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When I make a particular cookie, the rolling and shaping steps are very frustrating because the dough gets very soft and tends to fall apart when I'm working with it. Chilling the dough makes it more workable, but I only have a short time to shape the dough before needing to chill it for another half hour.

Here is the recipe:

  • ½ cup (110 gr) butter, softened
  • 1 cup (208 gr) shortening
  • 1 cup (225 gr) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 12.5 oz (1,562 gr) flour
  • 1 tsp (5 gr) baking powder
  • ¼ tsp (1.4 gr) salt
  • 3 dozen Andes Chocolate mints

Stir together flour, baking soda, salt. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg, then flour mixture to creamed mixture. Divide in half, cover and refrigerate overnight. Roll out dough into two 1/8" thick rectangles; refrigerate when not working. Evenly space mints on one portion of dough, and place other portion of dough on top; cut between mints and press edges down to make individual cookies. Bake at 400° F (200° C) until brown at edges, about 12 - 14 minutes.

I can get the dough rolled out OK; the problem is in the cookie shaping (mint-adding and cutting) phase. Since the dough is flattened out, it warms up very quickly, and I'm constantly fighting the softness and stickiness of the dough.

How can I increase the workability (either the stiffness or the amount of time I have to shape it) of this cookie dough? I would prefer to change ingredients - rather than my process for cooling and working the dough - for the sake of simplicity.

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I know you said that you didn't want to change the process -- but if you have space in your fridge or freezer, place a metal sheet pan in there ... then if the dough gets too warm, you can pull it out and place it on top to help cool things back down. –  Joe Dec 17 '12 at 16:55
    
You could also divide it into 4 bits, so that each portion spends less time out of the fridge as you work it. –  Joe Dec 17 '12 at 16:56
    
The kitchen was pretty chilly since I was baking last night with the windows open (in Seattle, WA, USA). I've chilled the dough on a sheet pan for half an hour at a time, and still I don't get enough working time. So I feel I've already done everything to my workflow / procedure that's going to get me anywhere. –  KatieK Dec 17 '12 at 17:20
    
Have you considered using something which will let you "package" multiple candies at once? I was thinking of those ravioli makers. Never used them myself, but maybe they can help you make all cookies at once (keep the second rolled sheet in the fridge while filling the first with candies). amazon.de/Ravioliform-Chef-mit-Teigrolle-Ravioli/dp/B002SBK9EG/… –  rumtscho Dec 19 '12 at 17:04

3 Answers 3

Sounds an like you may just need more flour. That recipe has more fat per flour than common cookie recipes - for example, the canonical chocolate chip cookie recipe has 10 oz of flour for 1 cup of fat, while yours is only about 8 oz flour per cup of fat. So I'd definitely expect the dough to be on the soft side to begin with, and since the fat softens at it warms up, as you've seen, it just gets worse.

If your kitchen is on the warm side, it's possible that you'll also need to chill in the freezer instead of the fridge, but I'd certainly start with more flour (or less fat).

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I find it easiest to roll out dough by placing it between two sheets of parchment (or wax, in a pinch) paper. You can also try adding flour as you work the dough, although that can result in a drier cookie (although, since your recipe has such a high butter/shortening content, it might not affect them too badly). In the future, you might want to look for a freezable dough board. I have one which uses gel packs you place in the freezer; you can keep them stored there, then remove and place in between the plastic trays when you want to use it. You can find them in cooking supply stores. Hope that helps! :) P.S. (missed the recipe part of your Q) In terms of changing ingredients, my immediate thought is to reduce the amount of shortening. It sounds like you get a very buttery cookie. You can also keep that the same, but increase the flour. You're the best judge of how much you want to do either of those by, since you know what the finished result tastes like...

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Try further halving the dough so you have a smaller amount out of the fridge at one time.

Though you're looking for a way to affect the workability of the dough through altering the recipe, that will also likely affect the texture of the cookie so if you are happy with the cookie, overall, consider this suggestion as a compromise.

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