At Christmas time in Germany, the air fills with the smell of almonds, marzipan, cinnamon, cloves, gingerbread, and freshly baked spiced cookies.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder - either in a large bowl or with the food processor - and set aside.
- Beat the butter and brown sugar together until creamed - the mixture is should be fluffy. Add in the ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and pepper. Then mix in the eggs and molasses.
- Mixing constantly, add the sifted flour, gradually.
- Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic or foil and chill it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Sprinkle flour on a clean surface. Roll dough to 1/8 of an inch (3-4 mm) thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
- Pre-heat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- Put the cookies on a baking sheet and refrigerate them for about 15 minutes. The dough will become firm, preventing cookies from spreading too much. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, or until crisp.
- Remove the cookies to a rack and allow them to cool.
Cut star, bell, or Christmas tree shapes for Christmas; bunnies and egg shapes for Easter; hearts for Valentine's; maybe balloon shapes or squares to decorate as a wrapped present for a birthday.
After the cookies cool, decorate them with icing and color sprinkles, or just sprinkle some icing sugar on top.
A food processor makes dough in no time at all. Alternatively, use a hand blender and a large bowl to cream butter and sugar and mix the dough.