When planning my Christmas baking, these Italian rainbow cookies are one of my very first to make. I bake them two weeks before Christmas as this allows the flavors to mellow and both the raspberry and apricot jams layered between the sponge cakes keeps these dense rainbow cookies moist and packed with flavor.
If you love almond scented cookies then you will adore these little morsels of deliciousness.These rainbow cookies have graced my Christmas cookie tray for many years and have always been one of the first to disappear.
I have always made these cookies with store bought almond paste, however this year I decided to forgo the store bought and made homemade almond paste. It is fairly easy to make, with just a few simple ingredients, a blender and it is far more superior! However if making your own seems somewhat daunting, by all means go for the store bought…whatever works for you is fine.
This almond paste recipe works really well and yields approximately 2 cups, but note that you will only need 1 cup for my rainbow cookies. It is made with a simple syrup which renders the almond paste with a loose like consistency and not as pasty as the the store bought variety. The remaining almond paste can be refrigerated for one month or frozen for up to three months. Or just simply make half of the almond paste recipe.
So lets start baking!!
Once the cookie dough is equally divided, use the 8 to 10 drops as a guideline. You can go as bright or as pale as you like. Just keep adding more drops till you get the desired shade.
When ready to assemble the layers, be sure to have a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper ready. Starting with the green cookie layer, invert onto parchment lined cookie sheet, spread with the raspberry jam, top with white cookie layer,spread with apricot jam and top with pink cookie layer.
Cover with plastic wrap and place another cookie sheet (or heavy flat pan) over to compress the layers together and chill overnight.
Melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl, spread evenly over the pink cookie layer and sprinkle generously with chocolate jimmies. Let set.
Once the chocolate is set, trim off the edges with a sharp knife.
When ready to serve, cut 1/2 inch strips across the width and then each strip into 4 pieces.
These rainbow cookies are wonderful any time of the year but are extra special for Christmas and will impress your guests!
Italian Rainbow Cookies
- ALMOND PASTE
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup corn syrup
- 1 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 1 1/4 cup icing sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 cup almond paste home made or store bought
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 large eggs separated
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 8-10 drops red food coloring
- 8-10 drops green food coloring
- 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
- 1/3 cup apricot jam
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- chocolate sprinkles jimmies
Make the Almond Paste: Combine the water, granulated sugar and the corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and set aside.
Place the almonds and icing sugar in a food processor or a blender and pulse until combined. Gradually add the sugar syrup and the almond extract and pulse again until further combined. Set aside. Yields approximately 2 cups but you will only need 1 cup for the rainbow cookies. (you can use the remaining cup in a different recipe).
Butter three, 13 inch by 9 inch baking pans (or use 1 pan). Line the pans with parchment paper and butter the paper.
Preheat oven to 350*F
In a large bowl, cream together the almond paste, butter, sugar and egg yolks until fluffy and smooth. Stir in the flour.
In a small mixing bowl, beat the egg whites (with clean beaters) until soft peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the dough until it is thoroughly blended.
Divide the dough equally among three small bowls. Color one portion with the red food coloring and one with the green and leave the third portion uncolored. Spread each portion into the prepared pans, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.
Bake in preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes, until the edges are a light golden brown.
Transfer the pans on a cooling rack.
Once cooled, invert the green layer onto a cookie sheet and peel off the parchment paper. Spread the raspberry jam evenly all over. Top with the uncolored layer and spread evenly with the apricot jam. Top with the pink layer and cover with saran wrap. Set a cookie sheet on top to compress the layers together. Refrigerate overnight.
The next day, melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 15 second intervals until melted. Spread the chocolate over the pink layer and set aside to harden. Once the chocolate is set, trim off the edges with a sharp knife.
To serve, cut 1/2 inch strips across the width and then each strip into 4 pieces. Store in airtight container and keep refrigerated.
The Almond Paste recipe is adapted from Krystina Castella 's Crazy About Cookies.
Her Almond Paste recipe is made with a simple syrup which gives it a more loose consistency and not as pasty as the store bought variety. Having said that, it works extremely well in the recipe but feel free to use your favorite brand, whichever your most comfortable with. (updated December 18, 2016)