When deciding which holiday cookies to make, there are a lot of factors to consider — things like taste, texture, and ingredients. But for me, the factor that wins out over all the others is usually appearance. I want a holiday cookie that looks good (and backs up that beauty with flavor).  

Enter: Neapolitan Sugar Cookie Bars. They’re layered and almondy and fruity and most importantly pink. And if you top with sprinkles (which I highly — highly! — recommend) they’re even more festive. But unlike many impressive holiday cookies, they’re a cinch to make: Being bar cookies, they require no shaping or rolling or intricate decorating to stand out.  

I will take a moment to call out the elephant in the room: These Neapolitan bars do not actually replicate the ~official~ Neapolitan ice cream flavor combination of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Instead, Test Kitchen Director Sarah Jampel, who developed this recipe, opted to use raspberry rather than the customary strawberry.

While not traditional, Sarah says “I chose raspberries, rather than strawberries, because I wanted to make the brightest pink glaze possible, which was easier to achieve with raspberries. Plus,” she adds, “raspberries tend to have a tarter, more concentrated berry flavor than strawberries, which I thought would pair nicely against the sweetness of the cookie itself.” (In addition to the zingy raspberry glaze, the bars also include a dash of almond extract, which evokes another striped Italian dessert: rainbow cookies.) 

Neapolitan Sugar Cookie Bars Photography by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne
These bars are part of our new holiday cookie lineup, A Cookie for Everyone, featuring 30 (!) different cookie recipes.

Neapolitan ice cream dates back to the 19th century, when Italians brought the tri-flavored novelty to the States, where it was quickly embraced. Though chocolate-vanilla-strawberry is the canonized combination, original iterations of Neapolitan ice cream actually weren’t so prescriptive. “Neapolitan ice cream” mainly referred to the method of combining several different flavors into one ice cream mold — sometimes pistachio was used in place of the strawberry, or lemon ice cream slipped in there, or even orange. (So Sarah’s use of raspberry in place of strawberry isn’t so revolutionary after all — though we still like to think of this raspberry version as neo-politan cookies.)

These bar cookies take inspiration from the iconic Neapolitan Cookies recipe that Sarah Kieffer published a few years ago (which in turn were inspired by the Neapolitan cookies that Mathew Rice served at his Nashville cookie shop Pink Door Cookies). Here, they’re transformed into sliceable bars, making them equally suited to a party plate or cross-country shipment. “I wanted to take the idea of chocolate, fruit, and vanilla, then change the form into a cookie bar that is slightly faster to assemble and didn’t use freeze-dried fruit,” explains Sarah.

And indeed, these bars are easier to make than individual cookies. You simply press one layer of chocolate dough into an 8" square pan, smooth a layer of vanilla dough on top, and, once baked, pour raspberry glaze over the top (this is the time to add the optional-but-not-really sprinkles). The bars can be cut as small or large as you like — and the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you want a big batch for gifting.

We’ve got holiday cookies for everyone this season: See our brand-new batch of holiday cookies, A Cookie for Everyone, organized by flavor, texture, and style so you can find just the right recipe. 

Cover photo by Rick Holbrook; food styling by Kaitlin Wayne.

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Neapolitan Sugar Cookie Bars
Neapolitan Sugar Cookie Bars
4.2 out of 5 stars 21 Reviews
1 hr 5 mins
24 small (1 1/3” x 2”) bars
Recipe in this post
Filed Under: Recipes
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About Rossi Anastopoulo

Rossi Anastopoulo grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, which is how she fell in love with biscuits. She didn’t have any bakers in her household (with the exception of her grandmother’s perfect koulourakia), so she learned at a young age that the best way to satisfy her sweet tooth was to make dess...
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