For the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray the cupcake tins with nonstick spray and line with cupcake liners.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt, cloves and pepper. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed, cream the molasses, sugar, butter, and orange zest until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla on low speed one by one. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture at low speed and mix until just incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer. Whisk together the milk and baking soda and fold into the cupcake batter.
Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool, about 15 minutes. Unmold and cool completely before frosting.
For the black licorice frosting: Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat.
Place the 7 ounces of chopped licorice in a small heat-proof bowl with 4 ounces of water. Place over the pot of hot water, lower to a simmer. Stir until the licorice looks like thin smooth paste.
Whisk together the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer. Bring the pot of water back to a boil, lower to simmer, and place the bowl of sugar and eggs on top. Clip an instant-read thermometer and whisk until the thermometer reads 160 degrees F.
Remove the pot from the heat, place the bowl on the mixer with the whip attachment, whip on high speed until very thick, 5 to 6 minutes. Continue whipping while adding 1 tablespoon at a time of butter. Add the salt (you can add the salt before you start adding the eggs). The frosting will be thick and fluffy.
Add the softened licorice paste, one tablespoon at a time until all is incorporated. The frosting will have tiny licorice flecks - don't be scared, its suppose to look that way.
Frost the cupcakes once they are completely cool. Place licorice pieces on top. Store at room temperature in an air-tight container. These are best eaten the same day, but no more than 2 days.
Recipe courtesy of Hedy Goldsmith