Marbled Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Sugar cookies that are softly sweet but not overly so, made from an easy-to-work-with dough that holds shape once baked. Dipped in melted swirled chocolates to produce a beautiful marble effect. If you are like me and royal icing and piping tips are not your thing, but snappy delicious chocolate is, these are a holiday must-bake.

 

 

I had no plans to develop this recipe, it came about as a result of some typical holiday baking. I wanted to make some sugar cookies to decorate and send to family and friends but was finding that my usual shortbread recipe (the one I use as a base for my cider pecan shortbreads) was the kind that spread just enough to warp the cute Christmas shapes. Friends and family wouldn’t have cared, but my job as a food photographer has me always thinking about ‘gram ready cookies =/

So I got to work testing and came up with a dough that was easy to work with and produced a delightful cookie. And then, instead of decorating them – which I knew from experience (or lack thereof, lol) wouldn’t be very cute, I decided to dip them in a some swirled chocolates thinking I could get something like  these millionaire bars

The chocolate had less of a swirled effect and more a marbled, and they turned out so pretty! Then, I got distracted by other things and left them in a tin and forgot about them. Two days later I went to have one and I was so pleasantly surprised by how delicious they were. They looked and tasted like they could have been the good quality store-bought kind, but better, and I knew, this is a must share. 

 

 

Sugar cookies that hold shape and don’t spread 

 

To get this, first we need a good balance of butter/egg/sugar/flour which is usually done with a 1:1:1:3 ratio. A lot of linzer cookies follow this balance and it’s what we are mostly following here. But I took a few more steps to getting to this recipe, let’s talk about them: 

Powdered sugar

Powdered (or icing or confectioner’s) sugar is made by very finely grinding sugar into a powder. Sometimes you’ll see it called 10x which refers to how many times It has been processed. To the now very finely ground sugar, cornstarch is added to prevent caking (sugar granules binding together). 

I use powdered sugar in this recipe for two reasons: the added starch makes the dough super easy to handle (some recipes will call for cornstarch in the recipe to get this effect) and this is important because a dough that’s easy to handle and roll means one that you won’t be adding a lot of flour to, which prevents a dry cookie. 

The other reason I use powdered is because the sugar is so finely ground that when we beat it together we won’t incorporate as much air into the dough which will lead to a dense, crumbly cookie – exactly what we wanted in a shape cookie! 

Freezing the dough

Post cutting out our shapes, we’re going to chuck our cookie sheets into the freezer so that the butter really firms up and takes longer to melt in the oven. That way the cookie holds shape longer. 

 

 

 

Tempering chocolate and the marbled chocolate topping 

To get that perfect chocolate topping that isn’t easily melted and doesn’t have white spots on it we need to temper it. To get the marble effect we’ll use 2-3 different chocolates, however each of these melts differently so we’ll handle each according to it’s ‘temperament’ (I did a pun!). 

A basic way to think about this is that the more cocoa solids a chocolate has in it, the longer it takes to melt. Which means that white chocolate will be the quickest to melt, dark will take the longest. Milk & blond chocolate will fall somewhere in between. 

The best way to melt chocolate carefully is to do it slowly, to stir it often and to ‘seed’ it by setting some of the chocolate aside and adding it to the chocolate after it’s mostly melted, then stirring it until it fully melts. 

Here’s the key steps: 

  1. To make it easy on yourself, use chocolate chips here instead of chopped chocolate, set aside ¼ of the amount you want to add afterwards. This is your “seed”. 
  2. Melt the chocolate in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Check it and stir. 
  3. Once the chocolate is half melted, stir it until it fully melts. 
  4. Add the ‘seed’ chocolate you’ve set aside and stir until it’s smooth. If you used big chunks, your ‘seed’ might not fully melt, you can set it aside for use later.

 

How to get the marbled chocolate effect 

Once the chocolates have melted you’ll pour them into a shallow container, a pasta bowl or a quarter sheet pan work great here. I pour my dark chocolate first and then alternate adding the milk and white chocolate (for these I also used some dulcey feves, that’s the golden one you see). Then take a butter knife or an offset spatula and swirl it just barely. 

Take the cookies and dip them into the chocolate face down, very very gently jiggling them to ensure chocolate covers them. When you lift, hold it at a 45 degree angle for a second or two to let the chocolate slide down the cookie. Set on a sheet or parchment paper to capture any chocolate bits (and so the cookies won’t stick to the countertop). 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients for marbled chocolate sugar cookies 

Salted butter: In a really basic cookie that’s not going to have a lot of flavor besides vanilla, I’ll opt for salted butter which brings out the vanilla flavor more and adds a nice balance. If you don’t have it, you can add another ¼ teaspoon salt to the dough. 

Powdered sugar: I talk about this extensively in the above section but suffice to say, no substitutes! 

Flour: All-purpose flour, a medium protein content. KAF or Gold Medal would be fine here. Don’t use cake flour (there’s added cornstarch in there and it’s way too fine) and don’t use bread (the cookie will be tough and dry). 

Egg: Just one large egg, should weigh about 2 oz. 

Salt: If you’ve used salted butter we only need a bit of fine sea salt here. If you haven’t you’ll rase it to ½ teaspoon. 

Vanilla: I use pure vanilla extract in mine but you can also scrape a vanilla bean or use some vanilla paste. For a bean, I’d scrape up a long one and for the paste I’d go up another teaspoon because the flavor is less intense than pure extract. 

Flavorings: Freshly grated nutmeg would make these smell like christmas! Orange zest too would be lovely here. Whatever flavor you decide to add to these bear in mind the topping. If you are sticking with my marbled chocolate version, you’ll want something that tastes good with all the chocolates. 

