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My Aunt Jo Ann has been making these gingerbread cookies for family gatherings as long as I can remember and as soon as it starts to look like fall I fill (and refill!) the cookie jar with them.
The recipe is pretty simple. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, then add one jar of molasses, a cup of dark brown sugar, one third cup of oil (either vegetable or extra light olive), two thirds cup water, 6 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking soda, and one teaspoon of each of salt, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and ginger together in a bowl.

Mix, mix, mix.

The dough will be soft and sticky, so form it into a ball the best you can while it is in the bowl.  Turn it onto a well floured board and continue to work it just until it holds together well.
Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a circle that is one half inch thick.  Be generous with the flour while rolling it out so that it doesn't stick to your board.  Use cookie cutters to make your cookies.  Circles, hearts and stars are the tradition in our family!  

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until there is no fingerprint when gently pressed.  When in doubt, err on the side of underbaking.  These are soft cookies, and something that seems a bit underbaked fresh out of the oven will most likely be perfect when cool.  

While the cookies are cooling, beat 4 tablespoons of softened butter, a bag of powdered sugar, a bit of vanilla and a few tablespoons of milk together to make frosting.  This seems like a lot of frosting, but the cookie recipe yields 48 cookies, and you want that frosting to be thick on each one.  Don't be skimpy!

These can, of course, be eaten right away, but for some reason they really taste best on the second day.  Just make sure to store them in a sealed container to keep them fresh.

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