Play With Your Food: Rainbow Cookies

Ken Leung’s food journal and blog, Hungry Rabbit, features sweet and savory treats that he cooks up in his New York City kitchen. Born and raised in Hong Kong, Leung’s early cooking education came from observing the daily happenings in his family kitchen. Don’t the colors in these cookies just scream “warm weather cheer”?

Photo by Ken Leung

Underlined steps denote where mini sous chefs can help.


  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 c granulated sugar, plus additional 2 tbsp
  • 2 tsp lemon zest from 1 lemon, freshly grated
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (10 oz), softened
  • 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 c unbleached all-purpose flour (15 oz)
  • 6 food coloring colors (suggested: red,
  • orange, yellow, green, blue, purple)
  • 1 tsp large egg white, lightly beaten

Place eggs in small saucepan, cover with 1 inch water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill small bowl with ice water. Using slotted spoon, transfer eggs to ice water and let stand 5 minutes. Crack eggs and peel shell. Separate yolks from white; discard white. Press yolks through fine-mesh strainer into small bowl.

Add sugar and lemon zest to a bowl. Use fingertips to rub the mixture until it resembles pale yellow wet sand.

In bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar mixture, salt, and cooked egg yolk on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with rubber spatula. Turn mixer to low, add vanilla, and mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add flour. Mix on low until just combined, about 1 minute. Using rubber spatula, press dough into cohesive mass.

Divide dough into six equal portions. Add food coloring to each piece and mix to achieve desired colors. Roll each portion on a piece of plastic wrap into a long strip, about 3 x 11 inches at 1/4 inch thick. Wrap each strip with the plastic wrap and chill until firm, about an hour.

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place purple dough on a cutting board and brush with egg white. Place blue dough on top of purple and brush with egg white. Repeat with remaining dough in the order of the rainbow. Using a chef’s knife, trim edges and slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rectangles. (If dough is too soft when slicing, chill it for an additional 20-30 minutes.)

Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets. Bake cookies for 14-16 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, transfer to wire rack, then cool.
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