Published November 1, 2003.
Rolling out cookie dough is a sticky business. Most recipes add excess flour, and the resulting cookies are tough. Could we make tender, crispy cookies that roll out easily?
Every year when we bake holiday cookies we are reminded why we only do so once a year. The dough clings to the rolling pin, it rips and tears as it is rolled out, and the tactic of moving the dough in and out of the refrigerator to make it easier to work with turns a simple, one-hour process into a half-day project.
A simple recipe that would yield a forgiving, workable dough, producing cookies that would be sturdy enough to decorate yet tender enough to be worth eating.
Use enough butter to stay true to the nature of a butter cookie but not so much that the dough becomes greasy (shortening adds no flavor to cookies and is not an option). All-purpose flour has enough gluten to provide structure, while superfine sugar provides a fine, even crumb and a compact, crisp cookie—definitely positive attributes. Cream cheese—a surprise ingredient—gives the cookies flavor and richness without altering their texture. For a dough that's incredibly easy to handle, use the "reverse" creaming method: incorporate slightly softened—not melted—butter into the flour and sugar. (Standard creaming involves whipping butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy, then adding eggs and dry ingredients.)list of recipes