Neapolitan Cookies

These soft and chewy sugar cookies are flavored with strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate.

Perfect for special occasions and holidays, Neapolitan cookies are buttery, sweet, and fun to make with kids!

Neapolitan cookies are chewy sugar cookies with three different flavors combined in each cookie. The most popular flavors are almond or vanilla for white, chocolate for brown, and strawberry or red velvet for red.

Where did Neapolitan Cookies Come From?

The Neapolitan cookies’ history is not very clear. Some say there are no Neapolitan cookies in Italy, but they often pop up in Italian bakeries around Christmas time as Pasticcini arcobaleno.

These Italian cookies have been eaten by generations of Italian immigrants in the US since the start of the 20th century.

The original colors of the cookies were green, white, and red to resemble the Italian flag. That’s why they’re also called ‘Tricolore’.

What are the other names for Neapolitan Cookies?

They’re also called Rainbow Cookies, Venetian Cookies, or Tricolor cookies.

Sometimes they’re also referred to as Seven Layered Cookies or Seven Layer Cakes. This is because these rainbow-colored cookies were traditionally made as layered cakes with jam in between each layer and a layer of chocolate on the top and bottom. So that’s 3 layers of cake, 2 layers of jam, and 2 layers of chocolate, totaling to 7.

The Jewish immigrants to the US in the early 1900s often settled in New York where they intermingled with the Italian population and incorporated the Neapolitan cookies into their diets.

The Jewish immigrants replaced the butter used with margarine to make the cookies ‘pareve’, and so were also responsible for changing the white layer of the cookie to yellow.

So these Neapolitan cookies are always easily found at both Italian and Jewish bakeries.

Because of their colorful nature, Neapolitan Cookies have become popular as holiday cookies too. And while most still retain the rectangular shape and almond flavor, some have transformed into round cookies with alternative flavors.

Whichever way you enjoy them, these Neapolitan cookies are a must-try!


What Will I Need to Complete this Recipe for Neapolitan Cookies?

For this recipe, you will need:
Red Velvet cake mix or Strawberry cake mix – for a darker red use the red velvet or the strawberry for a pink cookie.
Chocolate cake mix – Use a very chocolaty cake mix so the cookies will be a nice dark brown.
White cake mix
Eggs
Oil
Butter
Vanilla extract
Strawberry flavoring – if you like it to have a little more flavor.
Red food coloring – you can add a few drops to darken the color of your cookies.
Sugar, for rolling

You will need the following supplies:
3 Large mixing bowls
Stand mixer or hand mixer
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper

Recipe Pointers For Neapolitan Cookies

  • Use almond or maraschino flavor instead of vanilla to the white mixture for a more traditional taste.
  • You can add chopped nuts to the white part of the cookies.
  • You can add choco chips to the brown part of the cookies.
  • You can add bits of chopped freeze-dried strawberries to the red mixture.
  • If making the cookies for adults, you can add a bit of almond liqueur to the white, strawberry liqueur to the red, and chocolate liqueur to the brown sections.
  • For that extra elegance, dip one side of each cookie in a chocolate ganache.

FAQs about Neapolitan Cookies

Can I save some of the dough to bake for later?

Yes, just wrap it well in saran wrap and place in a freezer bag, squeeze the air out and place in the freezer. May be frozen for 1 to 2 months. Thaw before using.

Why are Neapolitan cookies called Tricolore?

Neapolitan cookies are called ‘Tricolore’ because they were originally green, white, and red in color and look like the Italian flag; which is referred to as ‘Il Tricolore’.

What is ‘pareve’?

Pareve foods or parve foods are any neutral foods that do not include meat or dairy products and thus can be eaten with either of the two types of food. They are an important part of Jewish culture.

How do I prevent the cookies from spreading out a lot?

Freeze the cookie dough before baking. This will prevent them from spreading out.

How should I store these cookies?

Store in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week.

Can I freeze the baked Neapolitan cookies?

Yes, you can. Wrap the cookies in plastic wrap followed by storing them in an airtight container. The cookies will store for months. When it’s time to eat them, thaw in the fridge overnight, then heat in the oven for a few minutes before serving.

What other recipes use the same colors/flavors?

Neapolitan ice creams and Neapolitan wafers use the same vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors and colors.

Yield: 60 - 70 Cookies

Neapolitan Cookies

Neapolitan Cookies

These soft and chewy sugar cookies are flavored with strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. Perfect for special occasions and holidays, Neapolitan cookies are buttery, sweet, and fun to make with kids!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 box Red Velvet cake mix or Strawberry cake mix
  • 1 box Chocolate cake mix
  • 1 box White cake mix
  • 3 eggs, divided
  • 1 cup oil, divided
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 ½ stick) unsalted butter, divided, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons strawberry flavoring (optional)
  • Red food coloring (optional)
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with non-stick spray.

Red Dough:

  1. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, beat one egg for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the red velvet or strawberry cake mix, ⅓ cup oil, 4 Tablespoons melted butter, and the strawberry flavoring. (If you want more red color, add red food coloring at this time.)
  3. Beat till a dough forms, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Remove the batter and place it in a bowl.
  5. Wash the mixer and paddle well between each use.

Brown Dough:

  1. Using the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat one egg for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the chocolate cake mix, ⅓ cup oil, and 4 Tablespoons melted butter.
  3. Beat till a dough forms, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Remove batter and place in a bowl.
  5. Wash the mixer and paddle well between each use.

White Dough:

  1. Using the stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat one egg for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the white cake mix, ⅓ cup oil, 4 Tablespoons melted butter, and the vanilla extract.
  3. Beat till a dough forms, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Remove batter and place in a bowl.


To assemble:

  1. Scoop a small teaspoon of red dough and make a ball, repeat with the brown and the white dough.
  2. Once you have 3 small balls, gently press them together and roll into one ball. Be very careful not to mix the colors together.
  3. Roll in sugar.
  4. Place on a cookie sheet and press down, making sure to keep the round cookie shape.
  5. Repeat until you have about 8 cookies on a sheet. Do not overcrowd or cookies will join together during baking.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 7 to 8 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.
  8. Serve with milk or coffee.
  9. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

70

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 74Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 16mgSodium: 34mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 3gProtein: 1g

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