I have to admit I am reknowned for my gingerbread cookies. This is an adaption of a Martha Stewart ("oh, her") recipe that I've used for over 10 years now. There is quite a kick from black pepper and the ginger in the cookie paired with lemon juice in the royal icing.
You can use small cookie cutters or large ones - I tend to make large Christmas trees, snowflakes and stars that are about 6 inches across.
6 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 cup (8oz) unsulfured molasses (you want the lighter color – usually a brown label such as Grandma’s)
1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.
2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
3. Mix in spices and salt, then eggs and molasses.
4. Add flour mixture; combine on low speed. Divide dough in thirds; wrap in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour.
5. Heat oven to 350°. On a floured work surface, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes.
6. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets; refrigerate until firm, 15 minutes. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes.
7. Let cookies cool on wire racks, then decorate as desired.
Serving: makes 16 large cookies
Photo: Gingerbread Cookies, by seeingbeauty, Flickr