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Gingerbread Straws

Makes 56 cookies

I love everything about these cookies — their intense ginger flavor, their long slender shape and their impressive calorie count. If you prefer wafers, you can use cookie cutters as well.

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra if necessary

1 tablespoon ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) softened butter

1 cup light or dark brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Mix flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, mix molasses and water.

Beat butter and brown sugar with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses mixture and then dry ingredients, adding additional flour if needed to form stiff dough. Quarter the dough, forming each portion into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about an hour. (Can be refrigerated up to one week or frozen up to one month.)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Working with one portion of dough at a time on a heavily floured work surface, roll into a 9- by 7-inch rectangle. Sprinkle dough with 1 tablespoon of sugar, and use the rolling pin to press sugar into dough. Use a pastry wheel (preferably with a fluted edge) to cut dough into approximate 9- by 1/2-inch sticks. Place sticks about 1/2-inch apart on a parchment- or silpat-lined cookie sheet.

Bake until fragrant and crisp, 18 to 22 minutes, rotating each sheet from back to front and switching rack positions after 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool to room temperature. (Can be stored in a tin for two weeks.)

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