cubed and softened or shortening, butter flavor preferred
or milk substitute
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Preheat oven to 350°.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together dry ingredients. Add butter and mix until a fine meal forms. Mix molasses with milk. Add to bowl and mix thoroughly.
Divide dough in half or quarters and roll to desired thickness between two pieces of parchment paper or plastic wrap. Set aside on cookie sheets to chill in refrigerator or freeze for 15 minutes, until dough is stiff.
Working with one cookie sheet at a time, remove from refrigerator, remove top sheet, cut out cookies, and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet. It is fine to re-roll the dough leftover from cutting out the cookies; gather scraps together, push into a ball of dough, re-roll into dough sheet. Chill the re-rolled dough before cutting out the shapes.
Bake in the top third of the oven for 10 to 14 minutes, depending on how large and how thick your cookies are. Adjust baking times to suit your taste.
Allow to cool for a minute or two before removing to wire rack. Cool completely before decorating. They taste best a couple of days after they are made; keep in airtight container, separated with wax paper or parchment paper.
Chef's Note: roll to ¼" thick for soft and chewy or 1/8" for crisp and crunchy. If you are making these to use as decorations, you will need to cut them ¼” thick and cook until crisp, 14 to 16 minutes, or they will be too wobbly to stand up.
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