Valentine Patch-Work Cookies

shape swap #2Can I just say how much fun these cookies are to make! Making these cookies looked like a baking game of musical chairs around the kitchen island. After the large heart cookie shapes were cut and chilled, the real fun began. The girls and I took out the chilled cookie sheets and began using mini heart cookie cutters to cut, sand with sugar, then swap for the center of a contrasting cookie. We worked fast to ensure the dough would stay firm and perfectly fit the previously cut cookie.

I am always looking for new ways to make sugar cookies. While making stained glass cookies this week the idea came to me to create the same look with different colored dough instead of hard candy. All sugar cookies are not the same. Some sugar cookies are soft and cakey, pairing perfectly with American buttercream. Other sugar cookies are buttery and dense taking on more of a shortbread flavor. I think it is a good idea to have several sugar cookie recipes in your arsenal depending on the project you are working on. I am not going to lie…our most requested recipe is our sour cream sugar cookie. This cookie is unbelievably soft but isn’t my dough of choice for intricate cookie cutters or detailed frosting work. 

For this cookie, I knew I wanted to create a patchwork of shapes. The dough would need to be sturdy enough to be cut, lifted, and patched into a completely different cookie. I started with a butter cookie base. I eliminated all leavening agents as I didn’t want the cookie to puff or swell while baking. Next, and most important I added cornstarch. Can I just say that in cookies cornstarch is a magical white powder that is pure witchcraft! Wheat flour has proteins that form gluten strands. While gluten gives great structure to bread it doesn’t always produce the perfect soft texture and tender crumble for a cookie. The addition of corn starch inhibits this structure and softens the cookie. I played with the amount of cornstarch until I found an amount that created a soft cookie and held a perfectly sharp edge.

I don’t know if I had more fun creating my own cookies or watching the combinations my girls would come up with. Kennedy is detail-oriented needing every edge perfectly aligned, while Maddie is the Picasso of sanding sugar, dusting every cookie with bright colors. Isn’t it funny how they get older and bigger, but their little personalities stay the same. Creating recipes and playing with my girls…I can’t imagine a better day!!!

Ingredients:shape swap ingredients

1 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup corn starch

2 1/2 cups flour

Sanding sugars (optional for decoration)


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer beat the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat until well mixed.
  3. In a separate bowl sift or whisk together remaining dry ingredients.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.
  5. Beat on medium speed just until well incorporated. Do not overwork the dough.
  6. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours.
  7. On a lightly floured work surface roll dough into 1/3 inch thick slab.
  8. Cut large cookie shapes and place them on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  9. Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator and chill at least 10 minutes.
  10. Take the cookie sheet out of the refrigerator and use smaller cookie cutters to cut smaller heart shapes from the inside of the larger cookies.
  11. At this point, you can sprinkle sanding sugars on either shape before re-positioning the inner shape.
  12. Swap the heart shape you just cut with an identical cut heart shape from a cookie in a contrasting dough color.
  13. Repeat this process of swapping shapes and colors until all larger cookies on cookie sheets have been patched with another color or two.
  14. Place cookie sheets back in the refrigerator until ready to bake.
  15. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.
  16. Cool completely before removing from the cookie sheet.


  • I use no-taste red food coloring, as it takes a large amount of red food coloring to get a vibrant dough. This amount of food coloring can leave the dough with a bitter taste if regular red food coloring is used.
  • If your dough becomes too soft to swap out and patch in the contrasting shapes, simply place the cookie sheet back in the refrigerator for another 5-10 minutes and then continue the process.
  • I really like to accent the cookies with sanding sugars as I do not frost these cookies. You can also use glitter or luster dust if you prefer.
  • Keep dough color vibrant by rolling dough in between two layers of parchment. This avoids flour discoloration while rolling and cutting cookies.

shape swap #1

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