PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICHARD R. JUNG
1 teaspoon plus 1/2 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup light molasses
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
Dried currants, red-hots, fresh or dried cranberries and silver dragees for decorating
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
Frosting or confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet by greasing or lining it.
In a large bowl, beat the 1/2 cup butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses until well blended. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt.
. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat until well blended. Beat in about 1/4 cup milk, then add the remaining flour mixture, beating it in well. The dough will be very stiff. If it is too stiff to roll out, add 1 tablespoon of milk
On a well-floured work surface, roll the dough out to a thickness of about 1/2 inch, then cut into shapes using cookie cutters or by tracing with a knife around cardboard cutouts. Transfer the shapes to the prepared pan.
Decorate the gingerbread people with current eyes and red hots for buttons, pressing them into the dough before baking, or attach them with frosting after baking.
Bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the cookies are puffed and spring back when pushed with your finger. Transfer the cookies from the pan to a wire rack to cool. Decorate with frosting and confectioners' sugar as desired.