¾ cup butter, softened
¾ cup packed brown sugar
⅔ cup molasses
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp finely ground black pepper (optional)
In a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and molasses until fluffy (about two minutes). Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, spices, baking soda and salt until combined. With the mixer on low, gradually add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, as well as black pepper (if using) until the dough just comes together. Do not over mix!
Divide dough in half and create two discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about three hours.
Preheat oven to 350° and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and roll until one-quarter of an inch thick. Cut out gingerbread men with a three-inch wide cutter and transfer to baking sheets.
Bake until slightly puffed and set — nine to 10 minutes — depending on the size of your cookie cutters. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining disc of dough. Decorate and enjoy!