In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat sugar, egg and vanilla until light. Beat in melted, cooled shortening and molasses.
In a separate bowl, mix together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, pepper and pepper.
Stir flour mixture into sugar mixture until thoroughly combined.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop dough and shape into large mounds. Place dough scoops in refrigerator and chill thoroughly for at least 3 hours or chill dough in freezer for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment. Dip dough mounds in crystal sugar (if using) and arrange 5 mounds on each cookie sheet, keeping remaining mounds chilled until ready to bake.
Bake for 15-20 minutes. If cookies seem brown after first 15 minutes, lay a sheet of foil loosely over the top. Let cool for 2-3 minutes on cookie sheet. Cookies will be large, thick, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.