Mule’s Ears Cookies

IMG_5993Last Saturday my sisters and I went to a bazaar at the Holmstad retirement community where our mom resides. After checking out the This ‘n’ That room, and the jewelry counter, which was mobbed, we made a beeline to the bake sale. The Holmstad is under the auspices of the Swedish Covenant Church, and some of the ladies bake Swedish specialties such as cardamom bread and skorpa, a kind of Swedish toast.  I was not prepared for the Mule’s Ears Cookies, though, that were for sale. Mule’s Ears? A new one on me! I bought a plateful, knowing that I had to find the recipe, because the cookies were simply adorable.

First attempt.
First attempt.

On the internet, I found three recipes, all different. Which to choose? Meanwhile, Jim informed me that the cookies, however adorable, were a bit hard, more like Mule Hooves, and I also found that they tasted rather strongly of cloves, which I always think should be used with restraint. I chose Door # 3 (from desktopcookbook.com), and got my apron on. The dough went together easily, and I let it chill for two hours. This is when the going got rough. My first attempt looked like antlers, and other attempts were not much of an improvement. It occurred to me that I had never seen a mule up close, and had no idea what their ears looked like.  So after many attempts, I had to accept that my Mule’s Ear’s were never going to look like the bake sale Ears, and I think I know why. The hardness of the originals betrayed that they contained too much flour. So they were easier to mold, but didn’t taste as good–I have to say–as mine, which are tender, delicious and crispy.  So here is my version of Mule’s Ears Cookies.

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Mule’s Ears Cookies

Mule photo from a-z-animals.com
Mule photo from a-z-animals.com

1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream the shortening with the two sugars. Lightly beat the eggs and add with the molasses to the shortening mixture. Stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the shortening mixture and stir until combined. Chill for two hours. Mold (see directions) and bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees for ten minutes.

Baking notes: Normally I’m not crazy about using white shortening, but something told me not to fool with this recipe. And I have to say, the cookies are deliciously crisp. Also, if you bake for about ten minutes, the cookies will be crispy with a bit of chewiness. After 11 to 12 minutes, they are crispy all the way through.

To form the cookies, use about a tablespoon of dough, roll into a ball, and then roll in sugar.

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Roll into spindle-shapes about three inches long.

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Use your finger to flatten out the lower part of the spindle.

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Pinch in to model the ear. Place them on the cookie sheet about a half inch apart.

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This is a really excellent cookie, crispy and tender. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making Mule’s Ears, you can roll a scant tablespoon of dough in sugar and bake it to make nice round, crackly cookies. A good cookie to remember for Christmas. It would be delicious dipped in chocolate. The strawberry jar in the photo below is from Finland, and I got it at the bazaar. My sister Janet, who has an eagle eye, pointed it out to me. I love it!

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Meanwhile, the garden is winding down. Here is some Bright Lights Swiss chard that is so pretty I hate to cut it down.

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And the cosmos is still blooming.

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And today, a robin posed on a fence post, and the jeweled seeds of Persicaria ‘Painter’s Palette” glowed in the autumn sun. Hope your week is a good one. Fran

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