Gluten Free Rainbow Cookies

Gluten Free Rainbow Cookies

Gluten Free Rainbow Cookies

It’s (finally!) Christmas Cookie Baking Season! I take this time of year very seriously, as I am in love with just every single thing about baking cookies. There’s something for everyone, and if I ever meet a person who swears that they just don’t like cookies at all, I will make it my business to find the cookie they do like. These gluten free rainbow cookies are the Cadillac of Italian bakery cookies. They’re the ones I always looked for first in the bakery box. Simply put, they’re my favorite—and this sweet chocolate-covered almond cake treat is at least as good as the gluten-filled bakery cookies of my childhood. All 3 of my children love them, too, but that might at least be partly because they love a good competition and, well, they know they’ll have to fight me for that last cookie.

Gluten Free Rainbow Cookies—Step by Step

I first posted a recipe for rainbow cookies on the blog over 3 years ago (that recipe now redirects to this one). Over the years, as I’ve learned more about gluten free flours and blends, I’ve tried reworking it. I thought I could make it better—even though it was already perfect. Well you can guess how that turned out. I just kept coming right back to the original recipe I created way back in 2010, so I’ve contented myself here with better pictures including plenty of (admittedly totally unnecessary) step-by-step photos, and better instructions.

Gluten Free Rainbow Cookies

And you probably already know this since you’re most likely not me as a small child, but all 3 layers taste exactly the same. They’re just different colors. Okay part of me still thinks they taste different in the most subtle, but incredibly important, way. Still you should of course feel free to make three “natural” layers and skip the food colorings altogether if you’re against that sort of thing.

We’ve got just over 3 weeks until Christmas Day, and I for one plan to make gluten free cookie baking a major part of my life. Stay tuned for more cookies (always more cookies!) and keep that oven warm for me!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 21 cookies


Cookies and Filling
8 ounces almond paste (Love ‘n’ Bake brand and Solo brand are both gluten free, or you can use this homemade marzipan), broken up with a fork

16 tablespoons (224 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3/4 cup (150 g) sugar

4 eggs (240 g, weighed out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

2 cups (280 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Red liquid food coloring (8 to 10 drops)

Green liquid food coloring (8 to 10 drops)

1/2 cup (160 g) seedless raspberry or strawberry jam

Chocolate Topping
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup (2 2/3 fluid ounces) heavy cream


  • Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line 3 quarter sheet pans (each 9-inches x 12-inches) with unbleached parchment paper, and set them aside.

  • Make the cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream the almond paste and butter until well-combined. There may be some remaining small clumps in the almond paste, which is fine. Add the sugar and eggs, beating to combine well after each addition. The batter should be thick. Add the flour, xanthan gum and kosher salt, and mix until the dough comes together and is smooth. Divide the dough into three equal parts (each about 500 grams). Add the green food coloring to one part, and mix to combine. Add the red food coloring to another part, and mix to combine. Divide the 3 parts of dough among the three prepared pans. Stretch and press the dough into an even layer in each pan, using wet fingers and a wet spatula. The dough will be sticky.

  • Bake and assemble the layers. Place each pan, one at a time, in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes, or until the dough just begins to brown around the edges. Allow the layers to cool slightly in the pans. Carefully place the green layer on a piece of parchment paper, spread evenly with one half of the jam. Place the plain layer carefully on top, taking care not to handle the cakes too much or they may begin to crack. Spread the remaining jam on top of the plain layer, and top with the pink layer. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top, and place a few books on top of the stack to compress the layers. Place the stack of cakes in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until the layers have begun to flatten and compress.

  • Once the cookies are chilled, make the chocolate topping. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size heat safe bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and butter over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the butter is melted and the cream is just beginning to simmer. Pour the hot cream and butter mixture over the chocolate, mixing to combine. The chocolate should be smooth and shiny. Pour the melted chocolate over the top of the chilled cookies, and spread into an even layer with an offset spatula or knife. Chill once more in the refrigerator until the chocolate topping is set (about 20 minutes). Using a large serrated knife, trim all of the edges and then slice into about 21 even rectangles. Serve immediately or wrap tightly and store in the freezer until ready to serve.



P.S. If you haven’t yet, please pick up your copy of the Gluten-Free on a Shoestring cookbooks! Your support makes the blog possible!

Comments are closed.

