These Brown Butter Heart Cookies are a gourmet twist on sugar cookies! They have a deep, rich, caramelized taste, and are decorated with beautifully painted fondant designs.
Happy Valentine’s Day! I like you guys. I made you cookies. And not just any cookies…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.
Just 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.
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.
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 edible food spray from Michael’s. There’s a great tutorial of the process on the Sweet Sugar Belle blog if you’re interested in recreating the look.
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:
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!
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
For the cookies:
- 6 oz unsalted butter (3/4 cup)
- 9.5 oz all-purpose flour (2 cups + 2 tbsp)
- 2 tbsp corn starch
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3.75 oz brown sugar (1/2 cup)
- 3.5 oz granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the marshmallow fondant:
- 6 oz miniature marshmallows (about 3 cups)
- 12 oz powdered sugar (3 cups)
- 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 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. If desired, spray it with ColorMist spray in an ombre or checkerboard pattern.
Let the food coloring dry before storing. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.