3 ¾ cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ cup molasses
sugar icing (recipe follows)

Sift flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, ginger, cinnamon, cloves onto wax paper.

Beat butter, sugar, egg and molasses in a large bowl with electric mixer until fluffy-light. Stir in flour mixture until well blended. Wrap dough in plastic wrap or foil; refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Roll out dough, 1/3 at a time, on a lightly floured surface to a ¼ inch thickness. Cut out with floured large Christmas tree cutter. Brush off excess flour; place cookies on lightly greased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough. Gather up scraps for second rolling.

Bake in a moderate over (350 degrees) for 8 minutes, or until edges are browned. Let cookies cool a few minutes on cookie sheets. Remove to wire racks with a spatula; cool completely. Dip small clean brush into sugar icing and “paint” cookies. Spring with colored sugars.

SUGAR ICING: Combine 1 package (1 pound) 10x sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1/3 cup water in a medium-sized bowl; stir until smooth. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until icing is spoonable and flows easily from a spoon. Makes about 2 cups.

Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes

Makes 3 dozen cookies