This recipe is by far the most versatile one in the book. It makes an abundance of cookies and ornaments, a fabulous piecrust (or ice cream pie, this page), and a delicious ice cream sandwich with Eggnog Ice Cream (this page). More than anything, this recipe holds a very special place in my heart for all the wonderful memories it brings up, since I’ve baked these cookies for many a performance of Ballet Spartanburg’s The Nutcracker.
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 7 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 0.25 cup vegetable shortening
- 1 cup (packed) light or dark brown sugar
- 1¼ cups molasses
- 0.25 cup ice water
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, allspice, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and salt.
- In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening, brown sugar, and molasses on high speed until combined, 1 minute. Add the ice water. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just to combine.
- Increase the speed to high and beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes.
- Separate the dough into 4 equal portions. Working with one at a time on a floured work surface, roll the dough out until it is ⅜ inch thick. Cut out gingerbread man shapes and place them on the prepared pans. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Bake until set around the edges and slightly puffy, 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake or the cookies will be too hard to enjoy. Cool slightly before moving the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies will keep in an airtight container up to 4 days. These cookies are great for decorating, too.