Next, we measure all the ingredients. We scoop the flour with a spoon into the dry measuring cup and level it off on a piece of wax paper. The measured flour gets dumped into a fine strainer that is above a large piece of parchment paper. We repeat with the second cup of flour and dump the measured flour into the strainer. The extra flour that is on the wax paper we put back into the flour container with the help of the the wax paper. We add the salt, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper to the flour in the strainer. Using our mortar and pestle, we pound the whole cloves as fine as we can. We want a good sized pinch of ground cloves (we do not have this spice on hand, only whole cloves.) We add the ground cloves to the strainer. We shake the strainer over the large piece of parchment to sift the dry ingredients.
We place the softened butter into the bowl of our KitchenAid stand-up mixer. We put on the paddle and start creaming the butter. We want it light and fluffy. We time it for 1.5 minutes and then stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with our rubber spatula. We turn on the machine again and time it for another 1.5 minutes. We stop the machine and add the brown sugar, crumbling it into the bowl with our hands. We turn on the machine and beat it for another timed minute. We scrape down the bowl and beat it again for another minute. We stop the machine and carefully get the flour mixture. We turn on the machine to stir and slowly add the flour, a little at a time. When we have added about half of the flour, we put down the flour mixture, turn off the machine, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. We turn it onto low speed again and add the rest of the flour. When the flour is just incorporated, we turn off the mixer.
We remove the bowl from the mixer and, using the spatula, we dump the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap. We use the plastic wrap to pull the dough together and then flatten it into a 1/2 inch thick squarish shape. We cover the dough well with more plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
We begin preheating the oven to 325 degrees. We remove the chilled dough from the fridge. We flatten it slightly with our hands since it is not evenly 1/2 inch thick (we keep checking with a ruler). We use our 2.5 to 3 inch cookie cutters and we cut out snowmen and christmas trees. As we make a cookie, we sprinkle it with the coarse sugar on one side and then place it on a large dinner plate, sugar side up. When we no longer can make another cookie, we push the scraps together and reflatten it into a 1/2 inch thick piece. We keep doing this until we make 16 cookies and we only have a tiny bit of dough left (ok, we eat some of the dough! it is good and has no raw eggs!). When all the cookies are sprinkled with sugar on one side, we place half of them on a parchment covered cookie sheet and bake in the oven and the rest are covered and refrigerated to be baked in the next batch. The shape holds better when it has been chilled for about 30 minutes but the first batch looks fine enough.
We bake the cookies until we can smell them and they are firm, about 35 minutes. We cool them on wire racks and then store them in an airtight container.