Brown Butter Heart Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day! I like you guys. I made you cookies.

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

I know what you’re thinking: What kind of loser posts a Valentine’s recipe on the day itself? (Way harsh, Tai…but accurate.) If I were any kind of legitimate food blogger, I would have an editorial calendar. I would plan things in advance. I would make my Christmas goodies in July, and Easter goodies in December. I would carefully schedule my holiday posts so that they were released well in advance, giving readers plenty of time to buy the ingredients and make the recipes.

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

Unfortunately for me (and you) I am pretty much the exact opposite of that kind of blogger. Here we are again, February 14th, when the good people of the world have already made and given away their treats of choice, and I’m just now showing up to the party with a plate of heart-shaped cookies and hopeful puppy-dog eyes. “Please? Just one more Valentine’s Day treat? Surely there’s time for one more?”

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |


If you can find it in your heart to endure one more Valentine’s Day anything, let it be these cookies. They may look like standard sugar cookies, but they’re actually much more exciting. These roll-out cookies are made with brown butter, which gives them a nutty, savory flavor that helps keep the fondant topping from becoming cloyingly sweet.

Brown Butter Heart Cookies | SugarHero.comJust look at those flecks of brown butter love

The dough holds its shape beautifully during baking, and the resulting cookies are crisp around the edge and tender in the center (I can’t hang with sugar cookies that are crisp all the way through.) I imagine this dough might work well as a tart crust, too, and you can bet I’ll be testing that hypothesis soon.

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

I used homemade marshmallow fondant to top these cookies. Royal icing may seem like the obvious choice, but I wanted the top layer to be really clean and have perfect edges, and fondant seemed like the faster, easier option for a royal icing avoider such as myself.  It’s also great at protecting the cookies and keeping them softer for longer periods of time.

Homemade marshmallow fondant is really easy and fast to make—you literally need just 3 ingredients, and 1 minute in the microwave. But if you’re low on time, you can use pre-made fondant, or you can use your favorite royal icing or glaze recipe.

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

But enough about the components, let’s talk about this sexy paint job these cookies are sporting! I first saw this ombre effect on Sweet Sugar Belle. The cookies are made using Wilton’s Color Mist sprays, and I love how it looks like they’ve been airbrushed, when really all it took was a $3 can of paint from Michael’s. There’s a great tutorial of the process on Callye’s blog if you’re interested in recreating the look.

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

Ombre was actually my second decorating technique. I first made all of the cookies with a gingham pattern—I thought it would be extra-cute with the ruffled heart cutters, sort of a down-home country charm theme. Some of the cookies did turn out really well, but others looked a little sloppy and in the end it just wasn’t quite what I wanted. Fortunately, the fondant topping made it really easy to peel off the bad decorations and start again with a clean slate! Here’s a quick look at how I achieved the gingham effect:

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

My biggest piece of advice would be to use a very stiff piece of cardstock or thin cardboard, so that you can really press it down on top of the cookie and keep the spray from sneaking underneath the stripes where it doesn’t belong. Also, with both of these designs, make sure that you cover your work station well! I ended up with a pink tinge to my entire tabletop and the surrounding floors, even though I thought I did a good job of covering them. At least having pink soles got me in the Valentine’s day spirit!

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

Although these are too late for you to make for today, I’m pretty sure that beautifully decorated brown butter cookies will be appreciated by your loved ones year-round. You can always use these techniques with other shapes and colors, too, and if you experiment, I’d love to see what you come up with!

Brown Butter Heart Cookies |

And finally, a big THANK YOU to all of you. I feel overwhelmed pretty much on a daily basis, and I never have the time to visit and comment on every blog that I want to. I always feel badly when people comment or link and I don’t have the time to return the favor. Please know that I love and appreciate all of the kind comments, emails, and facebook messages, and I am always, always trying to be better. Love you, mean it!

Click Here to Print the Recipe!

Brown Butter Roll-Out Cookies with Fondant
cookie recipe adapted from Gourmet Magazine, fondant recipe from Candy
yield: 12 3-inch heart cookies

For the cookies:
6 oz (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed
2 cups + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp corn starch
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the marshmallow fondant:
6 ounces miniature marshmallows (about 3 cups)
12 ounces (3 cups) powdered sugar
4 tsp water

To make the cookies:
Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Allow it to melt and come to a gentle boil. Continue to cook it, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pan, as it grows darker in color. After about 8-10 minutes it should be golden brown and fragrant, with brown bits on the bottom. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the butter into a large mixing bowl. Let it cool to room temperature.

While you wait for the butter to cool, mix together the flour, corn starch, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Once the butter is cool, add the sugars to the mixing bowl and mix everything together on medium speed until fluffy and well-mixed. Add the egg and vanilla, and mix again. Finally, stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients. Mix together on low just until the drys are nearly incorporated and just a few streaks of flour remain. Finish mixing everything with a spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Divide the dough in half and press each into a thin disc, wrapping well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firmer but not hard, about 30 minutes.

