Marble Heart Cookies


It’s a delight and an honour to be inspired by other people’s recipes — sure, I’m good at invention, but my repertoire and palate would be limited and repetitious and probably deeply cringe without the welcome expertise and experiences of others. I love reading cookbooks as if they were novels and feeling my mind expand as much as I love taking screenshots of food styling and recipes, immediately forgetting them, and then finding them again while searching my folders for some long-lost meme and being inspired anew. That being said, my ability to conjure up recipes out of thin air and test them is like one of those theories of economics effects; it tends to correlate with experiencing relative stability in my personal life, with the data skewed by the occasional outlier flash of genius, or near-enough. At the moment I am, needless to say, leaning more on my own existing recipes or the wealth of knowledge from other people, and I am grateful for it! (That being said, and more important than any recipe: by sheer geographical luck my family and I avoided the devastating brunt of the recent floods and Cyclone Gabrielle; if you were also fortunately out of harm’s way and want to help, here is a round-up of donation sites, including links to support iwi relief funds.)


This Marble Heart Cookie recipe is, like several of the cookies I’ve shared on here recently, adapted from a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero; their creations are consistently reliable when I don’t have the time or space to come up with my own base cookie formula, moreover, their cookies have become repeatedly baked and loved in my kitchen. And the visual inspiration — a kind of calico cat tricolour marbling effect — was inspired by these Lanibakes strawberry lime cookies, and it was this imagery that drove the existence of these cookies. The neapolitan-ish pink/brown/funfetti effect was borne simply because I was using the random things I had in my pantry: cocoa powder, dehydrated plum powder, hundreds and thousands sprinkles, if I’d had something a little dehydrated-something-else these might have taken off in a different direction. As it happens the muted richness and sour zing of plum tastes wonderful undulating against the clouds of vanilla and chocolate.


I don’t expect you to have the exact same ingredients as me in your pantry: you could leave out the sprinkles to no ill effect (although I staunchly, yet perhaps baselessly, maintain that their presence adds a certain something); you could use dehydrated raspberry or strawberry powder or just add pink colouring and flavouring to the dough; you could also abandon the marble aspect, choose one flavour, and have regular cut-out cookies. Sometimes when I approach a recipe from a place of visual aspiration first I am punished for my vanity by having the recipe turn out terribly; clearly some higher force approved of this aesthetic prioritising because these cookies turned out perfectly and exactly as I pictured them in the ever-revolving Mad Men Kodak carousel in my mind; the flavours were harmonious, the colours merged like friendly patches in a handmade quilt, like a topographical map from a cartoon land, like the most delicious and low-stakes of Rorschach tests.


They’re delicious on their own, with the bloom of vanilla permeating throughout each heart, but these cookies also have a distinct sugary chewiness that I imagine would lend itself well to being sandwiched around ice cream, should you have the energy for that. Indeed, I considered calling them Chewy Marble Hearts since this textural aspect seems to be the defining feature of the finished cookie but left it out literally only because it sullied the shoegaze-album-title elegance of the name, and for no other sensible reason. And who could be sensible around cookies this pretty?


Marble Heart Cookies

Bewitchingly pretty and chewy cookies with splashes of colour and flavour unique to every heart (or whatever shape you like!) that you slice out. Recipe adapted from the chocolate cut-out cookies in Vegan Cookies by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero, and inspired by the Lanibakes Strawberry Lime Cookies.

  • 190g (3/4 cup) sugar
  • 1/4 cup rice bran oil, or similar plain oil
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 180g (1 and 1/2 cups) flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour (or cornstarch in the US)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon freeze-dried plum powder (or raspberry or strawberry powder)
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon 100s and 1000s/rainbow sprinkles

1: Using a wooden spoon, briskly mix the 190g sugar, 1/4 cup each of oil and milk, two teaspoons of vanilla and half teaspoon of salt together in a medium-sized bowl. Stir in the 180g flour, the tablespoon of cornflour, and the half teaspoon of baking powder till it forms a thick dough, and then divide the mixture into three fairly even portions (no need to stop and weigh them) leaving one portion in the mixing bowl and placing the others into two further bowls.

2: Stir the tablespoon of plum powder into one portion of cookie dough; the tablespoon of cocoa into the next portion of cookie dough, and fold the teaspoon of sprinkles into the remaining portion. Refrigerate the three bowls of cookie dough for half an hour, though longer is fine.

3: When the half-hour rest time is almost up, set your oven to 180C/350F, line a cookie tray/sheet with baking paper, and lay a second piece of baking paper on the bench or whatever work surface you’re using for rolling out the dough. I like to have another piece of baking paper between the dough and the rolling pin, to ensure the dough doesn’t stick to anything. Using your hands, form small balls — about a heaped teaspoon, or the size of a walnut — of the three lots of dough, and place them close to each other on the sheet of paper on your worktop, alternating the colours (and see the photo above for reference). Place the aforementioned third sheet of baking paper on top of the balls of dough and roll them out so they merge into one even layer, about 3-4 mm thick. Now, use a heart cutter to cut shapes out of the dough, turning the cutter upside-down and then back the right way again to maximise the space (as above in the photo, although I could’ve been more careful!)

4: Use a lifter/flipper to carefully shift the cookies onto the paper-lined baking tray and bake them for seven minutes (which sounds preposterously short but it’s all they need!) then transfer them to a cooling rack after they’ve sat on the tray for a couple of minutes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue to cut hearts out and bake as above — the marbling effect will be less patchwork-y on the second roll-out, and will become continuously mottled as you keep re-rolling, so cut your hearts out as assiduously as you can on the first round.

Store the cookies in an airtight container once cool.

Makes around 26 cookies, depending on the size of your cutter and so on (the one I used is about 2.3 inches.)


  • If you don’t have access to freeze-dried berry powder, carefully tint one of the portions of dough with pink food colouring and add a little flavoured essence of your choice (imitation raspberry is my 100% favourite) bearing in mind that adding too much liquid may affect the texture of the dough. You could also choose just one of these add-ins and have solely chocolate, vanilla, or pink cut-out cookies.
  • I don’t currently have a lot of bench space, so my solution was to roll out the cookie dough on the baking tray, then slide that sheet of baking paper with the cookie dough on it onto an upturned roasting dish, then place another sheet of baking paper on the now-empty baking tray, and then ferry the dough hearts from the upturned roasting dish to the awaiting baking tray. It’s a little fiddly but it works.
  • A double batch would be easy enough to make, as this only produces a fairly small quantity of dough; however to maintain as much of the patchwork marbling effect as possible, only roll out half the dough at a time.


music lately:

Hypnotized by Spacemen 3, imagine a distortion pedal just ran a half-marathon and is now lying on its back inhaling and exhaling deeply with a tremendous sense of achievement; that is what this song sounds like.

Jive Talk by The UMC’s, immeasurably jaunty, fantastically fantastic, that string-section sample from The Flock feels tailor-made for this purpose.

Revenge by Nomeansno, the chorus is so good I involuntarily started laughing when I first heard it.

The legendary Chita Rivera recently turned 90; may she enjoy many more birthdays and may we enjoy her superlative and gasp-worthy choreo and gasp-free breath control as she performs a medley of America from West Side Story and All That Jazz from Chicago (both songs from roles she originated on Broadway) in 1982 at the not-immoderate age of 49.

PS: If you like my writing and wish to support me directly, there’s no better way than by stepping behind the claret velvet VIP curtain of my Patreon. Recipes, reviews, poetry, updates, secrets, stories, all yours every month. There’s no better time than right now — your support helps me to make all these blog posts!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s