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Rainbow Cookies

Rainbow Horizontal1

During the 1900s, Rainbow cookies were created in Italian immigrant communities in the United States to commemorate their home nation. Because of the resemblance to the Italian flag, the cookies are also referred to as "tricolore." An almond-based sponge cake, raspberry and apricot jam, and a chocolate coating are used to create the cookie's brightly-colored layers. Different names have been applied to the cookie over the years, including Napoleon, Venetian, tricolor, or seven-layer cookie or cake. 

Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe migrated to New York at the turn of the 20th century, where they resided in areas with other immigrants, such as the Italians.  As a result, Jewish Americans became interested in rainbow cookies and altered them to fit their own dietary needs, substituting margarine for the original butter. We went one step further using Italian extra virgin olive oil to keep it dairy free, but with a healthier twist that seemed perfect for these Jewish Italian cookies. They are also credited with the change to a rainbow design that we see today, which changed the white layer to yellow.  Sometimes you can find them in blue and white for Hanukkah celebrations. 

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 36 cookiesServings


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1½ cups (12 ounces) packed almond paste, room temperature
  • 1½ cups Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • 6 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 1½ teaspoons almond extract
  • ½ teaspoon each red and green natural food coloring, plus more as needed
  • ½ cup apricot preserves
  • ½ cup raspberry preserves
  • 3 cups dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease three (3) 9x13-inch baking pans with olive oil. Line baking pans with parchment paper sling, pushing parchment into corners and up sides of pans.

2. Sift flour and salt together in medium bowl. Finely grate almond paste into a separate large bowl. Whisk in olive oil, sugar, milk, egg yolks and almond extract until light in color, about 3 to 5 minutes. Mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing well between each addition, until just combined.

3. Whisk egg white in large bowl until stiff peaks form, about 1 minute. Fold egg whites into batter until just combined.

4. Spread one-third of the batter evenly into one of the prepared baking pans. Divide remaining batter evenly between 2 medium bowls. Add food coloring to each bowl. Stir gently to combine, adjusting shades as desired.

5. Spread red and green batters evenly into separate prepared baking pans. Bake, rotating baking pans halfway through, until edges are light golden-brown, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on wire rack before removing from baking pan, about 1 hour.

6. Transfer green layer onto a baking sheet. Spread apricot preserves evenly over green layer. Carefully place uncolored layer on top. Spread raspberry preserves evenly over uncolored layer. Top with red layer.

7. Microwave chocolate in small microwave-safe glass bowl on high for 1 minute, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Spread half the melted chocolate evenly over the red layer. Refrigerate until chocolate is set, about 15 minutes.

8. Microwave chocolate again on high for 1 minute, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Flip cake over, chocolate-side-down, and spread the remaining melted chocolate evenly over the green layer. Refrigerate again until chocolate is set, about 15 minutes. Slice into 36 rectangles. Store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve.

Tip: If your almond paste is too hard, simply microwave on high for 30 seconds until softened.