Makes about 20 cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together the shortening and sugar until smooth with no lumps. Scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure everything is well combined. On low speed, add the egg and the molasses. Scrape the sides of the bowl again. Keep the mixer on low speed and gradually add in the dry ingredients until blended.
The cold shortening is what makes the cookies crispy on the outside but chewy on the inside and keeps them nice and fat, so, working quickly, scoop 2 tablespoon pieces of dough and roll them into balls about the size of a ping-pong ball, roll them in the extra 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and place a few inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake them one cookie sheet at a time for about 18 minutes or until the tops are cracked. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and serve with some Christmas music.