Ever since our trip to San Diego–where the weather was cooler–I’ve been yearning for fall weather and all things autumn. This past Sunday Stephen and I hosted an autumn-themed party, and these cookies were our dessert of choice. We had never made them before, but they’re definitely a keeper.My sister-in-law Amy had given me these fall shaped cookie cutters back when we lived in Indiana, and I was finally able to make cookies with them. I chose the largest size of each shape: an oak leaf, maple leaf, and an acorn.The molasses cookie recipe was my mom’s (see below). I doubled the recipe and made 25 sandwiches (50 single cookies). You could also make these for Christmas using Christmas or winter shaped cookie cutters. Molasses cookies are the perfect match for apple cider or wassail.
Since the cookie batter is not meant to be rolled out into a flat sheet, I grabbed a handful of batter, kneaded it in my hands for a few seconds, and then flattened it on the kitchen counter with my hands. I then used a spatula to place it on the cookie sheet so it would maintain its shape. A little tedious, yes, but not too bad–especially if you find baking relaxing.
The recipe for the Maple Cream Cheese Filling was an internet find of Stephen’s, and we tweaked it just a bit. It called for unsalted butter, and unbelievably Walmart was completely sold out of Great Value unsalted butter the night we went shopping. (We’re guessing it was a price-match item on sale that week.) Anyway, we used salted butter, and it turned out great. We also sifted the powdered sugar so it wouldn’t make the filling lumpy.
The other change we made was to add imitation maple flavoring. At first we tried using the maple syrup called for by the recipe, but it came out too sweet and not very “maple-y.” Thankfully I had some imitation maple flavoring on hand, leftover from when I made the Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls. Since the flavoring is strong, we added only 1/4 tsp maple flavoring. (If you try leaving out the maple syrup altogether, you should probably use more flavoring.) It was just the thing! Stephen made a single batch of the filling, and the left over filling makes a great fruit dip.
So, after chilling the filling and letting the cookies cool, we iced the cookies and made them into sandwiches. Yum! Alas, I don’t have a picture of the finished product because I hadn’t planned on blogging about them. You’ll just have to make them yourself!
Molasses Cookies (adapted from my mom)
Mix together: 3/4 c. shortening, 1 c. brown sugar (packed), 1 egg, 1/4 c. molasses
Sift together and add to above mix: 2 & 1/4 c. flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1 tsp ginger
Chill. Knead batter a handful at at time and flatten on counter. Use cookie cutter to cut out shape. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes (we baked them for 7 minutes since our oven is extra hot and we wanted them to be a little soft).
Maple Cream Cheese Filling (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted or salted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon imitation maple flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the filling, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth with no visible lumps, about 3 minutes. Add the cream cheese and beat until smooth and combined, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar a little at a time (sifting as you add), then add the maple syrup, maple flavoring, and vanilla and beat until smooth.