Rainbow Cookies

Neighborliness isn’t a word you hear much in New York City. Sure, we’ve met our neighbor neighbors a few times (the man right next door asked me to stop playing show tunes on the piano at 3 AM; can you believe the nerve?) but I’d never call our relationship with our neighbors neighborly. No, I haven’t experienced much neighborliness in N.Y.C. until, last week, when a food writer named Deobrah DiClementi, partner of Rebecca Charles (chef/owner of Pearl Oyster Bar) responded to a mention I made about my favorite cookie–the rainbow cookie–by messengering me over a homemade batch. Isn’t that the most neighborly New York story you’ve ever heard? And not only that, she included the recipe.

I’ve been loving rainbow cookies my whole life. I’ve written much about it on the blog, like this post from 2004, The Rainbow Cookie Connection. Whenever I go home to Boca Raton, Florida, my mom buys me rainbow cookies from Way Beyond Bagels and even though we may have eaten a heavy steak dinner, I’ll still sneak a bite before I go to bed. They’re that good.

Essentially, for those who’ve never had them (and I can’t believe such people exist), there are three layers of spongy cake: red, yellow and green. Sandwiched between the layers is raspberry jam and then the whole thing is coated in chocolate. They’re so good, if you dropped dead after finishing one you wouldn’t mind so much. It’d be a good way to go.

And, actually, after seeing what goes in them (here’s the recipe card Deb sent along with the cookies) you may indeed drop dead.


[Note: she also sent over two jars of homemade jam. She’s the most neighborly neighbor ever!]

The recipe calls for five sticks of butter (gulp!) But, reading it more carefully, that’s for two batches. It also calls for 8 egg yolks. I think I liked it better when I didn’t know what went in them!

But, I’m not just saying this, these were absolutely the best rainbow cookies I’ve ever had. Moist as could be and really, really rich. If you’re going to take the trouble to make them, you may as well make them the right way.

Now, like a real neighbor handing you her recipe on a card, this doesn’t have the hyper-edited simplicity of a cookbook recipe–it actually has character. That’s part of the fun. I’ll type it up for you here and maybe Deb can fill in any gaps we encounter. But I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Deb for such a kind neighborly gift; you made the West Village feel like Small Town U.S.A.

Grandma D’s Three-Color Cookies

from the kitchen of Deborah DiClementi

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Double batch makes two pans worth.

Beat 8 large egg whites with one cup sugar until fluffy but not quite stiff. Set aside in bowl.

Beat 2 7-8 oz tubes of almond paste

Add: 1 cup sugar

5 sticks butter, softened

8 egg yolks

2 Tbs. almond extract

Reduce speed, add 4 cups flour.

Fold in egg whites.

Separate evenly into 3 bowls.

Leave one white, add green food coloring to one and red to other.

Pans should be buttered, layered with parchment and buttered again.

The sheet pan is 1/4 sheet pan and you can buy them at D’Ags (12-ish by 9-ish) then throw them out! I love that! They’re very shallow but each layer is thin

and you’re going to think there isn’t enough dough but spread it out and you’ll be fine…

[Question for Deb: since this is a double batch, should there be six pans total?]

This is what I learned from Rebecca…better quality ingrediants=better quality product…it’s why everyone now uses Pepperidge Farm rolls and Hellmann’s mayo in their lobster rolls and for example, when they never, ever did before. Make sure you use good, FRESH almond paste.

Melt about 22 oz Callebaut bittersweet chocolate over a water bath.

Melt about 18 oz seedless raspberry jam in a pan and set aside…(I’ve been using my homemade jam, which in retrospect…what was I thinking?! LOL!) Also, most

recipes call from apricot jam, which I don’t like and apparently neither did my grandma. LOL! But she used a jar and a half of Smuckers.

You now have 3 colors in sep bowls….eyeball and put half of red in one pan, half in the other then do the same with white and green. They cook for about 10 mins, you want them soft and slightly underbaked so you really must watch them. Turn them 1/2 turn at 5 mins.

Now, to assemble…the white is supposed to be in the middle but whatevs!

Spread jam evenly over the green layer.

Carefully remove white layer, flip it over onto a cookie sheet if need be, then slide it onto the green layer.

Spread jam evenly over white layer.

Lay the red layer on top. All three layers will now be stacked in the green pan, which is very convienient. Put in fridge to chill slightly, maybe 15 mins.

Do the other pan’s worth.

Now spread, as evenly as possible, warm chocolate over the top. I hate to do this to you, but it has to be not too thick and not too thin. If it’s not just right it will crack.

Now place in fridge until set. In a cold fridge (and I always turn mine up for this) leave about 30 mins.

Take out and just flip over on your hand and place back in same tray.

Layer chocolate on this side.

Chill until set, 30-45 mins.

Now, these are actually fresh for a couple of days without cutting. BUT they cut better immediately. If you cut them the next day just be sure to leave them out for a while so the chocolate loses a little stiffness.

The hot knfe is not great with these cookies I don’t like what it does to the chocolate edges and it’s not too kind to the soft almond centers.


When I started making these about 15 years ago, I had a whole new appreciation for Rocco’s, which was 1 block away from me at the time! LOL!

* * * * *

[Follow-up from Deborah. She adds the following.]

Okay, parchment paper really important…so you butter pan, then place parchement on top (you will need it to help you life it out) then butter the PP.

Before slicing cookies into bars, you will have to trim the edges. I put them in a baggie and throw them in the freezer for my dad who uses them on

frozen yogurt/ice cream. I say this because there can be a lot….

Also, you know from baking in NYC apartment ovens, you really have to watch the temp. I actually use a timer for these. You do not want to overbake.


Let's dish!

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