Mix: Sift 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon each baking soda and salt, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon each ground cloves and allspice into a bowl. In another bowl, mix 6 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon melted shortening, 2/3 cup light brown sugar and 3/4 cup molasses; beat in 1 egg with a mixer. Beat in the flour mixture in two additions. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic and pat to 1/2 inch thick. Chill 2 hours.
Cut: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to 1/4 inch thick, dusting with flour, if needed. Cut into 3-to-5-inch gingerbread men and arrange 1 inch apart on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Brush off excess flour and chill 15 minutes.
Bake: Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack and cool, then decorate with Royal Icing.
Royal Icing: Sift 2 tablespoons meringue powder (found in the baking aisle or at crafts stores) and 1 pound confectioners' sugar into a large bowl. Beat in 6 tablespoons water with a mixer until glossy with soft peaks. Tint with food coloring, if desired.
To Draw: Transfer the icing to a resealable plastic bag; snip the tip of one corner. For dots, hold the bag at a 90 degree angle. For outlines, hold it at a 45 degree angle. Pipe onto the cooled cookies.
To Fill: Draw an outline with the icing, then thin the icing with milk or water until it's the consistency of glue and spread inside the outline with a paintbrush.