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These look and smell like real gingerbread, but are not edible! They are extremely cute ornaments for the tree, and can be decorated with acrylic paint once they are dry! They harden up very well, and will last for years if cared for. I have so many good memories of taking out the tin of these on Christmas, and having the house smell like gingerbread instantly while trimming the tree! Note: Prep time includes cooling time before baking, as well as hardening time after baking.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Beat shortening and sugar together in a large bowl. Stir in molasses.
- Sift baking soda, ground cloves, ginger, cinnamon and flour together in a large bowl. Stir this mixture plus water into the sugar and shortening mixture, alternately adding the water and baking soda mixture to the shortening mixture.
- Stir until mixed thoroughly and refrigerate 6-8 hours.
- Cut dough into three equal pieces, knead each piece lightly and then use a rolling pin to roll out each piece to a 1/4-inch thickness.
- Use holiday cookie cutters made in the shapes of gingerbread people and houses to cut shapes out of the dough.
- Use a medium- to large-sized drinking straw or the end of a wooden chopstick to make a hole at the top of each shape. *Tip: make sure to really make a sizable hole (bigger than you think you need), as these do puff up in the cooking process, making the hole shrink.
- Put cookies on cookie sheets and bake for about 20 minutes. Turn oven off and allow cookies to cool in the oven. This will help harden the cookies.
- Place cookies on racks to completely harden. Place racks in a cool, dry place and let sit for two to three days.
- Coat cookies with clear acrylic or varnish and allow cookies to dry thoroughly.
- Paint cookies with acrylic paints as desired. Allow paint to dry thoroughly.
- Thread a 5- to 6-inch length of narrow ribbon or cording through the hole at the top of each ornament. You may have to use a toothpick to chip a little bit of cookie out of the hole if it has closed up a bit, before threading with ribbon. Knot ends and hang ornaments.