Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and spray lightly with pan coating.
Cream the butter with flat paddle attachment of electric mixer on high speed about 3 minutes or until soft. Beat in sugar; continue beating for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and then beat in egg, scraping down bowl once or twice.
Sift together flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three batches, mixing just until each batch is blended. Shape into a large flat ball by hand, kneading a few times until smooth. Shape into two disks (6-inch by 9-inch). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm enough to roll out. Overnight is best.
Using a rolling pin, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 3/16-inch thickness. Cut out shapes as desired using either a gingerbread person shape or any other cookie cutter of your choice. Transfer to cookie sheets using a broad-angled spatula, leaving at least 1 inch between cookies. Place similar sized cookies on the same cookie sheets. To make hanging ornaments, punch holes in the tops of the shapes with a straw.
Bake approximately 9 1/2 to 12 minutes depending on size, rotating pans front to back once during baking. They should just begin to brown around the edges and feel firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool pans on wire racks for a few minutes; transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
Let cookie sheets cool completely before proceeding with next batch (you may reuse the parchment paper).
Store baked cookies in airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks or freeze for up to one month. Decorate as you desire with Royal Icing (see recipe below).
I chose this recipe because I can get Just Whites at my local market. I had problems getting the Meringue Powder that is recommended in many recipes. Raw Egg Whites are not advised to use these days. - Peggy
Warning: Any grease will break down icing. Remember if the icing is too dry, add water a few drops at a time. If icing is too moist, add more powdered sugar. It is as simple as that.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together powdered sugar, cream of tartar, and Egg White Powder. Add water and vanilla extract; beat at low speed until sugar is dissolved, then at high speed about 10 minutes or until mixture is light and fluffy (icing must hold its shape before using).
Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying.
I spooned 1/2 of this Royal Icing mixture into a 10-inch piping bag fitted with a #2 tip. I liked putting a "Chip Clip" on the top of the bag to keep it closed and twisting the bag to get the icing to flow. By twisting, I used a lot less hand pressure and didn't tire out so easily. Put the piping bag tip side down in a glass that has a damp paper towel in the bottom. This will keep the icing hardening up like cement while you attend to other life duties.
To the second 1/2 of the Royal Icing, I added water, a teaspoon at a time, and mixed well until the consistency of heavy whipping cream. Then I poured it into a squeezable bottle with a cap and stored the bottle upside down in a glass. I outlined the cookie with the pastry bag and let them sit for a few minutes, Then flood the icing from the squeeze bottle, with a back and forth motion over the whole area. If necessary use a knife to smooth all over the cookie and a toothpick comes in handy for getting rid of tiny bubbles and filling little holes. Set aside and let dry overnight.
Next day, pipe your designs. I had eight drawings of patterns that I made up, so I taped them on my dish closet door right in front of my face for fast reference. The drawing were the basic idea and every cookie ended up with different points, curls, swirls and dots. Let dry overnight then package.
* NOTE: You can substitute Kings Syrup or Treacle for the unsulphured molasses in the Gingerbread Cookie Recipe if you want a lighter colored cookie.
** Can be purchased at most craft stores.
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe: https://whatscookingamerica.net/cookie/gingerbreadcookies.htm