Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Blend until creamy:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup white or brown sugar
1/2 cup dark molasses
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
Add the sifted ingredients to the butter mixture in about three parts, alternately with:
1/4 cup water if you roll the dough, or 1/3 cup if you model it. Decorate with candies, raisins, etc.
Place on a greased pan. Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes or longer, according to their thickness. Test for doneness by pressing the dough with your finger. If it springs back after pressing, they are ready to be cooled on a rack.
The Joy of Cooking suggests a frosting/paste:
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
A few drops of water
You may add: A drop or two of vegetable coloring.
Apply the icing with a wooden pick or a small knife for addition garnishes.
If you don't want to make Gingerbread Men, check out these finds from 1000Markets: