2 cups all purpose flour
1½ t ground cinnamon
1½ t ground ginger
½ t ground cardamom
½ t ground cloves
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
3 to 5 T hot water
½ t baking soda
Place flour, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and cloves in medium bowl; stir to combine.
Beat brown sugar and butter in large bowl with electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down side of bowl once. Place water and baking soda in cup; stir until baking soda dissolves. Beat into butter mixture. Gradually add flour mixture. Beat at low speed until dough forms, scraping down side of bowl once. (IF dough is too crumbly, add more water, 1 T at a time, until dough holds together)
Form dough into 2 discs; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease cookie sheets; set aside.
Working with 1 disc at a time unwrap dough and place on lightly floured surface. roll out dough with lightly floured rolling pin to 1/8" thickness.
Cut dough with floured 3" pig shaped cookie cutter. Place cutouts 1" apart on prepared cookie sheets.
Gently press dough trimmings together; reroll and cut out more cookies (Rerolled dough will produce slightly tougher cookies than first rolling)
Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until firm and lightly browned. Remove cookies iwth spatula to wire racks; cool completely.
Prepare Royal Icing. Spoon Icing into pastry bag fitted with writing tip. Decorate cooled cookies with icing. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until set.
Store tightly covered at room temperature or freeze up to 3 months.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
1 egg white at room temperature*
2 to 2½ cups sifted powedered sugar
½ t almond extract
Beat egg white in small bowl with electric mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add 2 cups powdered sugar and almond extract. Beat at low speed until moistened. Increase mixer speed to high and beat until icing is stiff.