How to Make an Italian Rainbow Cookie Cake for the Holidays
We all know about rainbow cakes, but have you ever seen one created just for the holidays? This red and green version is not just dyed festive colors — it’s inspired by the classic Italian rainbow cookie! Bringing the tradition of sharing Christmas cookies and impressive, colorful cakes together, this tri-color confection recipe is not only ultra cheery, but also extremely delicious.
Unlike other cookie-cakes where actual cookies are typically stacked to resemble a cake, this version is made with layers of the most delectable almond butter cake. Filled with sweet jam and smothered with the fudgiest, fluffiest chocolate icing, this cake is sure to impress at any holiday party. Red, green and white have never looked so tasty.
For the Cake
– 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
– 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 10 ounces almond paste, broken into small pieces
– 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
– 2 cups granulated sugar
– 5 eggs
– 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 3/4 cup whole milk
– red and green food coloring
For the Frosting
– 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
– 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
– 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 2 to 3 Tablespoons hot water
– 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
– pinch salt
– 8 ounces melted semi-sweet or dark chocolate, cooled
– 3/4 to 1 cup raspberry jam
– sprinkles (optional)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour three 8-inch cake pans and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the almond paste and butter until thoroughly combined (about 3-4 minutes).
4. Add in the sugar and mix until fluffy (about 2-3 more minutes).
5. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.
6. One at a time, mix in the eggs until combined.
7. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
8. Working in batches, alternate adding in the dry ingredients and the milk (with the milk addition in the middle). Mix only until the last of the dry ingredients are mixed in. Do not over mix!
9. Evenly divide the batter into 3 separate bowls.
10. Color 1 bowl of batter red and 1 bowl green. Add in as much color as you would like (we used about 1/2 teaspoon of each) and mix until combined.
11. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (1 color per pan), and bake for about 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
12. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.
13. Let the cakes completely cool (or chill in the fridge wrapped in plastic) before carefully slicing each cake in half horizontally (you will then have 6 layers of cake).
Combine the softened butter and almond paste together until smooth.
Add the sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.
Then add the vanilla and almond extracts.
Now add the eggs one at time. Mix thoroughly before adding the next egg.
Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Working in batches, alternately add in the flour mixture and the milk (starting and ending with the flour mixture, allowing the liquids to be absorbed into the batter).
Mix only until the last streaks of flour remain visible. Do not over mix! Once the batter is divided, you will be mixing again when adding in the food coloring.
Evenly divide the batter into three separate bowls. Tint one bowl of batter green and another red.
Pro tip: To evenly distribute the batter, use a kitchen scale and weigh out the batter in each bowl.
Pour the batter into three eight-inch round cake pans (greased and floured) and bake for about 28-32 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes completely cool (or chill in the fridge wrapped in plastic) before carefully slicing each cake in half horizontally (you will then have six layers of cake).
Pro tip: Be careful when cutting the cake layers in half. The cakes are not very tall, so make sure they do not break when cut. Use a long serrated knife and keep it as parallel to your work surface as possible. Score around the cake and cut only a little bit at a time. Also note that a chilled cake will produce fewer crumbs. If a cake does split when you are trying to cut it, try to fit the pieces back together (using a bit of jam as glue) and use the imperfect layers in the center of the cake (not the base or top layer).
Now for the frosting!
1. Beat the butter in a clean mixing bowl until smooth.
2. Gradually add the sugar, cocoa, water, vanilla and salt. Mix until combined.
3. Add more hot water (a teaspoon at a time) if the frosting appears too thick to spread.
4. Mix in the melted and cooled chocolate until combined. (If at this point the frosting seems too runny, place it in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes, or while you assemble the cake layers.)
Mix the butter until smooth and creamy.
With the mixer on low, gradually add the sugar, cocoa, water and salt. Once incorporated, turn the mixer up to medium and mix until combined.
Add the melted, cooled chocolate. Mix until smooth.
To assemble the cake:
1. Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the raspberry jam between the layers of cake with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
2. Alternate the colors of the cake layers, ending with one of the bottoms of the cake facing up so that the top of the cake is nice and flat.
3. Ice the cake with frosting and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.
Spread about two or three tablespoons of the raspberry jam between the layers of cake with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Alternate the colors of the cake layers, ending with one of the bottoms of the cake facing up so that the top of the cake is nice and flat. Next, add frosting. If the frosting is too thick to spread, add in a touch more hot water (a couple teaspoons at a time). If it is too runny, pop it in the fridge to firm up slightly. The frosting sets rather quickly, so make sure to add the sprinkles while the frosting is still fresh or they may fall right off.
Cake or cookies? Which treats will you be making and sharing this holiday season?
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com