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?