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.

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 was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...


  1. Sue

    Great idea! My child care kids will love this.I think I will try coloring the sugar cookie dough for a more dramatic look :-)

    That’ll definitely work, Sue – just remember, since the cookies are kind of yellow, they’ll give any color you add that tint (e.g., blue will be kinda greenish…) Let us know how they come out! PJH

  2. Audrey

    what a great idea! I’ve seen ‘appliqued’ cookies and a similar cookie using tinted sugar cookie dough, but this one has (ahem) captured my heart.

    :) PJH

  3. fran16250

    I was just wondering, could you cut the shapes out of the raw dough and swap them before baking?

    Fran, the dough is too sticky. You could try partially freezing and doing it that way, though – if you froze them just the right amount, till they were hard but not rock-solid, I’ll bet this would work. Let us know how it goes if you try it. PJH

  4. justplainbeth

    My daughter has a tree nut allergy. Could I just leave out the almond extract, or should I use more Vanilla?

    Leave out the almond extract, Beth – no need to add more vanilla (unless you want to – not a problem adding more). PJH

  5. Michael

    I never know how long I should let these cookies cool before wrapping them up. Last time I thought they were totally cooled and felt very dry. The next day, after I placed them into a plastic bag I found them crumbling and falling apart. They were very moist, completely the oposite of how they were when I placed them into the plastic bag. What is the rule here that I violated?

    The next time I let them stay out to long and I found them drying out. :(

    Please advise as to what I am not understanding.

    Hi Michael,
    The baked goods should be stone cold to the touch before being wrapped. Cookies cool down fairly quickly, so you wouldn’t need hours and hours of cooling time. You may want to sacrifice one cookie by breaking it open and checking to see if it is cool inside before you pack them up. Besides. once you break a cookie all the calories fall out, so you’ll be that much more ahead of the game! ;) ~ MaryJane

  6. "Faith M"

    Could this idea be used with fudge? I was thinking to make the fudge thin, cut into squares, and swap out shapes.
    That sounds like a great idea! Vanilla orange, chocolate mint, cherry vanilla… the possibilities boggle the mind! ~ MaryJane

  7. tntst15

    Great idea! Could I make the doughs in advance, freeze, and thaw before I’m ready to bake these up?

    Don’t see why not – should work fine. PJH

  8. arl18

    What a great idea! Other combinations that would be good are chocolate and peanut butter or chocolate and coconut for a Mounds bar flavor.

    Oh, YEAH! :) PJH

  9. astrosmom

    Looks wonderful. I think I’ll melt some white or dark chocolate chips and dip the back of the cookies to “glue” them better and to add another layer, maybe even dip the center heart first then place inside of the other cookie?!! Can’t wait to try.

    You folks have such good ideas! Thanks for sharing here – and more chocolate is always welcome, in my book. PJH

  10. JOTmon

    For the member wanting to tint the sugar cookies, it might help a bit to use “white” vanilla. Don’t know if you can buy this in grocery; I get it at cake decorating store or that department in a craft store; I use itfor icing that I want to be pure white. Since the butter will add a lot of color too, the white vanilla might not help much unless you substitute for the butter- maybe use a different recipe that calls for shortening. I’ve found that most cookie recipes work well by substituting margarine but buying white margarine may be very difficult, if not impossible, these days.

  11. milkwithknives

    These cookies remind me of the commercials we saw on tv growing up, for those logs of grocery store cookie dough with the shapes in the middle. Where you slice off the cookies and, like magic, there’s a green Christmas tree or a pumpkin or something. Our mom always baked us incredible homemade cookies and never bought any from the store, but my young child’s brain was always completely fascinated by those magic cookies on tv. I never thought of trying to recreate them at home, but now I see how it can be done. I hate to sound drippy, but this post almost makes me a little emotional, bringing back a long gone childhood memory. I’m going to do these in a couple of weeks and surprise my husband with them for Valentines. Thanks so much for another wonderful entry. -Erin

  12. Joe

    My grandmother turned anything into chocolate with natural cocoa powder. I often add a 1/4 cup to half of a chocolate chip cookie recipe to make a two toned cookie by putting a scoop of each dough together on a cookie sheet before baking. I have also added cocoa powder to a frequently used sugar cookie recipe. Do you think that idea would work here to save a step in making the two cookies or would the difference in texture due to the addition of cocoa powder be a problem?

