3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter (room temperature, softened)
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
Optional for decorating: raisins, currants, chocolate chips, candy pieces, frosting
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and spices. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and molasses.
Gradually add the flour mixture; combine on low speed. (You may need to work it with your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour.)
Divide dough into thirds; wrap each third in plastic. Chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Before rolling out, let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes. If after refrigerating the dough feels too soft to roll-out, work in a little more flour.
Heat oven to 350°F. Place a dough third on a large piece of lightly floured parchment paper or wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll dough 1/8 inch thick. Refrigerate again for 5-10 minutes to make it easier to cut out the cookies.
Use either a cookie cutter to cut into desired shapes.
Transfer to un-greased baking sheets. Press raisins, chocolate chips, or candy pieces in the center of each cookie if desired.
Bake at 350°F until crisp but not darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Let sit a few minutes and then use a metal spatula to transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.