Chewiest Gingerbread Cookies
This gingerbread recipe is an adaptation from the popular little Pasadena bakery I worked at.  HOMIGOSH, these cookies are the absolute most delicious gingymen I've ever had.  I make this for every occasion and birthdays, not just the holidays.  My little cousin just came back from Chicago and bought me the CUTEST little Gingerdead Man cookie cutter.  You can bet Gingerdead'll be showing his face somewhere around here soon!

Ingredients
4 ounces unsalted butter, cold
2 ounces vegetable shortening 
¾ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup molasses
1 tablespoon milk
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
1½ tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions
1.  With a paddle attachment, cream butter, shortening and brown sugar in a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Use spatula to scrape down bowl.

2.  Pour in molasses with mixer on low.  Scrape down sides of bowl with a spatula.  Add milk and give the mixer a couple turns.

3.  Sift flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, baking soda and salt.  Add a third of the flour to butter mixture in a few with the mixer on lowest speed.  When flour is slightly incorporated, add another third of the flour and turn a few more times.  Add flour for the last time with mixer on low until flour is just absorbed.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  You'll get a tough cookie, hehe.

4.  Go ahead, eat some yummy batter :)

5.  Cut two long pieces of plastic wrap.  Split dough in two (it will be a wet dough) and place dough on each plastic wrap.  Fold the plastic wrap over dough, slightly flattening it out into a 6-inch disc.  Wrap dough completely so no dough is touching air!

6.  Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes or until slightly stiffened so it's easier to roll out.

7.  Prehead oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 2 aluminum half bun pans (not a dark or non-stick pan... they will cook unevenly and may burn on bottom) with a parchment paper... or not.  I sometimes don't.

8.  Roll out dough:  Instead of sprinkling flour everywhere and making a mess (and even worse, making you add more flour to your cookie dough!), unwrap your cookie dough disc and place inbetween a plastic grocery bag.  Cut 2 long lines down the right and left sides of the bag, leaving the bottom intact, so it opens or unfolds like a book.  With your gingerbread dough disc sandwiched inbetween the cut bag, use rolling pin to roll dough to generously ¼-inch thick.

9.  Use a cookie cutter to cut out pieces.  TIP: Dough is a wetter dough, so you must handle the cookies as little as possible or else your lil men will end up looking like they're double jointed >.<  So undo the scrap dough around the men and carefully lift the little men out onto the pan.  They may be tacky to the bag, so use the bag to lift and manuever the cookies up.  Space lil gingy men about 1½-inches away from each other.  They don't spread much.

10.  Bake for 10 to 11 minutes.  Sit back and wait for your house to fill with the wonderful gingerbread aromas of Christmas.  Oh yummy.