To begin set the oven to 350° F. Then in a medium bowl mix shortening, molasses, sugars, and egg until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Two notes on the molasses: Molasses can be hard to pour because it's so thick. If you heat it up for a few seconds in the microwave it will pour much easier and you can get the last bit out of the jar. Additionally, there are a few good ways to measure 3/8 cup. I happen to own a 1/8 cup measure which makes my life easier, but you can also measure out a 1/4 c and then fill it up again half way. It's not an exact science, so it's not a big deal if you put in a little more or a little less. Also 1/8 cup is equal to two tablespoons, so you can also measure out a 1/4 cup and add two tablespoons.
In a separate bowl combine two cups of flour, spices and baking soda.
Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
Add the final cup of flour as needed. I do this by feel and it does vary from time to time. The dough should be dry enough that it starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and becomes one unit. It should still be wet enough though that when you roll it into balls a little stills sticks to your hands. For this particular time I used all three cups of flour, so don't be afraid of going there.
Pour a sugar into a small bowl or dish. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and roll in the sugar. Place on an ungreased baking sheet a couple inches apart.
Place the cookies into a preheated oven. The cookies should be ready in about ten minutes. I like to set the timer for eight or nine minutes and then keep an eye on them until they are just ready. The key to knowing when they're ready is the cracks that begin to form on the top. If you take them out when the first crack forms the cookies will be very soft and chewy (this is how I prefer them). If you wait until cracks have formed on all the cookies then the cookies will be more on the crunchy, crispy side of things.
After you've taken them out of the oven leave on the sheet to cool and then remove them with a spatula. If you bake more than one set on the same cookie sheet I recommend offsetting the placement of the new dough balls. Otherwise they may stick to the cooked remains of the last batch and be very difficult remove after baking.
Like our cookie tin?
This was another great Goodwill find from our shopping trip for the DIY Holiday Contest.
We sanded down the whole tin and lid to create texture for painting. Then we took the tin outside (you could do this in a well-ventilated area), laid down a tarp, and started on our first coat of spray paint. We used painter's tape for our design and to cover the inside of the tin. We painted our lid gold and the container white, making sure we used enough coats to cover the original pattern. It took us a while before there weren't little ghosts of teddy bears showing through. Once the white paint dried, we taped off our pattern with painters tape and applied two coats of red spray paint.
Once all the paint has dried you can remove the tape and your tin is ready for cookies!