The word cookie, also spelled cooky, is a small cake — often, but not always in a flattish round shape — made with a sweetened dough. The word comes from koekje, the diminutive of the Dutch word for cake. There are several standard ways for forming cookies, and molded cookies are one of these styles. Some explanations of molded cookies on the Internet are incorrect, so a clarification is in order.
There are eight main ways to shape a cookie. For bar cookies, the batter is poured into a pan and usually served cut into squares or rectangles, while refrigerator cookies are shaped into a log, chilled, and then sliced before baking. Griddle or iron cookies made with a special baker include Pizzelles and Krumkake, and deep-fried cookies like Rosettes, are cooked on a special iron, and drop cookies are dropped by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Pressed cookies are made by pressing cough through a pastry bag or cookie press, while rolled cookies and cut out with cookie cutters from thinly rolled dough. Molded cookies, confused by some with rolled cookies and by others with pressed cookies, are actually either hand-shaped cookies or those that are pressed into a cookie mold.
Examples of molded cookies come from a variety of cultures. Pfeffernüsse and Lebkuchen from Germany may be rolled into balls by hand, and Pastelitos de boda or Mexican wedding cookies as well as Russian Tea Cakes share the rounded shape. Kipfel— made in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Austria — and Kourambiethes and Kourabiedes from Greece are often, if not always, shaped as crescents.
Variations on molded cookies included molding dough around a surprise treat, such as a Hershey’s® Kiss or Hug. Another type is the thumbprint cookie in which a rolled ball is then pressed with the thumb, and the thumbprint filled with jam. They are also called Butterballs or Polish Tea Cakes.
As far as molded cookies that are actually made in cookie molds go, Speculaas or Spekulatius may be the most famous. The name means “mirror” and may reflect the fact that the image on the cookie mirrors the image on the mold. A Springerle cookie is kind of a cross between a molded cookie and a rolled cookie because the mold is pressed onto the dough using a special rolling pin that has been carved to create a mold.