1. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer on medium speed to beat shortening and brown sugar together until light and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add corn syrup and molasses and beat until combined.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves until combined. With mixer on low speed, beat 1 cup of the flour mixture into the shortening and sugar until combined. Repeat until all the flour is incorporated into the dough. The dough will be stiff and crumbly.
3. Remove bowl from mixer; gather dough by hand, kneading and packing it into thirds. Flatten each third into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Set oven rack in top third of oven. Have your pattern pieces ready. (The picture on page 44 offers a suggested pattern.)
5. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out each third between two sheets of baking parchment until just over 1/4 inch thick. Remove top layer of parchment and place pattern pieces over dough, leaving at least 1/2 inch between sections. Cut out sections with a sharp knife or pizza cutter.
6. Peel away dough around sections, using a butter knife or thin metal spatula. Keep sections on parchment and transfer to a baking sheet. If there is excess parchment paper, use scissors to trim. Chill sections for 15 minutes while you roll and cut remaining dough. Place these pieces on a second baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes.
7. Place chilled baking sheet in oven and bake at 375 degrees F for 9 to 11 minutes, until cookie pieces are fragrant and slightly firm, but not browned. Remove from oven. Cookie pieces may spread slightly during baking. While cookies are still hot, place pattern pieces over each cookie and trim where necessary. (Bake one tray at a time, as cookies will harden while they cool, making trimming more difficult. If you're making cookies only, you can bake two trays at a time.)
8. Use a thin spatula to remove cookies from baking sheet. Place on wire racks to cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap if not using immediately (pieces may be frozen for several days) or begin building house.
9. If there's any remaining dough, roll it out 1/4 inch thick and cut out cookies. Repeat baking procedure above.
10. Build gingerbread house. Cover a round or rectangle of cardboard with foil to use as a base. Have Royal Icing prepared. Place 3/4 cup icing in a heavy resealable plastic bag to use as glue. Cover and chill remaining icing until you're ready to decorate. Cut a 1/4-inch diagonal tip off the icing bag's bottom corner.
11. Remove plastic wrap from gingerbread pieces. Glue two end walls to two side walls and end chimney pieces to side chimney pieces, and allow to dry before proceeding. Use icing to secure walls to base. Allow at least 30 minutes for icing to set.
12. Squeeze icing along angled edges of end walls. Place two roof pieces on top of house and glue roof seams together. Brace roof by placing bean or soup cans along bottom edge of roof. Make sure roof is completely dry before proceeding. Allow 30 minutes to an hour, or even overnight if you have time, as the roof will be carrying a lot of weight with the chimney and all the decorations.
13. Position chimney on roof and glue it into place. Allow to set 30 minutes.
14. Decorate! Tint remaining icing with food coloring as desired and place each color in a separate heavy resealable plastic bag. Trim 1/4 inch off corner of each bag so you ca