Joe Froggers (photo by Mary Mouzar)

Joe Froggers (Old-Fashioned Molasses Cookies)
(This is a big, flat, old-fashioned soft molasses cookie, supposedly created by an elderly man fondly known as Uncle Joe. The cookies were said to somewhat resemble the frogs in the pond near Joe’s house, and subsequently became known as Joe Froggers. In a tightly covered box or jar, Joe Froggers can be kept for 2 or 3 weeks.)

4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup shortening, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

In a medium bowl, sift together  3 1/2 cups of the flour, salt, ginger, cloves, nutmeg and allspice.

In a smaller bowl, stir the molasses and soda together until the mixture stops foaming.

In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add molasses and beat until well-mixed. Beat in water. Stir in the flour mixture, about 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition, and continue to beat until the dough is smooth. Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or at least 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle a board with the remaining 1/2 cup of flour, and on it, roll the dough out into a rough rectangle about 1/4 to 1/3-inch thick. With a cookie cutter or rim of a drinking glass, cut the dough into 3-inch rounds. Gather the scraps and roll out to cut as many more rounds as possible. Place rounds 2 inches apart on well-greased baking sheets.

Bake one pan at a time in the middle of the oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are crisp around the edges and the tops feel firm when gently touched with a finger. Watch them carefully because molasses cookies can burn on the bottoms if not removed as soon as they are done. With a wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks.
If using the same pan all cookies, allow the pan to cool before adding more cookies for baking
(Makes about 20 four-inch diameter cookies)

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