Italian Rainbow Cookies

Before leaving NY, we lived in Brooklyn, Cobble Hill to be exact, on a quaint treelined street called Clinton.  It was a lovely old Italian area filled with old-school butchers, bakeries, lovely people, and Italian rainbow cookies.

Not your typical “cookie” more cake-like, but something I love and have fond memories of.  Brightly colored, almond-based sponge cake with raspberry jam and a chocolate coating, these little cake cookies have character.  Although many Italian cookies use almond paste as their base, rainbow cookies or “flag cookies“, as they are often called, are, said to be, according to well-known Italian celebrity chef personality Lidia Bastianich, cookies that were created by early Italian immigrants during the 1900’s in homage to the colors of their native flag.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Despite an exhaustive search, I have never found these cookies in Northern California, so I simply taught myself how to make them.  I will warn you, this is a labor-intensive recipe so beware.  Soft but hearty, rainbow cookies which actually feel more like a cake cookie, have a pronounced almond flavor that nicely compliments the sweet jam filling and chocolate coating.

Because of their time-consuming nature (and the fact that my kids don’t actually like them as much as I do), I don’t make them all that often, but my husband and I adore them and they will forever remind me of Brooklyn so I’ll keep making them.

Italian Rainbow Cookies

This cake will not be perfect so don’t panic, that’s completely ok. A pressed tri-level cake such as this will have unevenness and inconsistencies and that is completely fine. This is a fun recipe to play around with.  I have made all kinds of shapes and sizes with it including a large 40th birthday cake cut out in the shape of actual numbers.  Go ahead, get creative.

About the Author

Andrea Potischman

I am a professionally trained NYC chef turned CA mom and food blogger. I post about real food, with doable ingredient lists that are family friendly.

4 thoughts on "Italian Rainbow Cookies"

  1. Avatar photo SmilynStef says:

    I always search for these when I travel … I usually find them dipped in chocolate, but this looks like it would let the cake/cookie really shien through.

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. We must be related, I look for them everywhere as well 🙂 You can completely cover them in chocolate, but this is how I know them best and like you said, it allows the cake to shine through.

      1. Avatar photo Del Grimm says:

        I found this recipe in a magazine about 25 yrs. ago and have made them -only at Christmas – every year since. I have never added the sprinkles but it looks like a good idea. They are WORTH the time and effort to mae. Del in Canada

        1. Love hearing this Del. These are special cookies indeed and worth the effort if you ask my boys. The sprinkles make the world of difference. Happy baking to you. Stay safe.

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