Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and mix thoroughly. Add shortening and work into a fine crumb mixture using hands or pastry fork. Reserve scant handful (~ 1/4 cup).
In medium bowl, combine molasses and baking soda. Beat with wooden spoon until light and taffy colored. Add boiling water to molasses — this will foam up. Mix well. Add to dry ingredients and mix well. This will be a little lumpy depending on how finely the crumbs were worked.
Divide evenly among 12 paper lined cupcakes. Top with a sprinkling of crumbs. Preheat oven to 350 °F oven, and bake for 20 minutes or until cake tests done.
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