Gingerbread House Dough

2-3 dozen cookies, or one gingerbread house and accouterments

3½          cups all-purpose flour

2              teaspoons ground ginger

1½          teaspoons ground cinnamon

1              teaspoon baking soda

½             teaspoon salt

1              cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾             cup (packed) dark brown sugar

½             cup molasses - not black strap, and preferably "golden", "mild"  or "sorghum" molasses

1              large egg

½             teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt into large bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in another large bowl at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.  Add brown sugar; beat 1 minute. Add molasses; beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce speed to low; beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed just to blend.
  2. Gather dough into ball; divide in half. Form each half into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap disks separately in plastic; chill until firm, at least 4 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
  3. Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper to  ¼-inch thickness. Use gingerbread house templates or decorative cookie cutters to cut-out shapes and transfer to prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather scraps, roll out dough, and cut more shapes/cookies, repeating until all dough is used.  Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are firm on top and slightly darker around edges, about 8 minutes for smaller shapes and up to 15 minutes for larger shapes.
  4. Cool completely on rack. Line baking sheets with fresh parchment as needed. 

Note: Cookies will not spread much during baking, but for precise gingerbread house construction, cookies can be perfectly re-cut while still hot.  Place the paper templates on top of the hot cookies, and quickly cut with a plain-edge knife - but be careful not to burn yourself!