cool completely.

4. Make the white cake: In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or using an electric mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, ¾ cup|165 grams of sugar, and the almond paste until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla and almond extracts and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined, then set aside. 

5. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, about 5 minutes. Stream in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whipping until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gently fold the meringue into the batter, starting with about ⅓ of the meringue before adding the rest, until no streaks remain. Line a half sheet tray with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Spread the batter evenly onto the sheet tray, distributing the dough evenly on the sheet tray to manipulate it less, then bake for 22 minutes, turning halfway through. When it’s done, the cake should be lightly colored on top and spring back gently to the touch. Let cool completely. 

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6. Make the green cake: In a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or using an electric mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, ¾ cup|165 grams of sugar, and the almond paste until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla and almond extracts and mix well, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined, then set aside. 

7. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy, about 5 minutes. Stream in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whipping until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add the green food coloring to the meringue, then gently fold into the batter, starting with about ⅓ of the meringue before adding the rest, until no streaks remain. Line a half sheet tray with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Spread the batter evenly onto the sheet tray, distributing the dough evenly on the sheet tray to manipulate it less, then bake for 22 minutes, turning halfway through. When it’s done, the cake should be lightly colored on top and spring back gently to the touch. Let cool completely. 

8. Melt the chocolate: Place the chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl fitted over a medium saucepan of boiling water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring occasionally, until smooth. 

9. Assemble the cookies: Place the red cake on a large cutting board. Pour ½ cup|150 grams of the melted chocolate over the cake and, using an offset spatula, spread into an even layer over the entire cake. Place the white cake on top and repeat with an additional ½ cup|150 grams of the melted chocolate. Place the green cake on top and, using a parchment-lined sheet tray, apply pressure and weigh down the top layer so the cakes are securely attached. Repeat with the remaining ½ cup|150 grams of the melted chocolate on top of the green layer. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 15 minutes, then, using a large cutting board, flip the entire cake and glaze the bottom (red layer) with the remaining chocolate. Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 1 hour, then cut into ½-inch-by-1 ½-inch cookies. 

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