In honor of National Cookie Day - these cookies have been made by several friends after I shared the recipe and dubbed "the best Snickerdoodles EVER". Do not substitute ingredients - the pork lard is the secret and the Vietnamese cinnamon and Vanilla Sugar (both from Penzy's) worth a mail order purchase (the Vanilla sugar is really good in coffee and tea, as well)
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda (make sure the baking soda is fresh, To test - baking soda should bubble when added to vinegar, baking powder should bubble when added to hot water - if they don't it is time for new ones, it DOES make a difference in your baking).
2 tsp cream of tartar (in the spice section at the store)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 teaspoon Penzey's Mexican vanilla
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup pork lard, at room temperature
1 and 3/4 cups sugar, separated into 1 and 1/2 cups and 1/4 cup
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 Tablespoon Penzey's vanilla sugar
1 heaping Tablespoon Penzey's Vietnamese cinnamon
Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Use more than one, giving the pan time to cool down between batches so the cookies don't spread too much.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Rack should be in the center of the oven (yeah, the only rack I saw today.)
Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt in bowl.
With a mixer set on medium-high speed, beat butter, lard, 1 1/2 cups sugar (that will leave you with 1/4 cup of regular sugar) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each, until combined.
Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture gradually, mixing until just combined.
Combine cinnamon, remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1 Tablespoon vanilla sugar (also from Penzey's) in a wide cereal or soup bowl.
For regular sized cookies: Roll dough into 1 and a half inch balls with moistened hands (to prevent sticking), flattening the top just slightly. Toss in cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat, then place 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake each sheet separately until edges are light golden brown and centers are look puffy and soft, but still slightly underdone, 10-12 minutes, rotating each sheet halfway through baking. Remove from oven and let set five minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.
I made jumbo cookies so I more than doubled the size, placed an extra two inches apart on the pan and baked a few extra minutes (watching carefully).
Ovens vary quite a bit. I'd suggest doing one or two test cookies on a small, shallow pan to get your cooking time down.