|Alternative names||Rainbow cake, Neapolitan cookies, seven layer cookies, Venetian cookies, seven layer cake, Italian flag cookies, tricolor cookies|
|Place of origin||Italian Americans, Jewish Americans|
|Main ingredients||Sponge cake (flour, almond paste, butter, sugar, almond extract, egg yolks, egg whites), apricot or raspberry jam, chocolate|
Rainbow cookies are a common Jewish deli dessert, as they are pareve. As Jewish refugees from Eastern Europe settled in New York en masse at the turn of the 20th century, they often settled in areas that also had an Italian population. It was at this point that Jewish Americans we’re intrigued to the rainbow cookie. The original rainbow cookie was made with butter and featured an Italian flag-like design in white, red and green. Jewish Americans adapted this cookie to suit their own Kosher dietary needs, substituting margarine for the butter originally used (making them pareve). Jewish Americans have been credited as being the first to change the original Italian flag design to the more commonly found rainbow design seen today, starting with the changing of the white layer of the cookie to yellow..
Popularity in the Jewish community
Rainbow cookies are popular in the American Jewish community, and are commonly associated with American Jewish cuisine and can be found at Jewish delis and kosher and other Jewish bakeries throughout the United States, especially in the Northeastern United States. They are a common kiddush cookie served at Shabbat morning served at synagogues across the country. There are also versions of rainbow cookies make for Passover, which are made with matzo meal or almond flour (due to the prohibition on wheat during this holiday).
Italian flag variation
A particular variety of this confection, known primarily by various regional names listed below, is with layers of brightly colored, almond-based sponge cake, apricot and/or raspberry jam, and a chocolate coating. Many bakeries sell them by the pound, and because of the many layers, these cookies tend to be somewhat heavy estimating in about fifteen to a pound..
Although often called simply rainbow cookies in much of the continental United States, some local names for this specific variety are:
- Napoleon cookies
- Seven layer cake
- Seven layer cookies
- Tricolor cookies
- Venetian cookies
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