Add molasses and shortening to a saucepan. Heat on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar, egg and vanilla with an electric mixer or Danish dough hook.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Pour into sugar/egg mixture and stir.
Add cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Stir.
Add hot molasses mixture and stir well.
Beat in flour.
Allow dough to cool completely. You can speed this up by placing the bowl of dough (covered in plastic wrap) in the refrigerator for 15 mintues.
Roll dough out to 1/4-1/2" thick. Cut with cookie cutters.
Bake cookies on an ungreased (or parchment paper lined) baking sheet at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool a few minutes then transfer cookies to cool on wire rack.