Gingerbread Cookies

20 gingerbread people or 30 cookies

3 cups (15 oz.) all purpose flour
3/4 cup (5 oz.) brown sugar
Scant 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (adjusted for altitude)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (6 oz. or 1 ¨ö sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons milk

Pulse all dry ingredients in a food processor to combine. Add butter and process until mixture appears sandy. With machine running, add the molasses and milk and process until dough comes together.

Divide dough into 2 and roll each out to a ¨ù inch thickness between 2 pieces of parchment paper. Leaving the dough sandwiched between the parchment, stack them on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. From each sheet of dough, stamp out cookies using a cookie cutter and place on lined sheet pans, spaced on inch apart. Bake until light golden brown and show a slight resistance to touch, 8 to 11 minutes. Rotate pans halfway through baking. Let cool on sheet pans for 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes: Many recipes call for creaming the butter and sugar, then adding dry ingredients. Mixing in a food processor creates firmer dough. Chilling the dough before cutting makes it easier to maintain the shape when transferred to the sheet pans.

34 people or 54 cookies

Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece out to ¨û inch thick. Stamp cookies and bake in 325 oven until slight darkened and firm in the center when touched, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool as above.

These crisp cookies are perfect for ornaments. Punch a hole with a straw for threading when they're just out of the oven.

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