No-Almond Rainbow Cookies

If you like the idea of rainbow cookies but aren’t a fan of almond flavor, here’s a version from Taste of Home which uses ground macadamia nuts in place of the almond paste and rum extract for almond. I tried the recipe today and found it a little easier than the others.  The batter was thinner and easier to pour, the eggs didn’t have to be separated and folded, and since there is no almond paste, I didn’t have to grate it and worry about unmixed pieces.

rainbow cookies

These rainbows were taller and lighter in texture, but I really messed up by using regular grocery store pastel colored food gel instead of the thick gel paste from the cake decorating aisle. These seem a little less flavorful than the others, but I think the paler colors are influencing my perception and personally, I do miss the almond. The fifth graders in the house, however, preferred these over the almond type; so if you don’t like almond flavorings or are making these for kids, these are a good bet. Just make sure to use a good, vivid food coloring paste.

Since I made a few changes to TOH’s recipe, I’ve retyped it as I made the recipe. I changed the pan size, the flavorings and the chocolate coating technique.


No Almond Rainbow Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Italian Rainbow Cookies made without almond paste
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 48
  • 2/3 cup macadamia nuts (ready to eat, unsalted)
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) butter, melted and cooled (I used unsalted but I think salted would be fine)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (4.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6-8 drops red food coloring (paste!)
  • 6-8 drops green food coloring (paste)
  • 1/4 cup seedless raspberry preserves
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 6 oz (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 12 oz chocolate (60%)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and line three 9 inch square metal pans with non-stick foil. If you only have one or two pans, just use what you have and bake each layer separately. The batter can stand for a few minutes.
  2. Place the nuts in a food processor; cover and process until ground. Add the confectioners' sugar and egg white; cover and process until blended.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar on high speed for 2-3 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in ground nut mixture, then melted butter, vanilla and salt. Add the flour and stir by hand until it is mixed in. You should have about 33 oz of batter by weight.
  4. Divide batter into thirds – if you have a scale, each portion should weigh 11 oz. Stir red food coloring into one portion of batter; stir green food coloring into another portion. Leave remaining batter plain (or add a little yellow).
  5. Bake for 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and edges begin to brown. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  6. Place red layer on a large sheet of cling wrap and spread with raspberry preserves. Top with plain layer, then spread plain layer with apricot preserves. Add green layer; press down gently. Wrap the cooled stack of cakes in cling wrap and put in the freezer for a few hours or until frozen. You can keep the cakes frozen for up to a month if you wrap them tightly.
  7. When ready to dip, trim the left and right sides of the square with a chef’s knife. Leave the top and bottom sides raggedy. Cut the square in half horizontally, then cut each half into 6 rectangles so that you have 12 rectangles about equal size with raggedy ends. For wider bars, cut 10 rectangles.
  8. Put all your frozen cake sticks back in the pan and store them in the freezer while you prepare the dipping chocolate.
  9. Have ready a parchment covered baking sheet and a little extra room in the refrigerator.
  10. Melt 3 oz of butter (6 tablespoons) of butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 6 oz of semi-sweet or 60% cacao chocolate. Stir well, then microwave at 50% power stirring at 30 second intervals until your chocolate is shiny and thin.
  11. Remove the frozen cake sticks from the freezer and holding by a raggedy end, dip as far as you can into the chocolate, letting it fall back into the bowl. Set the dipped stick on the parchment. Do this until all your chocolate is gone, then repeat melting procedure by melting butter, adding more chocolate etc. Continue until all your sticks are dipped. Chill until set.
  12. Before serving, pull the sticks from the refrigerator. Trim the raggedy ends and cut each stick into about 3 nice cubes.

Related posts:


  1. Mimi Wan says

    I love the muted colors but love almonds. Can you just sub almonds back into the recipe? Also, I think you meant to type “trim” versus “trip” the ends at the end of the recipe. I had to read it a few times to figure out what you meant!

  2. says

    Well you realize that your next step is to use almonds with this method and see what the result are. Technically the type of nut you use shouldn’t matter, so I’d be curious to see if it does, and surprised if it did :). But again, all of your testing is simply awesome and really appreciated for when I finally get to making one of these. And I actually kind of like the more muted colours in these versions. It makes it look more like food :).

  3. says

    Mimi and Adam, I definitely want to try this again with actual almonds and almond extract. I’ll try to do it this week, in fact. I also want to try making a real Americanized version with chocolate, vanilla and strawberry or maybe a super simple one using three types of cake mix. Mimi, thanks for the typo catch!

  4. says

    I like the idea of the macadamia nut version but since I love almonds this version isn’t as appealing to me. I don’t mind the more muted colors but they do look more festive with the deeper colors.

  5. says

    One thing I’ve noticed about all the rainbow cookies, especially the ones from this recipe, is that they taste better on Day 2 after the preserves and chocolate have “settled in”. I think from now on I’ll do the freezing, coating and slicing step a day ahead, then let the covered, cut, cake squares sit in a tightly covered container at room temperature for a day. In a lot of cases, this is what people would naturally do anyway, so it all works out for the best!

  6. Eric in AZ says

    You are absolutely correct that they get better after a day or two..they become moist and the chocolate coating keeps it all from drying out..I store them in the fridge in bars and cut them 30 mins before needed and let them come to room temperature. Also I always trim the “raggedy” edges and dip the entire bar in chocolate,,,,you’ll need some kind of dipping tool ( fork or tongs) and let them cool on wax paper…I have never tried parchment but I sure that works well too. Now the raggedy edges are delicious with coffee as you are dipping the bars. They will be gone before you are done dipping especially if anyone else passes through the kitchen. Keep up the great work…I’ll be trying a new rainbow recipe from a cookbook I just got called Inside the Jewish Bakery in the next few weeks…looks like it could be a winner. I’ll let you know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate This Recipe: