Being one of Santa's elves requires a lot of qualities we admire: industriousness, cooperation, attention to detail, and perhaps most of all, a sense of humor. Says one elf we spoke to: "We work hard all year long. The hours are long, so morale is important. The baker elves (the ones assigned to kitchen duty) know that one sure way to keep their crew happy throughout the holiday season is by serving plenty of these sparkly sugar-topped Snickerdoodles. The name alone just gives us the giggles."
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the shortening and butter. Gradually mix in the sugar. Beat in the egg until blended, then the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon zest.
With a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture half at a time, until evenly mixed. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 30 to 60 minutes.
Shortly before baking heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease one or two large cookie sheets, or line them with parchment paper. Put the decorative sugar into small bowls.
With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into 1-1/2-inch-thick balls. Roll the balls in the colored sugar and place them on the prepared baking sheets spaced about 3 inches apart. Bake the cookies on the center oven rack for 15 to 18 minutes, until they're a light golden brown. Cool the cookies on the sheet for 2 to 3 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes about 24 cookies.