Updated: Dec 19, 2020
If you go to any bakery in New York, especially on Long Island, you will find these hidden treasures. Sometimes you'll also find them in grocery stores, especially around the holidays. Growing up, my parents or grandparents would always to go a local bakery and pickup a box of assorted cookies, and Rainbow Cookies (sometimes called Italian Flag cookies) would always be included in that box. These are my absolutely favorite holiday cookie (and they are Santa's favorite holiday cookie, too).
So what is a Rainbow Cookie? Its actually a special type of layered cookie (three layers - red, white, and green - like an Italian Flag, hence the name). Each layer is combined with jelly: traditionally, apricot jelly is used for one layer (southern Italy is known for its apricots) and raspberry or blackberry jelly for the other layer. Then it's topped with dark chocolate and cut into little heavenly squares. The essential ingredient is almond paste, which gives them a distinct flavor similar to marzipan, but not as dense due to the folding in of whisked egg whites. Be careful buying these in grocery stores in New York - they are not always made correctly - better off finding a good bakery or better yet just make them yourself!
Living in Texas, these cookies (like many other things found in New York) are no where to be found. So we had to figure out how to make them on our own. I have to say this recipe my wife found are even better than some of the best bakeries in New York.
Be forewarned: these cookies take about 10 hours to make, because after assembled, they must sit in the fridge for 8 hours so they compress and form the layers correctly with the jelly. Then they are topped with the melted dark chocolate and the returned to the fridge again so the chocolate can set. So if you want to make them, you must plan ahead. We find it easiest to just let them sit overnight, but you if you start early in the morning, you can have Rainbow Cookies in time for desert.
Video Tutorial (Season 1, Episode 11)
Our kids go crazy for these cookies, and they love help making them. My daughter Anna actually said if she had to choose to eat only one thing in this world, it would be Rainbow Cookies. While that definitely would not be a good idea, hopefully it lets you know how delicious these cookies are, and why this is our favorite holiday cookie.
Here is a link to the recipe made in this video: https://www.ardolinoskitchen.com/the-kitchen-table/desserts/rainbow-italian-flag-cookies
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