    Really couldn’t say, Joe. But it’s definitely worth a shot; I think the cocoa might affect the spread, so you MIGHT want to stir in a little bit of milk along with the cocoa… Let us know how it goes, OK? PJH

  13. Andrea

    I just made these and they came out great! At first I was a little frustrated, because it seemed like I was breaking several cookies trying to get the hearts out of them, but they really do glue back together well. I put each pan back in the oven for another 30 seconds or so just to make sure they would stick, and they did. I also dyed my vanilla dough with red gel coloring and a dash of purple (to counter act the yellowness of the dough) and got a really lovely dark pink color. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    Good for you, Andrea, sticking with it. I think sometimes we expect everything to go perfectly, all the time. A couple of cracked cookies as you were learning the “technique” wasn’t too high a price to pay, was it? And besides – the mistakes are delicious! :) PJH

  14. lemonlavender

    I made this today – actually made the two types of dough last night (following each recipe exactly), and let them chill overnight. This morning, I used a little flour and rolled out a piece of chocolate dough and a piece of vanilla dough – about 1/4″ thick or a bit less. I cut out circles (2 1/4″ across), then used a heart-shaped cookie cutter (about 1 1/4″) to cut out the middle of each circle. I swapped the chocolate & vanilla hearts, baked for 7-8 minutes at 375.
    The cookies turned out perfectly! There’s a heart securely in the middle of each circle – and they look great!
    Thanks for this blog – love to hear the ideas of all the dedicated bakers out there!

    Thanks for letting us know the dough is rollable – that makes it even more versatile. Thanks so much, too, for sharing your success here- PJH

  15. nelll

    Thanks, Lemonlavender (great name!) for sharing your experience. I was wondering if this idea would work with a slice-and-bake refrigerator cookie dough, for example.

    Can anyone tell me the texture of these cookies when baked? Are they crispy or soft? The people I want to bake for definitely like soft cookies (snickerdoodle soft, Toll-House soft) or chewy-soft if I’m making oatmeal cookies, for example.

    Crispy cookies (like Christmas decorated cookies or shortbread) are a big flop and I don’t want to go to a lot of trouble to make a cookie that will be a dud with them, even if it looks great to me.

    When I was able to get a bite of these they were a firm, slightly chewy center with a crisp edge. Frank @ KAF.

  16. nelll

    Hi PJ,

    I’ve been looking at the recipe for sugar cookies and it says to add corn syrup to make them soft and bendy. Various reviewers say that with the corn syrup, the sugar cookies are chewy the next day. And the recipe for the chocolate cookies also has corn syrup. So wouldn’t they be soft and bendy with the corn syrup added to both doughs? Would I need to add John’s original suggestion of a generious 1/4 cup of corn syrup to get the same ‘bendiness’ that reviewers are describing with the corn-syrup version of the sugar cookies?

    Sorry it that’s too confusing. From the hints and reviews of the sugar cookies, it seems that the degree of that one flattens the cookies also affects whether they are crispy or chewy.

    I’m math-challenged and a bit confused on the numbers of cookies that the two recipes will make. I think here it says that there will be 6 (or 8?) extra sugar cookies. John’s original recipe says that his recipe yields 30 cookies. But then the sugar cookie recipe has no yield listed. Rather, on the hints side-bar, it says that if you add 1/2 cup of flour to the recipe, you’ll get 6 dozen cookies. Is that because you roll them out thin and cut them? If you don’t roll them but drop them, you’ll get 38 cookies?

    I’m thinking of not flattening them much, and using corn syrup in both recipes to try to get something like a snickerdoodle – a little crispy edge but soft/chewy/bendy in the middles, especially the second day.

    Because of who I would be baking for, I want to end up with about 6 dozen chocolate-with-white-hearts cookies. If I doubled both recipes, would I get more or less that many? (The white with chocolate centers would go to a different group of people.)

    I’d say try adding the corn syrup, and see what happens. You’ll get 4 to 4 1/2 dozen finished cookies, if you follow the recipe as written; 8 of those will be “vanilla on vanilla” cookies, because yes, the sugar cookie recipe makes about 8 more cookies than the chocolate cookie recipe. So, for 6 dozen, you’d increase each recipe by 50%, Hope this helps- PJH

  17. misoranomegami

    Lol! Glad you enjoyed it! I’ll tell you the other secret. I do this with prefrozen dough. I keep a variety of different preportioned cookie doughs in the freezer that all bake at the same rate (this is why freeze chests were invented) so I can make a variety easily.

    Hey, thanks for the tip – I’ll have to try that sometime. PJH

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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


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