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Rainbow Cookies

May 2021
Rainbow cookies
Suggested by Bernard Deconinck
UW Department of Applied Mathematics

This is adapted from a well-known traditional recipe, easily found on line, sometimes referred to as Rainbow Cake. I use more eggs, and my chocolate covering is better than the recipe I started from 20 years ago. 

Rainbow cookies originate in Italy, but Italian Americans added the color scheme to celebrate their heritage. The yellow layer used to be a white layer, so you'd have the Italian flag. My wife's family is partially Italian American and these used to be her favorite cookies. My first time making these, I sent her a care package when she was down in Mississippi helping out after Hurricane Katrina. The main compliment I received was that her grandmother didn't serve them when the family came over, but reserved them to share with her best friends, proudly proclaiming her grandson-in-law made them. When one of my PhD students graduates, I always throw them a dessert party when we're not in a pandemic. These are always featured and popular. 


  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 12 ounces almond paste
  • 2 sticks of butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 12 drops of food coloring each of green, red, yellow
  • Raspberry jam (6.5 oz)
  • Apricot jam (6.5 oz)
  • 200 grams Chocolate chips, plus 1/3 cup of cream, plus 25 grams butter for chocolate glaze
  • Chocolate sprinkles


  • Grease three 13x9 deep baking pans, and line each with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper.
  • Separate eggs yolks (big bowl) and egg whites (smaller bowl).
  • Add almond paste, butter and sugar to yolks.
  • Knead until smooth (can be done with hands).
  • Gradually add in flour. Knead until smooth.
  • Beat egg whites with a tablespoon of sugar until solid.
  • Fold egg whites into dough.
  • Separate dough in three equal parts (roughly).
  • Color each part with a different color.
  • Spread dough parts in baking pans, try to get full coverage and as level as possible.
  • Bake all three parts at 350F for 12 minutes.
  • Remove from pans onto wire racks. Remove all parchment paper. Let cool.
  • Place green layer on large piece of plastic wrap.
  • Spread evenly with raspberry jam.
  • Top with yellow layer.
  • Spread evenly with apricot jam.
  • Top with red layer.
  • Wrap completely with plastic wrap. Put in fridge overnight, covered with something heavy, like a phone book.
  • Melt 200 grams chocolate chips with 1/3 cup of cream and 25 grams butter, making chocolate sauce. Let cool until it thickens. 
  • Spread evenly on top of red layer, and sides if you have enough sauce.
  • Add sprinkles, mush them into the chocolate sauce a little.
  • Let cool in fridge.
  • Cut with sharp hot knife. Clean knife regularly. Discard edge pieces (i.e., eat on the spot).

See "Treats from Faculty Bakers" for more recipes.