Heart of gold… or heart of darkness? The cookie with a fickle heart.

Fancy – it doesn’t HAVE to be fussy…

The following blog comment was posted by “Angela,” in response to a post on linzer cookies:

“Another favorite trick of mine to use with any mini cookie cutter. Bake a dozen each of 2 different types of cookies (ex.: sugar and snickerdoodle, or chocolate fudge). Then while they’re still warm, cut the centers out and swap them out! As the cookies cool the pieces stick together and you get, for instance, a sugar cookie with a cinnamon heart in the center.”

What a fabulous idea! We were thinking sugar cookies and chocolate cookies would make a striking combination.

But which recipes to use? For this to work, the cookies would need to bake for the same time, at the same temperature, rise/spread the same, and make about the same number of cookies.

We figured our Guaranteed Sugar Cookies would work just fine. But which chocolate cookie to pair them with?

Serendipity! “John,” a member of the Baking Circle, our online community, posted this recipe just as we started looking for the ideal chocolate cookie. As it turned out, John’s recipe was a wonderful match: same baking time and temperature; same, size, shape, rise, and spread.

The sugar cookie recipe makes about 8 more cookies than the chocolate cookie recipe. But heck, who’d ever complain about a surfeit of sugar cookies?

While it’s somewhat of a project to make two batches of dough, then do the heart swap, we think the result is well worth the effort. Thanks, Angela and John!

Since the chocolate dough has to chill before using, we’ll make that one first.

Melt 3/4 cup unsalted butter and 1 ounce semisweet or unsweetened chocolate, in a microwave oven or double boiler set over a burner. Set it aside.

Put 3/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Pour the melted chocolate/butter into the bowl.

Stir to combine, then add the following:

2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg

Mix thoroughly.

Add the following:

1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional but good
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup Double-Dutch Dark Cocoa or Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Mix until everything is combined.

Since you’ll probably need your stand mixer bowl for the next batch of cookies, transfer the chocolate dough to another bowl. Notice its beautifully smooth, silky texture; it’s the kind of dough you just want to sink your hands into…

Cover the bowl, and refrigerate the dough for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s solidified and stiffened up enough that it’s easily scoopable.

While the chocolate dough is chilling, make the vanilla cookie dough.

Put the following in a mixing bowl:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

Beat until well combined, and as lump-free as possible. This is why you make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature; it’ll be much easier to mix into the butter and sugar if it’s not ice cold.

Add the following:

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg

Beat until smooth.

Notice the lumps in my batter? That’s because the cream cheese was straight out of the fridge. As usual, do what I say – not what I do!

Add the following:

3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt

Beat slowly to combine.

Mix until everything comes together.

Next step: bake and switch!

Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a couple of baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Using a very slightly heaped tablespoon cookie scoop, drop six balls of vanilla cookie dough on one of the baking sheets, spacing them evenly with about 2” in between.

If you don’t have a tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the sheet in balls a generous 1 1/4” in diameter.

Do the same with six balls of the chocolate cookie dough. Gently flatten each ball of dough to about 2” across.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes.

While they’re baking, get your heart (or other shape) cookie cutter ready; you need a cutter that’s 1 3/4” to 2” across.

Also, prepare your next sheet of cookies for the oven.

When they’re done, the cookies will have puffed up and formed fissured tops.

Take them out of the oven, and set your timer for 4 minutes.

After 4 minutes, cut a heart out of the center of one of the vanilla cookies.

If you’re lucky, the cutout will stick to the cutter, making it easy to move.

Cut the center out of a chocolate heart.

Switch hearts: vanilla into chocolate, chocolate into vanilla.

Working quickly, repeat with the remaining cookies. It’s the heat of the still-warm cookies that’ll “glue” the cutout centers in place; you can’t afford to let the cookies get too cool, or the centers won’t stick.

If, despite your best efforts, the cookies DO get too cool, just pop them back in the oven for a minute or so, to re-warm.

And, for best stability, pop each sheet of cookies back into the oven for 5 minutes or so, once you’ve finished making the transfer; this will help anchor the heart centers more firmly.

Hint: Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to bake your next sheet of cookies while you’re working on this first one. But the first time you try it, give yourself a break and avoid stress: finish one sheet of baked cookies completely before putting the next sheet into the oven.

Change the look by putting vanilla hearts bottom-side-up in the chocolate cookies; the bottom of the cookie will be medium-gold, rather than cream-colored. This yields more of a “heart of gold” look.

Do the same with the chocolate hearts, if you prefer a smoother look.

Repeat the process with the remaining cookie dough.

You’ll have some leftover vanilla cookie dough, enough to make about 8 cookies. Cut hearts out of the center, and flip them over so the bottom’s on the top: heart of gold!

And there you have it: fancy, not fussy.

Well, not TOO fussy. Any time I don’t have to mix up a batch of icing, or deal with a piping bag and tips – I’m good!

Note: These cookies are best enjoyed within several days of making them. Wrap tightly, and store at room temperature. They’re not good candidates for freezing, as the centers tend to loosen when frozen, then thawed.

Read, rate, and review (please) our recipe for Heart of Gold Cookies.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Itsalulu

    Hi KAF,

    I used your Linzer Cookie/Holiday Butter Cookie recipe for the vanilla cookie and your Chocolate Cut-Out Cookie recipe for the chocolate cookie recipe, rolled them out, cut them with your “tag” cookie cutter (and your small heart shaped cutter for switching the middles.) I placed the vanilla hearts in the chocolate cookies and vice versa BEFORE baking and they turned out beautifully!! I kept the temperature at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes rather than risk taking it up to 375 and browning the vanilla cookies too much. Now they are in freezer and all ready to go for my kids’ school Valentine’s Day parties! Thanks for a great recipe! P.S. the tag shape turned sideways makes it look like a jar with a heart in it…

    Thanks for the inspiration – I’ll have to try that! PJH

  2. Cindy

    I have switched the middle before baking the cookies. I did that for a wedding where the cookies were flowers. I put chocolate dough in the white cookies and white in the chocolate cookies. The cutter cutout the middle and I set it aside to use when I cutout opposite dough. Everyone liked them.

    Good idea, Cindy – that way the different doughs can actually bake right into each other. I ws a bit worried about the dough being too soft to do that effectively; glad it works for you, and thanks for sharing here. PJH

  3. Trudy

    Sometimes I too have started a recipe and discovered that the cream cheese needs to be softened. I’ve been successful filling a bowl with very hot water and letting the unopened foil-wrapped cream cheese sit in it while I get the rest of the ingredients together. Usually by the time I need to combine it the cheese is soft enough to cream lump-free with my KitchenAid.


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