Fluffy dough from the creaming method

Why the Creaming Method is Essential for Cookies

Ever wonder why cookie recipes require room temperature butter?

Pastry & Baking Arts Chef-Instructor Kathryn Gordon demonstrates the creaming method for cookies, a fundamental technique that can also be used for cakes and tart dough, using a recipe for pecan sablés from her second book "Les Petits Sweets."

When creaming sugar and butter by hand, temperature and timing are key when emulsifying, or mixing together, the fats and the water in butter and eggs. Chef Kathryn demonstrates how to make creamed butter and sugar by hand and turn a fluffy batter into perfect cookie dough, which can be frozen for up to two months to slice and bake when desired.


Pecan Sablé Cookies with Cinnamon and Orange

Recipe adapted from "Les Petits Sweets," co-authored with Anne E. McBride.


  • 113 grams unsalted high-quality butter (I used cultured butter), room temperature
  • 60 grams confectioners’ sugar (10X)
  • 1/4 orange (2 grams), finely grated zest
  • 1 large egg yolk (18 grams), room temperature, whisked
  • 33 grams pecans, very finely chopped (to resemble almond flour texture)
  • 100 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 gram ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 grams baking powder
  • 0.5 grams fine salt
  • 50 grams pearl sugar
  • 1 gram fleur de sel


  1. In KitchenAid stand mixer, cream butter, confectioners’ sugar and orange zest with paddle attachment until fluffy. Slowly trickle in the egg yolk and mix until fluffy, stopping and scraping with a spatula as required. Add the pecans, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and fine salt.
  2. Roll the dough into a log on parchment paper, using the pearl sugar to help you form a 2-inch diameter log. Wrap up and freeze for 20 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes, until firm (or freeze up to 2 months).
  3. Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice the log into 1/3-inch (1 cm) slices and place on parchment paper (using 2-inch wide rings if desired). Bake 8-10 minutes.

Watch more pastry demos on YouTube @iceculinary, and explore studying with Chef Kathryn in Pastry & Baking Arts.

Submitted by Karen Swaine on December 8, 2020 6:57pm

I'm rather annoyed by all these recipes calling for a stand mixer. Cookies were around long before there were stand mixers. I'm never going to buy one and I'd like to know the suggested method for those of us without one. Small electric hand held beater? Wooden spoon?

Submitted by aday on January 29, 2021 2:41pm

A stand mixer is helpful if the batch is a big size, but certainly for 1 to 2-egg-size mixes, by hand with a spoon or with a handheld mixer works well.

It is more critically important to bring your ingredients to room temperature if mixing completely by hand, or it will be very difficult to incorporate the egg into the butter. If your butter and eggs are room temperature, it is easy to cream them by hand in a bowl. A wooden spoon is probably the easiest to get the butter soft and fluffy with the sugar. If you whisk your egg and add it in slowly, that works fine, but if it starts to look wet or clumpy (a broken emulsion), then beat the mixture a bit longer before adding more egg to allow it to incorporate better.

A handheld mixer also works fine if that's what you have. Some people might not like vigorously mixing with a wooden spoon and would therefore prefer a handheld mixer.

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