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Cookie Dough Woes

lattelover Nov 13, 2009 04:40 AM

I made some cookie dough (butter, sugar, cream cheese, flour and vanilla) to roll out for holiday cut-out cookies. The dough is much too soft and the test cookie spread all over ruining the design. If I beat in more flour I am concerned I will make the cookies tough. Any other solutions? The dough is chilling in my freezer now. I'm not chillin'!.

  1. c
    Cachetes Nov 13, 2009 04:49 AM

    My first thought was to refrigerate it overnight, which is what I always do. I don't know if the freezer is going to end up freezing the outer layers before the inner area gets sufficiently cool

    2 Replies
    1. re: Cachetes
      visciole Nov 13, 2009 04:55 AM

      Is this recipe intended for rolling? Just by looking at it I'm guessing the problem is the cream cheese. If chilling (and I would agree -- fridge, not freezer) doesn't work, I'd bake them normally and try another recipe for rolling. Hope it turns out OK!

      1. re: visciole
        gansu girl Nov 13, 2009 05:55 AM

        My go-to rolled cookie recipe has some cream cheese too, and it does roll fine - but my question to the OP is - did you chill the dough before you rolled? And if you did, for how long? I do agree the freezer is overkill - you'll have to let the dough soften up a bit before you roll anyway - so fridge is just as good.


    2. ttoommyy Nov 13, 2009 05:48 AM

      The BEST roll-out cookie dough recipe I've ever found and the one I use all the time is the Rich Rolled Sugar Cookie recipe from the Joy of Cooking. These cookies bake up perfectly, and hold their shape every time. Hope this helps.

      1. Chemicalkinetics Nov 13, 2009 06:04 AM


        I am a big cookie fan. There are various solutions to cookies which spread too much. One is adding more flour as you said. Two is cut down the butter/cream cheese portion which thin the texture. I love cream cheese cookie. Third is to bake at a higher temperature. By baking at a much higher temperature, the idea is to solidify the cookies before they have a chance to spread out. This is a minor solution compared to the other two, but it is one which does not require recipe alternation. Of course, a dark cookie sheet also has the similar effect compared to a shiny cookie sheet.

        Here is a walnut cream cheese cookie recipe which I love. I have baked this recipe for more than 4 times and never have they spread. (Ok, all cookies spread a little, so I mean they don't spread a lot) The texture is similar to shortbread cookies.

        Please take a quick look at the ingredients and see if the proportionality of the recipe is very different from yours:


        1 Reply
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          bushwickgirl Nov 13, 2009 08:36 AM

          The reason your cookie recipe doesn't spread is three-fold: no eggs, no leavening agents and they are baked from a chilled state.
          Without having seen the OP's recipe, it's hard to know what the issue is. Adding more flour is not the answer, besides, how much flour do you add to make a dough that holds it's shape, without throwing the recipe out of whack? Too much flour will make a dry and tough cookie (no pun intended). Maybe the recipe, as mentioned above, is not for rolling. Baking them at a higher temp will result in burned cookies. It might be that the dough is too soft to hold a design in the first place. Maybe the OP mis-measured, it happens. There's lots of variables here and we really need to see the recipe.

        2. Sooeygun Nov 13, 2009 06:31 AM

          If chilling does not work, add some more flour.

          I often add flour to cookie dough after doing on pan as a test. Never had it make my cookies tough. I don't consider a cookie dough ready, until I have made one panful to see if the dough is the right texture.

          1. Channa Nov 13, 2009 08:38 AM

            How did you measure the flour? Some recipes are based on dip-and-sweep, and if you used the spoon-into-the-cup method, then you would certainly have used too little flour. Did you (unthinkingly) make substitutions? Low-fat cream cheese instead of full-fat? Margarine rather than butter? Cake flour or bleached flour where unbleached was called for? Those all make a difference.

