Gingerbread Men

Gingerbread men (or women or bears or cats or whatever shape you like) are my favorite Christmas cookie.  I believe this recipe came from my mother and it makes a lot of cookies, so if I'm not taking them anywhere then I make only half a batch.  I suppose they could be frozen, but they've never lasted long enough to try it!  

1 C dark brown sugar
1 C white Crisco brand shortening
1 C dark or light brown molasses
1/4 scant tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C hot water
5 C all-purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and shortening together.  Add the molasses and salt to the shortening and sugar mixture.  Dissolve the baking soda in the hot water, then add it to the batter.  Add the remaining dry ingredients to the batter a little at a time. Cover and chill the dough overnight.

2. Take the dough out of the refrigerator about a 1/2 hour before you want to make the cookies. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Roll out the dough on lightly floured surface to about 1/4 inch in thickness.  Add a little cool dough each time you roll it out.  Use your favorite cookie cutters to cut out cookies.   If desired, decorate the cookies with oven-safe items like raisins and red-hots.

3. Bake the cookies on a parchment-lined cookie sheet for 9-10 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing from the cookie sheets.

4. When cool, decorate the cookies as desired with frosting.