When you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place a disc of dough between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper, and roll out until it is 1/4-inch thick. (I did not need to add any extra flour during the rolling process, but you may find a light dusting helps.) Cut out your shapes and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Put the sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking to help the cookies hold their shape.

Bake the trays of cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges are golden and they have lost the raw shine in the middle. Let the cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Re-roll scraps of dough together to cut out more cookies. If at any point it becomes too warm to work with, chill it briefly in the refrigerator until you can once again roll and cut cookies easily.

To make the fondant:
Combine the marshmallows and water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute, then stir well. If the marshmallows are not fully melted after this time, microwave again in short increments until it’s melted and smooth.

Add the powdered sugar and stir well. The mixture will be sticky and stiff, and it will seem as if there’s too much powdered sugar. Dump the contents of the bowl out onto your work surface, and knead it together by hand. The fondant will gradually smooth out and incorporate more and more of the powdered sugar. If it is still too sticky once all of the powdered sugar is used, continue add small amounts until you get a smooth, pliable paste. Marshmallow Fondant can be made days in advance and kept, well-wrapped in cling wrap, at room temperature until ready to use.

To top the hearts, dust a work surface with powdered sugar. Roll the fondant out until it is about 1/8-inch thick. Use the same cutter you used for the cookies to cut the fondant into shapes. Brush a cookie with a very thin layer of corn syrup, and press the fondant on top to get it to adhere.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.


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23 Responses to Brown Butter Heart Cookies
  1. Danguole says:

    “Well, you’re a virgin who can’t drive.” Bahaha! Forget Martha–we just need our own show. I have a feeling it’d mostly consist of cracking ourselves up with random movie/TV references.

    Aaaaand, you are majorly talented and now I want to play with fondant and edible spray paint.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Don’t toy with me–tell me we can make that happen. I know a lot of people who would pay good money to watch us crack ourselves up and make food!*

      *Okay, one person. And she’s my mom. And she never watches TV. But still…

  2. Liz says:

    You’re too funny and cute! Love your story and your cookies are beautiful…for any time of the year! :)

  3. Caley says:

    Haha, you cracked me up with the Clueless reference. ;) These are so gorgeous and I’d love to try making them. Maybe an Easter version next month!

  4. I LOVE brown butter and sugar cookies so this is totally a natural winner for me… Maybe I’ll be on the ball and make these for Easter tomorrow. :)

    • Elizabeth says:

      OMG, are you one of those plan-aheaders? Teach me your secrets! I’m brainstorming Easter ideas already but I know that it’ll be, like, 3 days before Easter before I finally get around to making them.

  5. Don’t forget St. Patrick’s Day is next!! I really need to try your recipe for marshmallow fondant. The cookies look great!

  6. These look so great! Who cares if valentine’s day has passed – hearts are always in season, especially when made with browned butter. ;)

  7. Laura says:

    This made me laugh–my Valentine’s cookies did not even make it to my blog until a few days AFTER the day. But hey this is what Pinterest is for and these are gorgeous!

    • Elizabeth says:

      Ha! Seriously, though, what did we do before Pinterest? Where else can you gleefully browse holiday recipes year-round and not be judged? :)

  8. Jan says:

    This recipe sounds so delicious, couldn’t wait to make it. The dough didn’t hold together though, probably because I strained out most of the browned butter bits and reduced the amount of fat. I grated a little cold butter into the mixer bowl to make up for what I discarded and it turned out great.

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thanks for the comment, Jan! I agree that straining the butter probably made the dough too dry, but I’m so glad you were able to save it!

  9. […] Recipe and Photo credit to […]

  10. Cher, that was a stop sign. “I totally paused!”

    “As if!”

    You just won my gingham striped heart.

    PS I am late holiday bloomer too. “But look, this one’s late. I’ll bet that when it blooms, it’ll be the most beautiful of all.” That’s right I’m pullin out my Disney guns.

  11. Susan says:

    I’m thinking St Patricks day, I already have the shamrock cookie cutter! Mostly I just want to try the recipe. Lately I’ve been loving brown butter anything. Love the nutty flavor and yummy smell

    • Elizabeth says:

      Awesome! I fully support that plan, and I agree–brown butter is the best! I’d love to hear what you think if you give them a try!

  12. Patty says:

    These cookies are beautiful! I love scalloped edge heart cookie cutters. Can you tell me where you purchased it? Thanks so much!!! Patty

    • Elizabeth says:

      Thank you, Patty! I believe I bought them at Michaels in a set of 4 cookie cutters. They might be Wiltons brand but they don’t have any markings on them at this point. Good luck tracking some down!

  13. smita says:

    Hi if brown butter isn’t available is there a substitute? Something that could work well will the fondant and the cookie reipe.

    thanks Smita

    • Elizabeth says:

      Hi Smita, brown butter is just butter that you boil until brown, so if you have any butter available at all, you should be able to make this recipe! If not, you can use any roll-out sugar cookie recipe of your choice and decorate the cookies with the fondant as shown.

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