            1. chowser Nov 13, 2009 08:59 AM

              For the dough you have, I'd add more flour in, mixing as little as possible and then refrigerate for at least a few hours. It might end up a little tougher. If you don't have your heart set on rolling it out, I'd also consider rolling it in a log in plastic wrap and freeze. Bake from frozen in a higher temperature for about 5 minutes and then turning it down. You want to cook the outside, before it spreads, and then cook the inside slowly.

              4 Replies
              1. re: chowser
                lattelover Nov 13, 2009 10:08 AM

                Thanks for all your insights. Here is the recipe:

                1/2 lb. butter
                2 c sugar
                8 oz. cream cheese
                1/2 t. vanilla
                1 c. flour
                1/2 c walnuts

                I used the dip and sweep method for the flour. I made no substitutions. I chilled the dough in the fridge for 3 hrs before rolling. I just put it into the freezer after making a test cookie because I didn't know when I would get to it next.

                I think I may have used a recipe not suitable for rolling. Since I really want to make cut out cookies I am reluctant to make slices out of it. So I may just add some flour and wee what happens. I will follow your suggestions for chilling and baking. Next batch I will definitely try the Joy of Cooking recipe. Thanks all.

                1. re: lattelover
                  chowser Nov 13, 2009 10:26 AM

                  Proportionally, there is too much butter and fat to flour to be a solid roll out cookie. I'd find a roll cookie recipe. I've only used ones with eggs, too.

                  1. re: chowser
                    Chemicalkinetics Nov 13, 2009 10:52 AM


                    Agree. It has too much fat to flour ratio. It looks like shortbread recipe because of the high fat and sugar and lack of egg content. However, the fat-to-flour ratio is too high for shortbread.

                  2. re: lattelover
                    bushwickgirl Nov 13, 2009 10:54 AM

                    This recipe has a very high fat to flour ratio, it will give you (and I guess it did) a very soft dough, as chowser wrote. Not something you can roll. It's written as 16 oz of fat to 5 oz of flour, very soft and rich and no leavening. No wonder it spread. Maybe the recipe is not correct. I say that, with all due respect to you, because I don't know where the recipe came from. You can up the flour by at least two more cups, so you have a 1:1 fat to flour ratio. Even that will give you a short, rich dough, but definitely stiffer. In comparison, the recipe I have for a cream cheese lemon cookie calls for 3 cups flour to 4 oz butter and 3 oz cream cheese. It's stiff enough to pipe out. That's quite a difference.
                    Anyway, I hope you get to use this dough and find something more suitable for rolling. Happy baking!

                2. m
                  maxie Nov 13, 2009 10:33 AM

                  Chill the dough before rolling. Cut out the shapes. Chill the cut outs before baking. You can even freeze the cut outs.and bake them straight from the freezer. The colder the dough, the better it will hold its shape in the oven.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: maxie
                    lattelover Nov 13, 2009 03:41 PM

                    OK. I beat in some flour - maybe a cup or more (I did it by eye). I chilled it for 3 hours before cutting out. The dough spread a little but held shape fairly well. The resulting cookies were a little chewy but acceptable. I will call them artisanal and decorate the heck out of them. The flavor is really quite good.

                    I thought the recipe was a little light on flour but I always make a recipe"as is" the first time and adjust later. Thanks to all your tips for a good save.

                    1. re: lattelover
                      Chemicalkinetics Nov 13, 2009 03:44 PM


                      And thank you for your feedback. It is nice to know your cookies turn out fine, although I have to say your recipe looks more like a shortbread recipe and therefore it should be crunchy and not chewy. Hey, as long as they taste good, right?

                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                        lattelover Nov 13, 2009 04:07 PM

                        I thought they would be crunchier too. I may try baking them a little longer. But as Julia said - nobody knows what happens in the kitchen.

                      2. re: lattelover
                        Channa Nov 14, 2009 07:49 AM

                        I'm glad you were able to overcome the problem! Here's a recipe from Kraft that's similar to yours. I haven't tried it, but I'd trust Kraft to know about cream cheese. :-)


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