Italian Rainbow Cookies

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Three layers of almond sponge cake are tied together with sticky apricot jam and topped with chocolate to make these Italian rainbow cookies. The layers are colored green, white and red to represent the Italian flag.

The process of making them is not difficult or all that time consuming the way I assumed it would be. They require only one batter that is split up into three equal portions. One is left plain, one is tinted with green food color and the last is tinted red.

They are each spread very thinly over a baking sheet where they take all of 10 minutes to bake. Then they are stacked and layered with apricot jam (or raspberry) and smooshed together. That’s right. Smooshed. As in smashed. You put a baking sheet on top of them and weigh it down with cans for a few hours so the spongy, almond-paste-infused cake can soak up some of the jam and flatten into a dense cake.

Yes, that means there’s wait time. The hardest part. Waiting to shove them in your mouth because they’re so freaking irresistible.

After the cake melds together it’s topped with chocolate and cut into squares.

That’s when the shoveling ensues. Beware of flying crumbs.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Three layers of almond sponge cake are tied together with sticky apricot jam and topped with chocolate to make these Italian rainbow cookies. The layers are colored green, white and red to represent the Italian flag.


8 ounces almond paste
1 cup granulated sugar
2 + ½ sticks (1 + 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened, cut into pieces, plus more for the pans
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted (measure first), plus more for the pans
1 teaspoon red food coloring, gel or paste preferred
1 teaspoon green food coloring, gel or paste preferred
2 (15-ounce jars) smooth apricot or raspberry jam
1 pound semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped small
1 teaspoon melted shortening


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour three 15-by-10-inch rimmed sheet pans and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment paper.
  2. Mix the almond paste and all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until you have fine crumbles. On low speed add the butter, a little at a time and mix until well combined.
  3. On low speed add the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until smooth. Beat in salt and flour on low speed until just combined.
  4. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until foamy while slowly adding the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, continue beating on medium speed until stiff peaks form. When the beater is lifted the whites should stay stuck to it.
  5. Fold about a third of the egg whites into the batter to start then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
  6. Divide the batter evenly into three bowls. Leave one bowl plain. Add red food coloring to the second stirring to make a deep-salmon color. Add green food coloring to the last bowl, stirring to make a medium-green color.
  7. Spread batter into each of the prepared pans with an offset spatula as evenly as you can - it will be very thin. Bake, rotating pans to opposite racks, until cakes are cooked through and just beginning to brown around the edges, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cakes cook completely on wire racks.
  8. Put the green cake on a large cutting board and spread one jar of jam evenly over the cake almost to the edges. Top with the plain layer. Spread the remaining jar of jam over the plain layer almost to the edges. Top with the red layer.
  9. Top the red layer with a piece of parchment then wrap the entire cake in plastic. Top with another pan, weighted with cans. Chill in a cool place or in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.
  10. Unwrap the cake. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or using the chocolate setting on your microwave until smooth. Stir in the shortening.
  11. Pour the chocolate over the top the cake and spread it evenly from edge to edge with an offset spatula. Allow the chocolate to set in a cool place or in the refrigerator. If you like you can run a fork through the chocolate when it is halfway set from one end to the other, slightly undulating it so it looks like waves, repeating until it is entirely striped.
  12. Use a serrated knife to cut into rows then cut the rows into squares or rectangles. Wipe the knife clean with a wet cloth after each cut. Store in a tightly covered container in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator up to 1 week.


Adapted from Lidia Bastianich

Here's a step-by-step tutorial

Copyright ©2013 Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice by Reeni Pisano All Rights Reserved


  1. Beth R. says

    Iv been making these cookies since the early 90s, the recipe was in a special Christmas addition magazine. I switched up the recipe a little and covered the second and third layer with melted chocolate chips then raspberry jam. I would put them together except for the top chocolate layer, cover with plastic wrap or waxpaper then 2 or 3 heavy books for 24 hours then cover the top with the chocolate layer. My kids would call them Italian Cookies or Christmas Cookies.

    • Reeni says

      Hi Beth! Thanks for sharing your method with me! I’m going to use raspberry jam next time to change it up a little and I love the idea of layering the chocolate too! Makes them extra yummy! Happy New Year! :-)

  2. Becki's Whole Life says

    These are completely adorable and I love that you smoosh them together because everything tastes better like that (panini’s??) The almond flavor got me, too…Italian cookies are always a favorite!

  3. Tammy says

    OMG I completely forgot about these! I haven’t had rainbow cookies in ages…oh and how pretty they are!

    Happy New Year my sweet friend! Wishing you, Moon and all your loved ones a very wonderful and special New Year. Cheers to a beautiful and even more delicious year of blogging.

    Love you!


    • Reeni says

      Happy New Year sweet girl! Wishing you the best! I missed you! Glad to reconnect – I’ll be stopping by your blog soon! Hope you and your family had a great holiday(s)! Love ya! xoxo

      • Tammy says

        Yes! It’s been the craziest of years. I feel like I’ve lost contact with so many old friends. Looking forward to catching up this year…a nice clean fresh start! :D


      • Reeni says

        Me too Tammy! I’m trying to fit in more blog reading the way I used to. It’s so hard – it takes a backseat when I’m busy. I have to get into a routine again. Do you still have your own separate blog too? xoxo

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