Italian Rainbow Cupcakes

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(Original Post Date:  August 13, 2010)

Have you ever had an Italian Rainbow Cookie?  I had them for the first time last year… and they are so good!  Three layers of spongy-almond dough (in colors to mimic the Italian flag) with chocolate surrounding all sides… yum!

I’ve been on a cupcake kick lately… so I thought, why not try to make a cake version of this cookie?  I started with a basic butter cake recipe, but added almond paste to give it that distinctive almond flavor.

Tinting the cake batter with food coloring gave the three distinctive layers, and I finished it off with a little dark chocolate ganache and chocolate sprinkles.

Italian Rainbow Cupcakes:

  • 2 sticks (1 c.) unsalted butter
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. milk
  • 7 oz tube almond paste, grated
  • 2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 10 oz. good quality dark chocolate
  • 1 c. heavy cream

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners (this recipe will make approximately 18 cupcakes).

2.  Unwrap the almond paste, and coarsely grate using a box grater.  Set aside.

3.  Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.   Set aside.

4.  Cream the butter and sugar for several minutes until light and fluffy.

5.  Add the eggs, 1 egg at a time until thoroughly combined.

6.  Add the milk, almond paste, and almond extract and mix until uniformly combined.

7.  Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

8.  Divide the batter into three bowls (about 1 3/4 c. per bowl).  Put three drops of red food coloring into the first bowl, three drops of yellow into the next, and three drops of green into the last.  Mix until uniformly tinted.

9.  Layer the batter into each cupcake liner: 1 T. of pink on the bottom, 1 T. yellow in the middle, then 1 T. green on top.

10.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until done.

11.  Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  Cool completely before frosting.

12.  Meanwhile, make the chocolate ganache.  For step by step photos, see this post on chocolate cream filled cupcakes.  (The instructions for making ganache are at the beginning.)

Basically, heat the cream in a pyrex measuring cup in the microwave for 3-4 minutes.  Pour the hot cream over broken up pieces of chocolate in a large heat-proof bowl.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.  Then begin whisking together until smooth and creamy.  Place a piece of plastic wrap on top, and allow to sit out at room temperature for several hours until set.  (I already had some leftover ganache from the day before)

13.  When the cupcakes are cool, and the ganache is set, frost each cupcake with a thick layer of ganache.

14.  You can stop here if you want… or you can dip the top of the cupcake into a plate of chocolate sprinkles.

You can store these at room temperature (covered with plastic wrap) for about 2 days.  If you need to keep them any longer, store in the refrigerator.


  1. valerie says:

    you forgot the jelly:(

    • Mika Mika says:

      No, I didn’t… the one thing I’m not a big fan of in the Italian Rainbow cookies is the jam between the layers. So I purposely left it out. But everything you make is to your taste! So if you like, you can always add a scant teaspoon of jam between the batter layers before baking. That’s the great thing about baking from scratch – you can do whatever you want! :)