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There's no way I could pass up on this recipe, which comes from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book, 2004. Baking time is an estimate, depending on the number of gingerbread men that can be baked at the same time.
- 3 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour, plus
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2⁄3 cup cocoa powder, sifted (preferably natural cocoa powder)
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger (not more than 2 months from purchase)
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2⁄3 cup vegetable shortening
- 1⁄2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 3⁄4 cup unsulphured molasses
- 1⁄8 cup raisins, for garnish
- 1⁄8 cup red-hot candies, for garnish
- Position racks in the top & bottom thirds of the oven, then preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- With shortening (not on ingredient list) to grease several large baking sheets, then set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder & cloves until spices & coca are evenly distributed, then set aside.
- In a 2nd large bowl, & using an electric mixer on medium speed, cream shortening & brown sugar until smooth & airy, about 1 minute.
- Beat in egg & then the molasses.
- Turn off mixer & add prepared flour mixture, then AT VERY LOW SPEED beat just until crumbly bits of dough form, but not until the mass begins to cohere into a ball.
- With flour lightly dust a clean, dry work surface as well as your hands.
- Turn dough out & knead just until it forms a smooth mass, about 30 seconds.
- Divide into thirds & cover them with a clean kitchen towel.
- With flour lightly dust the work surface again & roll one of the thirds to a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Flour the dough & a rolling pin only as necessary.
- Use a large gingerbread-man cookie cutter to cut the dough into the desired shapes, then use a metal spatula to transfer them carefully to the prepared baking sheet(s). Gather any scraps, lightly dust again with flour & roll out a 2nd time, creating additional gingerbread men.
- Decorate the cookies with the raisins & red hots, using one for the eyes & the other for the mouths. Additional red hots can be used as buttons on their coats.
- Bake for 4 minutes, then rotate sheets top to bottom & front to back.
- Bake another 4 minutes, or until cookies feel dry but still are a little soft.
- Remove from oven & cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
- Cool the baking sheets for 5 more minutes, then regrease them before baking additional batches, as necessary, OR work with 2 additional baking sheets, preparing them while the others are in the oven.
- Keep no longer than 2 days at room temperature, several more days in the refrigerator, OR up to a month in the freezer.