Just as setting out milk and cookies will appease a jolly elf, these gingerbread critters are sure to tame ornery beasts. Lemony royal icing cloaks the cookies with spider web and bat disguises. Use extra icing to give the bats staring eyes and to make chubby spiders.
6 cups all-purpose flour (sifted, then measured), plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unsulfured molasses
Sift flour, baking soda, and baking powder together into a large bowl; set aside.
Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Beat in eggs and molasses. Reduce speed to low; beat in flour mixture.
Divide dough into three equal pieces, and flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Print out the bat and cobweb templates found here, and cut them out. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Using templates and a paring knife, cut dough into shapes. Transfer shapes to baking sheets and refrigerate 15 minutes.
Bake until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks. Decorate with royal icing.
Halloween 2004, October Holiday 2004