Pastel Rainbow Cookies, Gluten Free

Rainbow cookies are my absolute second, spare back-up favorite cookie ever. Those tiny little squares of marzipan flavored goodness with a dark chocolate top are delicious. As a kid I thought the colors, red, yellow and green were awesome and magical. As an adult, I’m willing to suspend all good health rules and eat them anyway, but not every day.

And the only game in town back when I was a sprout was a Bakery called Snowflake where the goodies were exceptionally exotic to a kid whose mom baked only beige stuff. Rainbows were lined up in the glass case like tiny brightly colored Legos covered with shiny chocolate hats. It was a happy day when I got to take a couple home in my very own bakery bag.

These gluten-free Pastel Rainbows are the same – only different.  Think of this as the season of pastel (Easter colors) before everything blooms into vivid color for summer. White chocolate with ribbons of dark chocolate top the tiny towers. The flavor is still all marzipan-like (though it is made with almond filling) with subtle hints of raspberry and Framboise Liqueur between the layers.

That I made several test batches of this stuff is testament to either my very stubborn nature or that I need an intervention. They had to have the right look and flavor and be easy to put together. At first they were complicated and time-consuming.  But then, success. This final recipe whips up quickly and tastes like little Rainbows should.

I made all the mistakes so you don’t have to do that. The cookie (more like a cake) layers are supposed to be very thin. The first few batches were a little too fluffy, almost like cakey Sears Towers. This one is just right.  Just for reference the entire little treat is just a little over 1 inch tall. That is an espresso cup and saucer in the photo, not a giant mug of coffee.

To get the pink colors to stick to the cake I had to make sure the cake was as white as it could be. So out went most of the yolks.

And last, what to use for the marzipan flavor. Almond paste is ridiculously expensive and hard to find, and not all brands are GF. And Marzipan is actually something different. But it’s the flavor you ultimately want. But not from marzipan. Turns out Solo Almond Filling  was the answer. It is not as white as almond paste, but it’ll do.

If you don’t know the magical Nick Malgieri you should. I was lucky enough to take a baking class from him once long ago. He is not only a fabulous pastry whisperer but a really nice guy. I used his white cake for some inspiration on how to keep this recipe from turning too yellow.  I also came across this Saveur recipe for Rainbows that helped me simplify this final recipe.

A word about color. I like to use India Tree stuff. It is ridiculously expensive but it does the trick. If you have a source for good color that is all natural, by all means use that one. I would have been able to use less if it was say, icing on the cake, but since it was cake batter and would be subject to heat you have to use a lot more  to get the color to stay. It fades like crazy as it cools. Some earlier versions started out bright pink and ended up barely there peach. Ick.

These Pastel Rainbows are a great Easter dessert or just a fun way to welcome spring. You can make them a day ahead because they taste even better the second day after the flavors all get to mingle. Any dessert I can prepare ahead of time makes me happy.

Hello, spring.

Pastel Rainbow Cookies, Gluten Free
These are elegant little cookie-cakes. They actually are easy to make but look like they took days to prepare. The flavor screams marzipan but the ingredient is almond filling. After applying the jam layers between the cakes you have to weigh them down with something like an extra cutting board, and allow them time in the refrigerator to chill together. Once they have their white chocolate ganache topping, don't refrigerate them. They keep quite well and taste best at room temperature. If you cut them up and leave them on a plate they get a chance to lose a bit of moisture which is just fine. They have plenty to spare. And remember, you aren't building the Sears Tower - you want short towers, not more than 1¼ inches with ganache. In this case, small is better.
  • 200 grams sugar (1 cup)
  • 285 grams unsalted butter, room temperature (2½ sticks)
  • 354 grams (1 can) Solo Almond Filling (12 oz can)
  • 300 grams egg: 4 large eggs, whites only plus one whole large egg
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 288 grams GF flour (144 grams superfine brown rice flour, 100 grams superfine white rice flour, 44 grams tapioca flour) (2 cups flour)
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
  • India Tree Red Natural Decorating Colors (use an all natural coloring source if possible)
  • 1 jar raspberry jam, strained (about 370 grams or 13 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons Framboise Liqueur
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
  • 3 oz. heavy cream (about ⅓ cup)
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped (bar, not chips!)
  • 4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter (3) 9x13 pans (I use quarter sheet pans). Line each buttered pan with parchment paper. Have extra parchment ready for when the cakes come out of the oven. Set aside.
  2. Weigh sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand-mixer. Mix on low with the paddle attachment until fully incorporated. Turn to medium speed and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add Solo almond filling and beat until it is fully incorporated. Add the eggs (4 whites plus one whole egg) a little at a time. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Add in almond extract. Weigh the flours into a small container and add the baking powder and salt and x-gum, if using. Whisk. With the mixer on low, add the flour until everything is mixed in. Remove the bowl and using a silicone spatula, give it a fold or two to make sure everything is mixed in. Using another two bowls (small-ish) divide the batter evenly into thirds (this where having a scale is handy). Add the colors you wish to use to each batter. Remember that baked batter color fades so it is fine to saturate the color a bit. It will lighten up. Spread batters in each prepared pan and smooth. Give each pan a whack on the counter-top to remove air bubbles. Bake about 10-12 minutes and check to see if a toothpick comes out clean. It goes from not baked to fully baked in a matter of a minute. Don't let it get brown because that will totally screw up the color. Cool in the pan for about 5 minutes. Place the extra parchment on top of each cake, add a cooling rack with the feet facing up and flip the whole thing over using pot holders. Remove the baking pan gently and peel away the bottom parchment very gently. Place it back on the cake to keep it from drying out while it cool. Repeat for each layer. Cool completely.
  1. Heat the jam until it is hot and pours easily. Strain into a small bowl. Add the liqueurs and stir. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Once the cake and filling are cool, assemble the layers. Place one layer on a parchment lined baking sheet or cutting board. Pour about ⅓ to ½ the jam mixture on the layer and spread just to the edges. Place the next layer on top and repeat. Place the third layer on top and leave it bare. Be sure to wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and put a cutting board on top to weigh it down somewhat so the layers adhere to one another. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before topping with ganache.
  1. Place the chopped white chocolate in a glass container. Heat the cream until it simmers. Pour over white chocolate and let it sit undisturbed about 2 minutes. Stir gently until the mixture is smooth. Let it cool slightly. Pour the white chocolate over the top of the cake and using an offset spatula, smooth it all the way to the edge but not over the side. Leave until it sets. Melt chocolate chips. Use a spoon or a piping bag and drizzle over the set white chocolate. Allow the dark chocolate to set. Trim the edges. Cut remaining cookies/cake into small squares.
  2. Store in a covered container at room temperature.

Here are some links for some other Rainbow Cookie and Almond Filling Goodies:

Carol @ Simply Gluten Free is offering a Solo Giveaway

Nicole @ GF on a Shoestring Gluten Free Rainbow Cookies 

Britt @ GF in the City GF Rainbow Cookies


  1. I’d never heard of Nick Malgieri. Love hearing about accomplished pastry chefs who are really nice people. He’s written, like, a million books! Holy cow.