When creaming sugar by hand it's a slightly more difficult process (just consider it your arm workout for the day), but you still need to achieve the same results. When using a mixer, one can usually tell their butter is ready to go when it turns lighter in color and is suddenly fluffy. When doing it by hand, you're doing good if you can just get the two mixed together.
So how do you get super star results? Simple. With the back of a fork. But slicing off small ribbons of your butter and mixing them with your sugar before you start really working the two together, you'll allow more air and sugar between the bits of butter and it requires less arm cranking around the bowl to achieve the same results.
How do you know you're done? When you pull your sugar and butter mixture with a fork and you don't see any small butter streaks left (like in the photo above). Remember, butter streaks mean pooling, burning and cookies that are less than uniform.
Do you make your cookies by hand? What's your trick to creaming the butter with the least amount of effort possible? Let us know below!
(Image: Sarah Rae Trover)