Seven Layer Italian Cookie

Seven Layer Cookies, Rainbow Cookies, Tri-Color Cookies, Italian Layer Cookies… it doesn’t matter what you call them – if you have ever eaten them, you probably love them!

Italian Cookies on a Platter

Growing up, these always seemed to be one of my favorite cookies (as well as my Dad’s, so that sometimes caused some problems)! I never would have imagined that I could actually make these cookies at home! When you get these cookies from the bakery, there never seems to be enough of them compared to everything else in your Mixed Assortment. They are a bit time intensive, but less labor intensive than I would have thought (and they make a ton of cookies, so there will be plenty to share)!

Italian Ribbon 7-Layer CookiesSo yes, these are time intensive but yes, they are worth it!

ribbon cookies on board

And once you and your family falls in love with these cookies, you could even change up the colors! I personally think that these colors are great all year round, but if you wanted to be festive on the 4th you could do Red, White, & Blue or maybe Shades of Red/Pink for Valentines Day!!

uncut 7-Layer Cookies

See the Notes under the recipe for some helpful advice!
Seven Layer Italian Cookie
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 5 dozen cookies
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 (8-oz) can almond paste
  • 2½ sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 25 drops red food coloring
  • 25 drops green food coloring
  • 1 (12-oz) jar apricot preserves, heated and strained
  • 7 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
  1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 13- by 9-inch baking pan and line bottom with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 ends, then butter paper.
  2. Beat whites in mixer fitted with whisk attachment at medium-high speed until they just hold stiff peaks. Add ¼ cup sugar a little at a time, beating at high speed until whites hold stiff, slightly glossy peaks. Transfer to another bowl.
  3. Switch to paddle attachment, then beat together almond paste and remaining ¾ cup sugar until well blended, about 3 minutes. Add butter and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks and almond extract and beat until combined well, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low, then add flour and salt and mix until just combined.
  4. Fold half of egg white mixture into almond mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.
  5. Divide batter among 3 bowls. Stir red food coloring into one and green food coloring into another, leaving the third batch plain. Set white batter aside. Chill green batter, covered. Pour red batter into prepared pan and spread evenly with offset spatula (layer will be about ¼ inch thick).
  6. Bake red layer 8 to 10 minutes, until just set. (It is important to undercook. They’ll look like they’re not done, but a tester does come out clean.)
  7. Using paper overhang, transfer layer to a rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Clean pan, then line with parchment or wax paper and butter paper in same manner as above. Bake white layer in prepared pan until just set. As white layer bakes, bring green batter to room temperature. Transfer white layer to a rack. Prepare pan as above, then bake green layer in same manner as before. Transfer to a rack to cool.
  8. When all layers are cool, invert green onto a parchment or wax-paper-lined large baking sheet. Discard paper from layer and spread with half of preserves. Invert white on top of green layer, discarding paper. Spread with remaining preserves. Invert red layer on top of white layer and discard wax or parchment paper.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and weight with a large baking pan. Chill at least 8 hours.
  10. Remove weight and plastic wrap. Bring layers to room temperature. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Keep chocolate over water. (Alternately, you can do what I did: melt the chocolate 3.5 ounces at a time just to make sure it doesn’t seize up between steps, though that shouldn’t be a problem if you only let it set for 15.)
  11. Trim edges of assembled layers with a long serrated knife. Quickly spread half of chocolate in a thin layer on top of cake. Chill, uncovered, until chocolate is firm, about 15 minutes. Cover with another sheet of wax paper and place another baking sheet on top, then invert cake onto sheet and remove paper. Quickly spread with remaining chocolate. Chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
  12. Cut lengthwise into 4 strips (I cut them into more, because I wanted them 1 to 1½ inches wide, as I remember them). Cut strips crosswise into ¾-inch-wide cookies.

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  1. Make these over 2 -3 Days: Day 1 bake & weight, Day 2 stack & cover with chocolate (then freeze, see below), Day 2 or 3 cut & package – the whole process will seem easier if you plan on spreading it out!
  2. Be sure not to over-bake the layers: they cook quickly and you don’t want to end up with dry layers. They may not “look” done but check with a toothpick & you will see they are done!
  3. Don’t stack cooled cakes: Parchment paper has grease on both sides, so that will prevent chocolate from sticking!
  4. Be careful dividing your jam: You don’t want it oozing out between layers OR there not being enough!
  5. They’re easier to cut when frozen:  differing textures of the layers, so when they are all frozen everything works much better with one even texture & consistency
  6. Make & freeze: these keep amazingly well in the freezer and up to about 2 week in an airtight container on the counter, just be sure to put layers of wax paper between prepared cookies when storing them

 Italian Layer Cookies on a Platter

Two Years Ago – a very bad day in the Kitchen of Teacher Chef…. my oven was broken for a few days, let us hope that we never have to go through that terror again!

And I leave you with this, Today’s Question of the Day… What was your favorite cookie or treat from the local bakeries growing up?

cutting of ribbon cookies
… and I promise to make these again & get you some better photos!


Seven Layer Italian Cookie — 6 Comments

  1. I’ve told you the other day but i thought I’d put it in writing – These rival those from our local bakery, in NYC!!! Love you, Kel

    • 🙂 I love seeing it in writing! Glad that you enjoy them, I was really hoping that you would!

  2. These were truly fantastic, especially since they were never really one of my favorites until now. All these years I always thought that they were supposed to be dry, but guess I never had fresh ones until these !!

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  4. I think that your baking skills improve every time you make something. AGAIN, these were FANTASTIC !!!