Preparation / Directions:
Preparation time: 1 1/2 hours Chilling time: 12 hours or more Cooking time: 7 minutes
1. Put sugar, syrup, water, ginger, cinnamon and cloves into a large saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils and sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add butter. Stir until butter is melted and mixture is no longer very hot.
2. Mix flour and baking soda. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir to blend thoroughly. Dough will have a soft texture. Place dough in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or at least 12 hours or as long as 1 week.
3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove about one-sixth of the dough and knead it until it is slightly softened. Roll dough directly onto ungreased cookie sheets until it is about 1/4-inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to stamp shapes in dough, allowing a 1-inch margin between each cookie. Remove excess dough by lifting it and peeling it away. Scraps of dough can be kneaded together and re-rolled.
4. Bake until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Allow cookies to cool slightly and become crisp before removing them from the cookie sheet. Cool thoroughly on wire racks. If desired, you may "paint" the cooled cookies using a clean, small paintbrush and food coloring that has been watered down slightly. Store cookies in airtight containers. Note: After the 12-hour resting period, this cookie dough can be hand-molded like clay--rolled, pinched, poked and pressed--and it will keep its shape, expanding slightly while baking. Thin cookies will become brown and bake quickly, large and thick shapes will require longer baking. Can be cut into any shape desired but make the cookies uniformly thick. The microwave oven can be used to cook the sugar mixture in step 1.