For as long as I can remember rainbow cookies have always been my favorite cookie. I remember making trips to the local bakery as a little girl and my parents getting a small box of these beautiful treats wrapped with red and white bakery string. A few times I was even able to get a birthday cake made out of these cookies! If you live in New York, rainbow cookies could be quite pricey, after making them the first time, I knew why. They are extremely labor intensive, with many steps. But making them yourself is well worth it in the end.
The first time I made these myself, I believe I was still in college and I found a recipe in one of my mom’s many cookbooks, and decided to give it a shot. I didn’t have the right equipment but the cookies were still delicious. It wasn’t until almost a decade later, where I was living in a location that never heard of rainbow cookies, that I attempted these delicious treats again, after seeing a recipe featured in Bon Appétit magazine. These were fabulous, and everyone loved them! I couldn’t stop making them, I sort of became obsessed. I would make them for holidays, customize the colors for special occasions. I even made a cake this year for the Super Bowl!
Since I feel like I mastered this recipe, I wanted to share this with all of you, so you can make these adorable cookies at home for your friends and family or even yourself!
All the ingredients you will need are flour, sugar, eggs, red and green food coloring (for traditional rainbow cookies, you can pretty much use any colors you like), chocolate, raspberry fruit spread. You will need butter…lots of butter, actually a whole pound of butter. I know that seems terrible, but it isn’t like you are eating all 96 cookies yourself. You will also need the most important ingredient, which gives rainbow cookies all their flavor…Almond Paste! You can find almond paste in the baking or specialty food section at your grocery store. Just don’t confuse it with marzipan, they are two different things. Almond paste is sometimes expensive, I stocked up during the christmas season when it was on sale. I think I ended up getting ten 8 oz boxes for $3 each, that is a steal! Normally it like $5 for 7 oz.
You will also need (3) 9×13 metal pans; I only have 2 pans, I am not sure why I have yet to buy a 3rd one, I make these often enough and it probably would make my life a little easier with a third pan. But if you have 2 pans like me, that works, you can even do it with one pan, but it will be a longer process. Take your pans and line them with foil, use enough to cover up the sides and hang over the pans, then grease with the 2 tablespoons of butter. You won’t need to use all of the 2 tablespoons, just enough to give you good coverage. I use non-stick foil (love this stuff) to ensure even more that the batter won’t stick, but if you don’t have non-stick you can use regular foil.
Next thing you have to do is separate the eggs and put the egg whites in the bowl for your stand mixer. Using a stand mixer is probably easier for this recipe, but you can also use a handheld mixer. Using the whisk attachment you want to beat the eggs until they are soft peaks, then you add 1/3 cup sugar and whip on high until you get stiff peaks. If you have a second bowl for your stand mixer, you can set the egg white bowl aside in the fridge until you are ready to use. If not, transfer the egg whites to a large bowl and place that in the fridge, and clean out your stand mixer bowl, you will need that for the next step.
In all seriousness, if you have a stand mix, I recommend you get a second mixing bowl. The 2nd bowl has probably been the most useful and helpful piece to my stand mixer. So if you are getting married and you register for a kitchenaid stand mixer, add an extra bowl!
Now in your 2nd bowl of you stand mixer (or pervious cleaned out bowl) add the almond paste, which I measured out with my scale and the remaining sugar, mix until combined. Then add in the butter, mix that until combined. Next you add the egg yolks one at a time, then the flour and salt and mix that until that is combined. Lots of combining! You will now have an overwhelming amount of batter.
After adding the egg yolks, flour and salt, you are done with the mixer! Now remove the egg whites from the fridge and in two parts fold in them into your batter. This is going to be a little bit of a workout, so take your time and take breaks. You don’t want to mix, you want to fold.
Now you can divide and estimate by eye or you can use a food scale. I really love our scale, we use it quite a bit. Just find 3 bowls that are the same size, here I am using your average cereal bowls and divide, then you can weigh them and see where you need to balance it out. Because I am a boss, I was dead on the first time around, I had my trusty scale confirm it too! When things like this happen, I feel like a fist pump in the air, rockstar…I know sad…
Now in two of the bowls, make a little well for the food coloring, my tip is once the bottle is almost empty and the food coloring starts to squirt out bubbles, stop. Like seriously, STOP! Color is about to splatter everywhere, it isn’t worth it, you are done. Just place the cap back on the vial and toss in the garbage. Mix these batter well until the food coloring is evenly distributed. If you are like me and only have 2 pans, bake the green one first, then the plain. I will just put one pan at a time in the oven, no need to rush at this point. So bake at 350℉ for 9- 11 minutes, rotating halfway through. You can test the cake with a toothpick, if it comes out clean it is done. Just let it sit in the pan for a few minutes and transfer to a wired rack. Transferring is a little bit of a process, it’s a lot easier if you have a second person to help you, but if not, just pinch the corners and lift up, moving quickly. Once the green pan has cooled, line it with a clean piece of foil and grease with the butter, now you can use it for the red batter.
While the cakes are cooling, you want to heat up the raspberry fruit spread. Just heat it for 45 seconds in a microwave safe bowl, covered with a paper towel, stir and heat again for another 45 seconds. After take the heated raspberry’s and pour through a mesh strainer into another bowl. When done, set the bowl aside to cool.
Once the cakes have cooled, starting with the red layer (since it is already in the pan) brush half the raspberry’s on top with a pastry brush. Now again, if you have second person with you this is where they will come in handy. Have them help you move the plain layer on top of the red layer. If you don’t have anyone helping you, take your time in moving the layers, if the cake breaks, it is okay, just carefully slide it over and put it back together like a puzzle. Next spread the remaining raspberries on top then add the green layer. Line the green cake with foil and top with the other 9×13 metal pan. The cake is now going to get weighed down, while it rests in your refrigerator. Just place whatever heavy items you have in your fridge in the metal pan, and let it sit for 4 hours to overnight. I normally will do overnight, I feel the longer it sits, the better.
The next day, when you are ready to finish the cookies, take the pans out of the refrigerator, remove the top pan and foil. Invert the cake onto a wax paper, lined sheet pan. Admire the pretty colors! You can place the cake back in the fridge until after you melt the chocolate. For the chocolate I recommend the best chocolate you can find, here we use Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips. I like using chips, instead of chopping up bars. That is just my personal preference, plus it reduces a step, just make sure you are using really good quality chocolate. I melt half the chocolate with 1 tablespoon of butter in a double boiler (basically a saucepan filled less than halfway up with water over medium heat and a metal bowl nestled on top of that holding the chocolate and the butter). Make sure you don’t burn yourself while holding the metal bowl down, I recommend wearing an oven mitt or ove glove. I love the ove glove!
Next spread the melted chocolate over the first side of the cake, moving quickly since the cake is cold, the chocolate will set faster. After you are done, place the cake back in the fridge for 10-20 minutes. Then in a clean bowl, repeat the melting process with the other half of the chocolate. After the chocolate has set, you will need another sheet pan lined with wax paper to flip the layers over, then repeat the process of spreading the melted chocolate on the other half and chilling in the fridge again for another 10-20 minutes.
Now you ready for the final step! I told you it is a process. Move the set cake to a cutting board and using a slicing knife (that is the long knife that is rounded at the end with no point) slice the edges so you will get clean, smooth, even sides. You can save these scraps, people will eat them, they just don’t look as presentable. Next cut the cake lengthwise into 6 strips, then cut each strip into 16 pieces. If it is easier for you, you can cut the cake in half widthwise then cut 6 strips and then each strip into 8 pieces. I mean you can cut this anyway you like, you should be able to get 96 pieces. That is a whole lot of rainbow cookies!! You an store them in an airtight container, they will last up to a week, if they aren’t eaten first. You can even freeze them. I have done that before and they taste pretty good. So congratulations, you just made your very own rainbow cookies!!
yields 96 cookies
1 tablespoons plus 2 cups unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces almond paste (not marzipan), broken up
2 3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 ounce red food coloring, 1 vial such as McCormick brand
1/4 ounce green food coloring, 1 vial such as McCormick brand
1 cup raspberry fruit spread, such as Smucker’s natural raspberry fruit spread
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips, such as Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chips, divided
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Special Equipment: (3) 9×13 metal baking pans
Preheat oven to 350°. Line three 9×13 metal baking pans with non-stick foil, leaving overhang; grease with 2 tablespoon butter; set aside.
Put egg whites in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment; beat until soft peaks form. Slowly add 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. If you don’t have a second stand mixer bowl, transfer egg white mixture to a large bowl; cover; chill in refigerator.
Using the paddle attachment, beat almond paste and remaining 1 cup sugar on medium-low until incorporated, 4-5 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high; gradually add remaining 2 cups of butter. Beat until fluffy. One at a time beat in egg yolks, then flour and salt.
Fold in egg whites in 2 additions. If you have, using a scale, divide batter evenly among 3 bowls. Mix red food coloring into 1 bowl and green food coloring into a second bowl; leave third bowl plain. Spread 1 bowl of batter into each prepared pan; smooth tops. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until just set, 9-11 minutes. Let cool in pans.
Place fruit spread in a microwave safe bowl, cover with a paper towel and heat for 45 seconds, stir, heat for another 45 seconds. Put fruit spread through a mesh strainer, discard any seeds. Set aside to cool.
With a pastry brush, spread half of the fruit spread over red cake. Using foil overhang, lift plain layer out of pan. Invert onto red layer; discard foil. Brush remaining fruit spread over plain layer. Lift green layer out of pan; invert onto plain layer and cover cake with foil.
Top with a 9×13 pan. Weigh down pan with several heavy items in your refrigerator to compress cake layers. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 1 day.
Remove refrigerated items, top pan, and foil. Transfer cake to a waxed paper-lined baking sheet. In a double boiler melt 5 ounces of chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter, until combined and smooth.Spread chocolate over top of cake in a thin layer. Refrigerate for 10-20 minutes. Cover with waxed paper, invert another baking sheet on top, and flip cake. Melt remaining 5 ounces of chocolate and 1 tablespoon butter in double boiler until combined and smooth. Spread remaining chocolate over unglazed side, refrigerate 10-20 minutes.
Trim sides of cake for smooth cut edges. Cut length (long side) into six even strips. Cut each strip into 16 pieces. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com, Bon Appétit, May 2011