Italian Tri-Color Rainbow Cookies {Vegan}

I have always loved these little Italian Rainbow Cakes. I looked forward to them each Christmas as they were brought to us by friends. Although I had been given the recipe, it seemed complicated and of course, it wasn’t vegan. Surprisingly easy steps, this one is surely worth the effort!

Originally posted Christmas of 2013, this is my most visited recipe each December so I thought I would reformat it for Yummly (yay for printable recipes) and share it with you again this year.

Italian Tri-Color Cookies

Before we start baking, it is very important to use parchment paper in this recipe.  Without it, it would be nearly impossible to lift and move the layers without breaking them.  I cut them to the width of the interior of my 8″x8″ pan and left enough overhang to use as handles for removing.   If the papers move around too much, you can give a super quick mist of cooking spray and then the paper will adhere to it.  This becomes more of an issue when you start to fill with batter.

prepared pans

Divide the cake batter evenly among three bowls.  I used a kitchen scale to be sure they were all pretty much the same.  Using a vegan-friendly color, tint one red and one green.  Leave the other plain.  Keep in mind the baked cake will be slightly darker than your batter.

I get asked a lot about vegan food colors.  I use Americolor (available at Walmart and of course, Amazon).  I recently touched based with them and they assure me all of their colors (including red) are vegan.  I used ‘Red Red’ and ‘Leaf Green’ for this recipe.

3 batters

Spread each color evenly with a small offset spatula into their respective pans.  It’s also necessary to have 3 pans for this recipe of the same size, from the same manufacturer that stack tightly.  You’ll see why in a later step.  They are very reasonably priced (I think I paid about $5 each at Walmart) and this size pan is always useful.

batter in pans

Here’s what they look like straight from the oven.  Allow to cool in their pans COMPLETELY.

baked cakes

Meanwhile, prepare the apricot jam filling.  I just warm it in a small saucepan.  The jam gives the cake both flavor and keeps it moist.

jam melted

Spread half of the apricot jam onto the green layer.

jam on green

Remove the parchment from the vanilla layer and place it on top of the jam covered green layer.  See the green layer underneath there?  Now spread the remaining jam onto the vanilla layer.

Remove the parchment from the red layer and place it on top of the jam covered vanilla layer.  Reserve this piece of parchment for use in the next step.

jam on vanilla

This is where the 3 pans of the same size come into play.  Using the reserved parchment strip, place it on top of the red layer.  Take one of the pans and place it on top of that parchment.  Give it a light but firm press.  I actually get a couple of soup cans and place them in there. This will stay in the refrigerator overnight allowing the layers to bond together.

weighted pan

The next day, I remove the cake from the pan and using a serrated knife, cut off a small (maybe 1/8″) amount around the border.  This just cleans it up and squares things off a bit.

3 layers

Next melt vegan chocolate chips.

melted chocolate

Spread the chocolate over the top of the cake and using a fork, create a swirled effect using a snake-like motion.

fork swirl

I like to place this back into the fridge to harden.  I don’t let it get too hard though, because you’ll want to cut it into squares or rectangles.

finished swirl

I keep these covered and refrigerated.  They freeze really well too!  They are so moist and delicious. Your guests will absolutely love them.  This is my very favorite Christmas dessert and I am thrilled to be able to share this vegan version with you 🙂

tricolor full shot

If you try this recipe, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @theveglife1  I love seeing what you come up with 🙂

Italian Tri-Color Rainbow Cookies {Vegan}



  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour 6.35 ounces
  • 1-3/4 plus 1/8 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 1-1/2 C Sugar
  • 2 oz . Almond Paste
  • 1-1/4 C Vegan Butter such as Earth Balance, at room temperature
  • 3/8 C Silken Tofu blended until smooth OR Cashew Cream OR Applesauce
  • 1-1/8 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ¾ C plus 3 Tbl Almond Milk
  • 1 15 oz . jar of Apricot Jam
  • 1/2 lb . Vegan Chocolate Morsels


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line three 8" square pans with parchment, making sure there is an overhang on the sides (see photo)
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until light and fluffy. About 3 minutes. Add the almond paste, silken tofu and vanilla. Beat until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and milk, alternating between wet and dry but begin and end with the flour, beating well after each addition and continue to beat for another minute or so after the last addition.
  5. Divide the batter evenly between three bowls. I used a scale to get them as close as possible.
  6. Using vegetable dyes, tint one batter green, one batter red and leave the other uncolored. I used 3 drops of green but found that I needed 5 of the red to avoid it being pink.
  7. Transfer batter to each of the three prepared 8" square pans.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. DO NOT REMOVE FROM PANS. Let cool completely in the pans on wire racks. Loosen edges with a sharp knife.
  9. Using an offset spatula, spread one half of the jam onto the green layer still in its pan. I heated mine for about 20 seconds in a bowl to loosen it up enough to spread.
  10. Unmold the plain cake layer and peel off the parchment ([b]reserve this parchment sheet[/b]) and set it on top of the green layer and top with the remaining jam.
  11. Unmold the red layer and place it on top of the plain layer and cover with the reserved parchment sheet. Using one of the unmolded 8" cake pans, place it on top of the parchment and find some very heavy cans to put inside. Place in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or overnight.
  12. Unmold the cake and using a serrated knife, trim the edges to make them straight and remove any browned areas.
  13. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  14. Pour onto just the top of the cake. Dip an offset spatula in hot water and smooth the top.
  15. Let set slightly. Then, using a fork, scrape wavy lines into the chocolate.
  16. Let cool for a few more minutes until the chocolate is mostly set but still slightly tacky.
  17. Using a serrated knife dipped into hot water in between slices and wipe with paper towel, cut the cake into thirds in one direction. Cut each third into 1" pieces.
  18. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Italian Tri Colors
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