“Each of these Neapolitan cookies is like a snowflake,” says pastry chef Mathew Rice.
No two are the same.
As Mathew showed me how to make these stunning Neapolitan cookies, I watched him take his time gathering some chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla dough and packing the trio tightly into his ice cream scoop.
Each time, the pattern came out slightly differently and I loved them all!
What is a Neapolitan Cookie?
Neapolitan desserts are those that are tri colored, containing three flavors – vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.
The tri colored cookies are another great way to enjoy Neapolitan flavors! They are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry sugar cookies. Try a little of each flavor at a time or eat them all in one big bite!
How to Make Neapolitan Cookies
To make Neapolitan cookies, you start out with one batter. That batter then gets divided into a chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry part.
The Vanilla Part
The vanilla part is the part that you don’t do anything else to.
The Strawberry Part
I was more than a little bit surprised when Mathew shared one of his secret ingredients with me.
He used strawberry Nesquik for the strawberry part of these cookies.
He went on to explain that he recently learned that Nesquik is now all-natural and even uses beet for coloring.
The Chocolate Part
Use cocoa powder for the chocolate part of the cookies.
Decorating Neapolitan Cookies
Mathew says that he likes to buy all different sprinkles and then mix them together to form his own blends. The sprinkle mix on his cookies is a beautiful example.
Mathew (shown above) created these cookies for an Ice Cream-themed fundraising event in St. Louis where he also served this cake:
The Neapolitan Cookie Recipe
Huge thank you to Mathew Rice for providing the recipe below. These cookies are soft, chewy, and have three distinct flavors. Enjoy!
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon nonfat dried milk powder
- 2 tablespoons Strawberry Nesquik powder or 2 tablespoons ground freeze dried strawberries
- 2-3 drops red food coloring
- 2 tablespoons slightly crushed freeze dried strawberries optional
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Assorted pink brown, and white sprinkles optional
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar. Cream on high speed until the mixture goes from yellow to white, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and milk powder. Add slowly to the creamed mixture. Mix on low speed only until the flour disappears.
- Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper and form it into a cylinder with your hands. Divide it as evenly as possible into three pieces.
- Set aside one portion and put it into the container you'll be using to chill your cookie dough. This is your vanilla part.
- Place another portion back into the mixer bowl. Add the Strawberry Nesquik (or freeze dried berries) and food coloring. Mix until pink. Fold in the berry pieces, if using. Add to the container with the vanilla dough.
- Add the last portion of dough to the mixer, and mix in the cocoa powder. Add to the container of dough.
- Chill for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Scoop across all three doughs using a 1/3 ounce scoop (about the size of a ping pong ball). Aim for a fairly equal mix of all three and use your hand to pack the dough tightly into the scoop.
- Space evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a couple of inches between each scoop.
- Roll in sprinkles, if using.
- Bake until cookies spread nicely, and the vanilla parts are golden around the edges, about 15 minutes.