Thick and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies submitted by Karen Johnson
These soft, moist, lightly spiced gingerbread cookies are sure to become part of your holiday tradition. Makes about twenty-five 4-inch gingerbread people.

Because flour is not added during rolling, dough scraps can be rolled
and cut as many times as necessary. Don't overbake the cookies or they will
be dry. Store soft gingerbread in a wide, shallow airtight container or
tin with a sheet of parchment or waxed paper between each cookie layer.
These cookies are best eaten within one week.

1. In food processor workbowl fitted with steel blade, process flour,
sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking soda until combined,
about 10 seconds. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and process
until mixture is sandy and resembles very fine meal, about 15 seconds.
With machine running, gradually add molasses and milk; process until
dough is evenly moistened and forms soft mass, about 10 seconds.
Alternatively, in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment,
stir together flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and baking
soda at low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and add
butter pieces; mix at medium-low speed until mixture is sandy and
resembles fine meal, about 1 1/2 minutes. Reduce speed to low and, with
mixer running, gradually add molasses and milk; mix until dough is
evenly moistened, about 20 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until
thoroughly combined, about 10 seconds.

2. Scrape dough onto work surface; divide in half. Working with one
portion of dough at a time, roll between two large sheets of parchment
paper to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Leaving dough sandwiched between
parchment layers, stack on cookie sheet and freeze until firm, 15 to 20
minutes. (Alternatively, refrigerate dough 2 hours or overnight.)

3. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven
to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

4. Remove one dough sheet from freezer; place on work surface. Peel off
top parchment sheet and gently lay it back in place. Flip dough over;
peel off and discard second parchment layer. Cut dough into 5-inch
gingerbread people or 3-inch gingerbread cookies, then transfer shapes to
parchment-lined cookie sheets with wide metal spatula, spacing them 3/4
inch apart; set scraps aside. Repeat with remaining dough until cookie
sheets are full. Bake cookies until set in centers and dough barely
retains imprint when touched very gently with fingertip, 8 to 11
minutes, rotating cookie sheets front to back and switching positions top to
bottom halfway through baking time. Do not overbake. Cool cookies on
sheets 2 minutes, then remove with wide metal spatula to wire rack; cool
to room temperature.

5. Gather scraps; repeat rolling, cutting, and baking in steps 2 and 4.
Repeat with remaining dough until all dough is used.

v 3 cups all-purpose flour
v 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
v 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
v 1 tablespoon ground ginger
v 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
v 1/2 teaspoon salt
v 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
v 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and
v softened slightly
v 3/4 cup unsulphured molasses
v 2 tablespoons milk