With the weather turning colder here in Minnesota, I’ve been craving warmer flavors (also, turning on the oven raises the temperature in my little duplex a whole degree, which is nice). One of my go-to recipes for fall has always been molasses sugar cookies.
Though I never did, some of my cousins grew up calling my maternal grandmother Grandma Cookie because of her proclivity for cookie-baking. Though she was quite skilled in all manner of cooking and baking activities, having successfully fed eight sons through their teenage years, she had a soft spot for cookies. She made all different kinds, many of which were specifically tied to certain holidays or times of year.
My grandmother found the recipe for molasses sugar cookies on the cooking channel, which she watched avidly. She liked how the cookies started out as balls of dough and, through the baking process, became flat with crinkles on top. They became one of her signature recipes, and my mom remembers watching that crinkle process happen through the glass doors of the double oven in her house growing up.
Though these cookies are great in their original form, I’ve been wanting for a while to try making cookie cups, so I decided to try transforming the classic molasses sugar cookie into a cookie cup. After doing some research into the various methods for making cookies into cup form, I decided that baking the cookies in a muffin tin and then pressing them into cups immediately after removing them from the oven seemed like it would work best. I followed the instructions on this blog, pretty much, though I didn’t have the fancy tool for smooshing the cups so I used the handle of a whisk, which worked well.
I filled my cookie cups with a coffee tapioca custard such as this one, partly because I had some leftover tapioca I needed to do something with, partly because I liked the idea of coffee and molasses flavors together, and partly because it seemed like another variation on a traditional family recipe. My paternal grandmother would often serve us tapioca pudding with supper when we visited the farm. However, I have to admit that I have never particularly liked tapioca, and I’m not sure it’s the right choice for filling these cookie cups. I did like the coffee variation better than straight tapioca, and everyone who taste-tested the final product agreed that it was a pleasant if rather strange taste experience. I think the main issue was the texture – tapioca is too chewy to go well with the softness of these cookies. I might suggest a creamier regular custard, or you could make the cookie cups full-size (I made them in a mini-muffin tin) and put ice cream in them! Maybe cinnamon ice cream??
Molasses sugar cookies – nice and chewy with the dark, rich taste of molasses and classic crinkles on top.
Molasses sugar cookies in cup form – able to be filled with more delicious goodness!
2/3 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Sugar for rolling cookies in (1/2-3/4 cup)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream shortening and sugar until smooth.
3. Add egg and molasses and beat until well mixed.
4. In separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add to wet ingredients and mix until combined.
5. Cover and chill for at least 3 hours.
6. Remove from refrigerator and shape into 1-inch balls.
7. Roll dough balls in sugar and place into lightly greased muffin tin, squishing them slightly to fill the space – the muffin cups should be about 2/3 full.
8. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges.
9. Remove from oven and immediately use whatever tool you choose – in my case, the handle of a whisk – to press out a space in the middle of the cup.
10. Allow the cups to cool for a while in the pan before popping them out to cool fully on a wire rack. (I had some trouble with this part – the top half of the cup kept wanting to separate from the bottom half. I think letting them cool a little longer in the pan would have helped. But I also found that while they were still warm, I could stick the parts back together and they would be good as new once they cooled!)
11. Once the cups are cool, fill them with the filling of your choice and enjoy!