Italian Rainbow Cookies – Laura Vitale Traditional Recipe

Italian Rainbow Cookies

Laura Vitale Traditional Recipe

Rainbow Cookies

A particular variety of this confection, known primarily by various regional names listed below, is with layers of brightly colored, almond-based sponge cakeapricot and/or raspberry jam, and a chocolate coating. Many bakeries sell them by the pound, and because of the many layers, these cookies tend to be somewhat heavy estimating in about fifteen to a pound.

This variety of the confection likely originated in Italian communities in the United States during the 1900s, in homage to the community’s heritage. Although often called simply rainbow cookies in much of the non-Italian continental United States, some local names for this specific variety are:

Italian flag cookies

Napoleon cookies

Seven layer cake

Seven layer cookies

Tricolor cookies

Venetian cookies

“We’ve all grown up with it… That red white and green, Italian flag colored delight sold as little cookie squares in just about every Italian (and non-Italian) across the United States and Canada. Called a Rainbow Cookie, often called  Tricolore because of its resemblance to the Italian flag, and sometimes called Seven Layer Cookies (3 cake, 2 chocolate and 2 jam).  Although some say they don’t exist in Italy, they do appear in Italian pasticcerie, usually around Christmastime–their red and green colors accenting the holiday cheer. They are also referred to as Venetians, a nod toward the fact they are more pastry than cooki

“Some people claim this recipe is not Italian. They say that it is an Italian-American creation, created to honor the Italian flag by Italian-American bakers. I doubted this, so I did some research… In fact, you can find version called Pasticcini arcobaleno (little rainbow pastries) in Italy during the Christmas season. Besides, nearly every “Italian-American” recipe owes its existence to a recipe from mainland Italy. Perhaps the recipe has changed a bit, its core is Italian. I really can’t imagine such a complex pastry preparation coming out of American bakeries alone without any historic link to the traditional recipes of the past.”

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