Start to finish: 2½ hours (1½ hours active, including decorating)
Makes about 24 cookies
For the cookies:
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¾ cup (1½ sticks) unsalted butter
¾ cup light or dark brown sugar
¾ cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon allspice or ground cloves
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
3½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 egg white
For the icing:
4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
¼ cup light corn syrup
½ cup hot water
1 cup white chocolate pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Food coloring (white, black and orange work well)
Various icing pens or sugar decorations
3- to 4-inch Halloween cookie cutters
24 8-inch lollipop sticks
Rimmed baking pans
Wire cooling rack
Melt the butter, then stir in the sugar, molasses, salt and spices. Transfer the mixture to a medium-size mixing bowl, let it cool to lukewarm, then beat in the egg.
In a large bowl, whisk the baking powder and soda into the flour, then stir these dry ingredients into the molasses mixture. Divide the dough in half and wrap well in plastic. Refrigerate for one hour or longer.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Take one piece of dough from the refrigerator and place between two sheets of parchment paper. Roll out to about ¼- to ª-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of parchment and use the cookie cutter to cut out cookies; leave them in place.
Lightly beat the egg white in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to coat one half of 12 of the lollipop sticks with egg white, then arrange them evenly spaced on two baking sheets (6 sticks per sheet).
One at a time, transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, placing each so that it rests on top of the egg-coated half of a lollipop stick. Use your fingers to gently press the cookie over the stick; do not press hard.
Bake just until the cookies are slightly brown at the edges and feel firm, about eight to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough and sticks.
While the cookies are cooling, prepare the icing. Sift the powdered sugar into a large bowl, then whisk in the corn syrup and hot water, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
In a saucepan set over very low heat, or in a double boiler or the microwave, melt the white chocolate, stirring until smooth. Add the melted chocolate to the sugar mixture, then add the vanilla and color. The icing will be smooth and fluid. The icing is easiest to work with, and coats smoothly, at about 100 degrees. Keep it warm and covered, laying a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap on the surface to keep it from drying out and forming lumps.
To ice the cookies, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. With the cookies still on it, set one of the wire cooling racks over the baking sheet.
Using a spoon or spatula to control the flow, slowly pour the icing over the cookies. The icing should drape over the cookies, covering them with a thick coating. Excess will drip off into the baking sheet.
Let the cookies dry for a minute or two, then drizzle additional icing as needed for even coverage. Let the cookies set for several minutes, then pick up by the sticks and transfer to a clean sheet of parchment paper.
If decorating with candies or sugar decorations, add while the icing is still wet. Otherwise, let them dry to the touch, then use icing pens to decorate.