Italian Rainbow Cookie Bars

Rainbow cookies or rainbow bars can refer to any of a number of rainbow-colored sweets. A particular range of this confection, known principally by several regional names listed below, is with layers of brightly colored, almond-based sponge cake, raspberry and/or apricot jam, and a chocolate coating. Numerous bakeries sell them by the pound, and due to the many layers, these cookies have a tendency to be somewhat heavy estimating in about fifteen to a pound.

This range of the confection likely originated in Italian communities in the U.S. during the 1900s, in homage to the community’s heritage. Even though usually called simply rainbow cookies in much of the non-Italian continental America, some local terms for this specific variety are Italian flag cookies, Venetian cookies, Tricolor cookies, Napoleon cookies, seven layer cake, or seven layer cookies.

Servings 32 


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 package (7 oz.) almond paste, crumbled
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon green paste food color
  • ½ teaspoon red paste food color
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 8 bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup whipping cream




  • Heat oven to 350°F/ 180°C/ Gas Mark 4. Spray 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray; line with cooking parchment paper, leaving 1 inch of paper overhanging at 2 opposite sides of the pan. Spray paper with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt with whisk until blended. In a medium bowl, beat butter, sugar, almond paste, and almond extract with electric mixer on medium speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. On low speed, beat in flour mixture.
  • Spread one-third of the batter (1 1/2 cups) evenly in pan (layer will be very thin). Freeze 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix green food color into one-third (1 1/2 cups) of the batter.
  • Gently spread over batter in pan. Freeze 5 minutes. In separate small bowl, mix red food color into remaining batter. Gently spread over green batter.
  • Bake 24 to 28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on cooling rack, about 1 hour.
  • Spread jam over bars. In microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate and whipping cream on High about 1 minute, stirring once, or until mixture is smooth.
  • Spread chocolate mixture over jam. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. Use paper to lift out of the pan. Trim edges, if desired.
  • Cut into 8 rows by 4 rows. Store loosely covered.

Buon Appetito!