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neapolitan cookies

Neapolitan Cookies Recipe

yield: 15 cookies
Prep Time: 5 mins
Work Time: 30 mins
Bake Time: 10 mins
5 from 50 votes
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Special Equipment

  • A food processor
  • a 1-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop

Ingredients

For the Neapolitan Cookies

  • ½ cup (0.30 ounces or 8 grams) freeze-dried strawberries
  • 2 ½ cups plus 1 Tablespoon (12.85 ounces or 364 grams) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (8 ounces or 227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ¾ cups (12.35 ounces or 350 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops pink OR red food coloring
  • 2 Tablespoons black OR Dutch-processed cocoa powder

For Finishing

  • 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

Instructions

For the Neapolitan Cookies

  • Prep your oven and pans. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 3 half sheet pans with parchment paper.
  • Prep the freeze-dried strawberries. Use a food processor to pulse the freeze-dried strawberries into a fine powder.
  • Make the base cookie dough. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar. Beat on medium-high until light, fluffy, and doubled in volume, 2 to 3 minutes, using a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl as necessary. Reduce the mixer to low and add the egg and egg yolk one at a time, adding the next egg only after the previous one is fully incorporated, scraping down the bottom and sides of the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
  • With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients and beat until just combined. Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl once more, and beat on low for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Divide the dough. Use the rubber spatula to scrape the dough out onto a work surface and shape it into a rough ball. Use a bench scraper to divide it into three equal portions weighing roughly 11.75 ounces (333 grams) each.
  • Make the strawberry dough. Place one third of the dough back into the mixer and add the powdered strawberries and food coloring. Beat on low speed until just combined. Remove the dough and wipe down the inside of the bowl with a paper towel.
  • Make the chocolate dough. Place another third of the dough back into the mixer and add the cocoa powder. Beat on low speed until just combined.
  • Prep the cookies for shaping. Use a 1-Tablespoon cookie dough scoop to portion the vanilla (white) cookie dough into 15 balls. Wipe down the inside of the cookie dough scoop with a paper towel, then use the scoop to portion the strawberry (pink) cookie dough into 15 balls. Wipe down the inside of the cookie dough scoop once more, then use the scoop to portion the chocolate (brown) cookie dough into 15 balls.
  • Shape the cookies. Take a vanilla (white) cookie dough ball, a strawberry (pink) cookie dough ball) and chocolate (brown) cookie dough ball and press them gently together. They should adhere to each other but keep their own unique colors. Toss the tri-colored cookie dough ball in a shallow bowl filled with the remaining 2 Tablespoons of granulated sugar, covering it completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough balls.
  • Bake the cookies. Place the coated cookies at least 3 inches apart on the prepared sheet pans. Bake one pan at a time for 10 minutes, or until the edges have set but the centers are still gooey. The cookies will look puffed when you pull them out of the oven, but will fall and crack into the perfect cookies as they cool. Cool the cookies on the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes or until the edges and bottoms of the cookies have set and feel firm to the touch. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.
  • Serve and store. Serve warm, or at room temperature. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container or a zip-top bag at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Notes

  • Adapted from Sarah Kieffer's 100 Cookies: The Baking Book For Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More. Check out her Instagram @sarah_kieffer and blog, The Vanilla Bean Blog!
  • This Neapolitan cookie recipe instructs you to make one base sugar cookie dough recipe and divide it into three equal portions to make the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors of the cookie. Because I am a perfectionist, I ended up weighing the cookie dough on a digital scale. It came in at slightly more than 35.25 ounces (999 grams). As a result, I instruct you to divide the dough into three equal portions, weighing 11.75 ounces (333 grams) each. Note that these weights are just approximations. There will be variations based on factors like if you used measuring cups, egg sizes, and more. However, if you used a digital scale to measure your ingredients like I did, I'm confident you'll come in close to my numbers.
  • There are a couple of strategies here: I lightly pressed the three cookie dough balls together and didn’t really knead or meld them together. That way, each of the three flavors really kept their distinct shape and color in my final Neapolitan cookies. However, both Sarah and my friend Amy (who has a very similar recipe for Matcha Neapolitan Sugar Cookies) recommend rolling the ball between your palms (like you would Play-Doh). Doing so combines the three different cookie doughs a little more, creating streaks of different colors throughout each cookie. The advantage to my method is that the different flavors really stand out on their own. You’ll be able to take a bite out of the vanilla section and JUST taste vanilla, and so on. However, you’re still able to taste the different flavor combos together by biting intersections. A bite of the cookie where the vanilla and strawberry meet will taste like vanilla AND strawberries, a bite where the strawberry and chocolate meet will taste like strawberries AND chocolate, etc. The center of the cookie (where the three flavors intersect) will taste like all three flavors at once. Cool, right? However, if you want to taste all three flavors with EVERY bite, roll the cookie dough balls. Doing so will get the flavors to combine more and get a streaky, mottled looking cookie!
  • I like to bake the cookies one pan at a time. I find that doing so makes the best cookies, ensuring that none of them have overly burnt bottoms or raw centers. However, to save time, you can bake two sheet pans at a time. Position a rack in the upper-third position of the oven, and a second one in the lower-third position of the oven. Bake a pan on each rack, swapping their positions half way through the Bake Time.