Nothing says “Pennsylvania Dutch” like Shoofly pie. Whether it’s the wet-bottom or dry-bottom version, you will find this iconic dessert throughout Pennsylvania Dutch country and The Coal Region. A feature at many diners, bakeries, farmers’ market and road-side stands, shoofly pie is a staple throughout my beloved state of Pennsylvania.
Shoofly Pie was created out of everyday food staples that were readily available; the Amish and Pennsylvania Dutch are frugal people and have a history of creating delicious foods from meager supplies. Shoofly Pie is often eaten for breakfast along with a cup of coffee.
A popular and widely-repeated theory claims the name for the pie originated from the sticky pie itself and its penchant for attracting flies as it sat cooling in the kitchen of the proud baker who just created it and their attempt to dispatch the flies: “Shoo, fly!”
I have loved Shoofly pie for as long as I can remember. The first time I tried my hand at baking one, I was amazed at the actual simplicity of the process. The end result was a grand success and I started turning them out on a regular basis for my folks. My Pop loved a piece of pie any time of day.
But now that my household consists of only two people, a whole pie can be just too much. My health issues dictate a slice or two must do and my Yankee-born and raised husband does not share the exuberance for this Dutchie delight that I do.
Enter these mini Shoofly pies my husband James dubbed “Shooflettes”. (A play on the name given to our compact-sized pontoon boat that we enjoyed on Lake Sunapee for many years — the “Marie Pontoonette“)
These two-bite morsels combine all the goodness of a slice of Shoofly pie into a portable treat. A buttery crust embraces a rich molasses layer topped by sweet crumbs. Great for packing in lunches, cookie swaps, or small families, these are a winner — and my husband likes them!
One of my kitchen helper favorites
Even before my struggles with Rheumatoid Arthritis and its crippling effect on my hands, I started using a tart tamper when forming crusts in mini muffin tins. In the past, frustration constantly set in as the time it took to press the dough into those little cups with my fingers seemed to be longer than completing the rest of the recipe.
Once my RA became advanced, it was nearly impossible for me to work the dough into the cups completely by hand. Even before the complications from RA, I found the entire process simply infuriating, Uneven surfaces, holes in the crusts from fingernails, and spinning the muffin pans around while pressing the dough up the sides of the cups drove me crazy!
Now, I use a tart tamper any time I make any recipe that uses a crust pressed into mini or regular muffin tins. You can watch my quick video of how to use a tamper on Youtube – click below.
The correct molasses
Use “baking” molasses in this recipe, like Brer Rabbit or Grandma’s brand. “Table syrup”, which is based on corn syrup, is too mild and the molasses layer flavor won’t stand out. Examples of table syrup include Turkey Table Syrup and King’s Syrup.
Shooflettes (Mini Shoofly Pies)Course: DessertsCuisine: PA Dutch, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate
Bite-sized version of the iconic beloved Pennsylvania Dutch Shoofly Pie.
1/3 cup (5 1/3 Tablespoons) cold butter, cut in small cubes (do not not substitute)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
Ice water as needed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon cold butter, cut in small pieces
- Bottom filling
3 tablespoons hot water
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses
1 beaten egg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees
- Lightly spray twenty-four 1-3/4-inch mini muffin cups with nonstick spray coating; set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, place 1/3 cup butter, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt; using a pastry cutter or two butter knives, work until well combined and crumbly. Beat in egg yolk and vanilla; then stir in 1 cup flour. IF NEEDED: Add ice water very gradually using only what is necessary to form a dough that holds together and can be pressed into the muffin tins. Be careful not to over-work dough or add too much water.
- Divide dough into 24 equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball. Place each ball in a prepared muffin cup. Press dough evenly against the bottoms and up the sides of cups. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, brown sugar, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and the cubed 1 Tablespoon cold butter. Work into very fine crumbs using a pastry cutter or fingers. Set aside. (A mini food processor works nicely for making the crumbs.)
- Bottom filling
- In a 1-cup measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the molasses, hot water, and beaten egg. Stir in the baking soda thoroughly.
- Place 1 1/2 teaspoons syrup in each prepared dough cup. Divide any remaining syrup evenly among the cups.
- Sprinkle top of each tart with 3/4 teaspoon crumbs Divide any remaining crumbs evenly among the cups.
- Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree F oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is puffed. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Carefully remove tarts from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Makes 24 tarts.