tricolor cake

Back before I started getting really into baking, family events and holidays often included a cake or a tray of pastries from a nearby Italian bakery.  One of my favorite things from said bakery (or any Italian bakery, really) were the tricolor cookies.  You know, the pink, yellow and green ones with the layers of jam and the chocolate coating on the outside?  I could eat those by the dozen.  The funny thing about those cookies is that they’re not quite cookies at all – the texture is much more like cake than cookie.  Almondy, spongy, delicious cake, filled with jam and topped with bittersweet chocolate.

So if the cookies are basically made of cake, why not just make a cake?!  Best idea ever.  Of course, I wasn’t the first one to come up with this concept (which saved me a lot of trouble trying to play around with ingredient ratios and whatnot :) ).  Once I saw the beautiful cake over on Always Order Dessert, I knew that would be the one I would be trying.  And I was certainly glad I did!  This cake was perfect – it tasted exactly like the tricolor cookies I love so much.  I knew it was a hit when we came home from a New Year’s Eve party with 1/4 of a cake left, and we actually ended up finishing it! With the amount of desserts that tend to appear in our kitchen, not everything always gets finished – but in this case, every last bite was savored.


For the cake:

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces almond paste
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon almond extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • red, yellow and green food coloring
  • 1/3 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves

For the ganache:

  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour three 8-inch round pans, then line the bottoms with a circle of parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  Add in the almond paste and continue to beat on medium speed until incorporated.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the almond extract, scraping down the bowl as needed.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 additions, alternating with the milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition on low speed just until incorporated.

Divide the batter evenly between 3 bowls, then color each bowl a different color (pink, yellow & green).  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pans, using an offset spatula to smooth the tops.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Remove the cakes to wire cooling racks and allow to cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn the cakes out of the pans and allow to cool completely.

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, until just barely starting to simmer.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and allow to sit for 2 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Allow to cool until thick and spreadable.

To assemble the cake, level the cakes as necessary.  Begin with the pink cake layer as your base, and spread the raspberry jam over the pink layer.  Top with the yellow cake layer, followed by the apricot jam, and finally the green cake layer.  Spoon the ganache over the top of the cake, using an offset spatula to smooth it out over the top and sides.  Allow to sit at room temperature until the ganache is completely set (1-2 hours).

Source: Always Order Dessert

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  1. omg this is the cutest cake ever. i so want to make this!

  2. So happy you enjoyed my recipe!! Thanks for sharing-love your post! It’s one of my favorites (both that cake and the original cookies).

  3. I love those cookies!! I once made them from scratch, and it basically involved making the cake layers and then layering and cutting them up into cookies. This is going to be my birthday cake one day. Too bad my birthday just passed.

    • Solano’s Kitchen says:

      Shirley – same here, and I have to say, I liked making the cake a lot better than making the cookies (although they’re equally delicious!) This would make a fantastic birthday cake!

  4. Please advise how I would adjust this recipe for a 10×13 rectangle cake.

  5. This looks so delicious, I will try this soon as this is my daughters favorite. when we kived in NY we were close to an Italian bakery and she would always go there to get her tri-color cookies. We can only get this in one bakery here in Tampa, FL…too far for me to drive. I will let you know how it turns out ! Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  6. Karen Mase says:

    Just made this cake for first time this past weekend. Was such a huge hit going to make it again this weekend. Too many parties! Can anyone tell me if almond paste has gluten? Thought I’d try a gluten free version for one of the guests.

    • Ali @ Solano’s Kitchen says:

      I’m glad to hear that Karen!! Almond paste does not have gluten in it!

      • Well, here is going again! Requested to make it yet again. BTW, gluten free version came out great. Simply replaced flour with a good gluten free flour.


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