Chocolate: I used a mix of four chocolates here to get as much variety as I could in terms of color (and general purdiness): dark chocolate (72%), milk chocolate, white chocolate and some valrhona dulcey feves which is the flavor of caramelized white chocolate. I wouldn’t use my homemade cwc here because the caramelizing process takes it so far out of temper that when it dries on these cookies it would have those white spots. 

 

Storing the cookies and sending them 

Once the chocolate is firm and dry (will take less than half an hour if you’ve tempered it right) these should be kept in an airtight container. 

These store remarkably well and taste good days later. They may even improve with time! Four days after making them mine tasted great. Since they are pretty stiff cookies I’d say they’d also be great ones to add to a cookie box.

 

5 from 5 reviews

Marbled Chocolate Sugar Cookies

December 18, 2020
: 20, depending on your cookie cutter
: Easy

Sugar cookies from an easy-to-roll and cut dough topped with three different chocolates for a marbled effect.

By:

Ingredients
  • Sugar Cookies
  • 1 cup salted butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, sprinkled in, not packed
  • Optional: freshly grated nutmeg or zest of an orange
  • Marbled chocolate topping
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips or caramelized white chocolate feves
Directions
  • Step 1 Take the butter out of the fridge to soften for 10-15 minutes, we want it just a bit soft but still quite firm.
  • Step 2 In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the powdered sugar (sifted), butter, sugar and sea salt. With the paddle attachment, beat the mixture for at least 5 minutes, until it’s well combined. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for at least 3 minutes to combine. The mixture will look clumpy and wet.
  • Step 3 Place a sieve over the bowl and sift in the flour. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and beat on medium low until the dough comes together. Use your hands and gather the dough into a flat disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and set in the fridge for an hour or so until the dough is firm but not too stiff to roll out. If you’ve left it for a few hours or overnight, let it soften on the counter until it’s workable
  • Step 4 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1cm thick and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Set the shapes on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Don’t crowd them but also don’t worry about leaving too much space, they won’t spread. Set the tray in the freezer and preheat the oven to 350 F.
  • Step 5 Bake for 10 minutes until they are just set, don’t wait for the edges or the bottoms to turn golden or they will overbake and be tough.
  • Step 6 When the cookies are completely cool, begin tempering the chocolate:
  • Step 7 Set the chocolate into three separate heat-proof bowls. Remove about ¼ of the chocolate from each bowl and set aside, this is your ‘seed’.
  • Step 8 Microwave the bowls of chocolate for 30 seconds and check them, if none have begun melting then do another 30 seconds. Stir the chocolate and return to the microwave for another 30 seconds. At this point the milk and white chocolate should be somewhat melted but the dark chocolate will still be firm.
  • Step 9 As needed, microwave for another 20 seconds. Stop once the chocolate is half melted and stir, stir stir. The heat from the melted chocolate will melt the rest. Add the “seed” you set aside to the bowl and stir again until you have a smooth chocolate. The dark chocolate will take the longest to melt and it’s likely that those ‘seeds’ won’t melt fully (especially if they are large).
  • Step 10 Alternate pouring the chocolates into a quarter sheet pan or a pasta bowl (something small-ish and shallow) and gently swirl them with a tip of a butter knife. Dip the cookies face down into the chocolate and hold them upright for a few seconds to let the remaining chocolate slide off. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and allow to set.
  • Step 11 Store in an airtight container.



13 thoughts on “Marbled Chocolate Sugar Cookies”

  • The tips and instructions were the best! I’m not sure why I didn’t think to put a towel over my bowl when adding flour to my dough. It was a life saver and I plan to use it all the time. Oh yea and the cookies were great thanks to the tips related to freezing before baking and the perfect coloring to take the cookies out the oven. My sugar cookies have always baked too long, not this time. Thanks Sam!

  • Turned out beautiful! This was an awesome recipe for cut out cookies, since they maintained their shape perfectly while baking. So much fun making these!! Gave them out for the holidays and got many compliments.

  • Made these today and they’re delicious + gorgeous! I’m not sure what I did but the dark chocolate hardened in the pan rather quickly so the first 8 cookies are much prettier than the rest. Could this be because I just wasn’t dipping fast enough, or something to do with how I tempered the chocolate? Would definitely make again!

  • These look beautiful!

    How hard would you say the execution is on these as far as getting beautiful, multicolored swirls? I’m trying to decide whether I dare make these for a cookie exchange or play it safe.

    Thanks! I love your monster cookie and egg yolk ccc recipes 🙂

    • Hi Keli! The swirls are pretty easy – you just sort of swirl a few different chocolates together and then dip the cookies in face down. What’s a bit tricky is getting the chocolate correctly tempered, each chocolate will melt differently. I’ve also done this with just white an dark (no milk) and you still get a really pretty effect.

  • Wow. I am so stoked to make these! 🤞. Could you please clarify this instruction for me? “ Cover the bowl with a tea towel and beat on medium low”. Is this so the flour doesn’t fly out? Also, I thought I saw a photo where you had pink in the glaze? Is that just a drop or two of food coloring in the white chocolate? Thank you!

    • Hi Jessica!
      Yes – just so flour or powdered sugar doesn’t fly out and make a mess. If yours doesn’t do this don’t worry about it (mine does, alot ha!)
      For the pink that was either ruby chocolate from Chocolove or strawberry inspiration feves from valrhona (I’ve used both)

  • I made the Robin’s Egg version from Sam’s IG post and they were amazing! The cookie is perfectly tender and not too sweet. The buttercream on top was absolutely delightful. Almost like an upgraded soft oreo!

  • The marbled glaze on these is gorgeous. Just checking-the ingredients list 1/4 cup granulated sugar but your instructions say brown sugar. Just wanted to clarify which type of sugar you used besides the powdered sugar. Always looking for a good cutout cookie recipe. Thanks!

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