  • Jennifer S.
    December 2, 2014 at 10:14 AM

    You know – I’ve never had these but they intrigue me….. so now I must make them. I love almond anything….
    Also – do we have a GF spritz recipe? My daughter proclaimed they are her favy, fav, favorite last week – who knew?

  • December 2, 2014 at 1:12 AM

    Your recipes have been completely out of the park lately, Nicole. (Dying at the beauty of that coconut cream pie – and seriously, can I just say that your food photography is completely amazing? I want to be your student.) But these cookies are crazy (in a good way!). I’ve never seen a prettier cookie. Love, love, love them. And…you are just awesome. That is all. (I have nothing of real value to add here for gluten-free baking, clearly, just wanted to tell you how great you are.)

  • Carole
    December 1, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    Went to Sam’s club today and they had Krusteaz all purpose gluten free flour. Have you tried it ??? Bought the gf brownie mix by them and the grandkids wolfed them down before I got to try them. But they all love chocolate and all eight of them were here. The price was about $10 for 5 pounds.

    • December 1, 2014 at 6:32 PM

      I’ve never heard of it, Carole. I just looked it up, and the ingredients in the all purpose GF flour are: whole grain sorghum, brown rice flour, whole grain millet, white rice flour, modified tapioca starch, quinoa and xanthan gum. There’s no way a blend with all those heavy flours would work in my recipes, I’m afraid. Sorry!

      • Michelle
        December 1, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        I think the sorghum, millet and quinoa would give an odd flavor, too. Better Batter is the best I have found, and if you buy directly from them, (not Amazon) you can often find great sales.

      • Carole
        December 2, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Oh well , guess I’ll stick with Better Batter. But thank you for answering me. My family loves your recipes so much !!!!! When is the new cookbook going to be available ??? The bread book is the best .

        • December 2, 2014 at 3:38 PM

          The new book will be available late March if you preorder, Carole! So glad you love the bread book! :)

      • Jen Small
        December 2, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        My sister bought me some and I used it last week in a cake recipe because I was out of superfine white rice flour to make my own. It was just ok. It was definitely heavier and drier. I’ll stick with Nicole’s flour blends from the Bakes Bread book :) The Krusteaz would probably be ok for pancakes or basic brownie recipes… I’ll have to do something to use it up, although I wouldn’t buy it again!

        • December 2, 2014 at 3:38 PM

          Thanks for letting us know your experience, Jen! That blend sounds like it’s suffering from trying to be all things to all people—high in whole grains, but still “all purpose.” You really can’t be both!

  • Lucy
    December 1, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    Absolutely gorgeous!
    For me baking has to go on the back burner, since the power outage I’m behind on my sewing projects. School will be out a few days before Christmas, so I’ll get the girls involved. With some Christmas Aprons, they’ll think I planned the whole affair :)

    • December 1, 2014 at 1:40 PM

      A happy accident for them, then, Lucy! My kids rarely are allowed to bake with me, since baking for me is work. *whomp whomp whomp*

  • December 1, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Oh these pictures are gorgeous! My husband’s family makes these for Christmas an I think this year I may give your recipe a try :)

    Thanks, as always, for being awesome,

    • December 1, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      Hi, Dana! These cookies are definitely up to the challenge!

  • Michelle
    December 1, 2014 at 11:07 AM

    These must be a southern Italian thing, because I have never seen them. (most of the Italian population here is northern, and we don’t really have an Italian bakery- don’t know why when there are so many of us) but I love, love all things almond and marzipan, so I must make these as soon as possible and hide them from my family. They look like spumoni… mmmm….. Thank you!!

    • December 1, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      Really, Michelle?? You’ve never seen rainbow cookies? Oh you are in for such a treat and your instinct to bake and hide is sound. :)

    • Kat
      December 1, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      I think they’re mostly an Italian American thing. I grew up in NY and these were one of my favorites as a kid.

  • Profran
    December 1, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    I want to make this, but does the cookies get very hard?

    • December 1, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      I’m afraid I don’t understand your question, Profran. These cookies have the exact same taste and texture as the kind you buy in the bakery.

  • Donia Robinson
    December 1, 2014 at 9:32 AM

    Who gets the bits around the edges? Such a shame they aren’t good enough for a cookie plate. ;)

    • December 1, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Well, the cook of course, Donia! :)

      • Lucy
        December 1, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        The cook and the helpers :)

    • Jennifer S.
      December 2, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      I noticed those edges too – almost tried to grab one through my screen….

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