Spicy Gingerbread Cookies
4 3/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup unsulfered (light) molasses, such as Grandma'
In a large bowl, whick together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add egg, egg tolk and molasses and beat until will blended and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually beat in flour mixture, scraping down side of bowl as necessary, until fully incorporated. Dough will be soft and sticky. Divide dough into thirds. Scrape each mound of dough onto a separate sheet of plastic wrap. With lightly floured hands, pat dough out to a 1/2 inch thick disk. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until dough is well chilled and firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.
Working with one disk of dough at a time, remove dough from refrigerator. Unwrap dough and place in on lightly floured surface. Roll to a thickness of 1/4 inch or just over. Transfer rolled dough to a large baking sheet and place in freezer until very firm, about 10 minutes. Well-chilled dough will yield cookie shapes with well-defined edges.
Working with one pice of rolled dough at a time, remove dough from freezer. With lightly floured cookie cutter, cut dough into desired shapes. Very carefully, lift each cut out cookie and put at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate unbaked cookies until firm, about 8 minutes. With a pastry brush, dust excess flour off dough scraps. Gently knead dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill before rolling and cutting more shapes.
Bake cookies until the edges are golden brown, about 14-16 minutes depending on their size and thickness.
Allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for 3-5 minutes. Using a metal cookie spatula, transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies are ready to decorate when completely cooled. If necessary, store cookies in an airtight container until ready to decorate.
VARIATION: For extra spicy cookies, increase ground ginger and cinnamond to 4 teaspoons each and cloves to 1 teaspoon.