He's making a list of baking ingredients
A sugar cookie with buttercream frosting, a peppermint Oreo, a heavenly piece shortbread cookie and a brownie from Dippidee in American Fork are perfect cookies for Christmas. Photo taken Monday, December 14, 2009. ASHLEY FRANSCELL/Daily Herald

After making a list and checking it twice, Santa Claus is likely in need of some serious refreshment.

Everyone knows the Jolly Old Soul loves cookies on Christmas Eve. Instead of using the same cookie-cutter recipe year after year, consider whipping up a batch of gourmet delights that will knock off Saint Nick's socks. (And probably impress his reindeer, too).

We asked Beehive bakers and bloggers what cookies they were leaving out for Santa. Here are their suggestions, just in the Nick of time.

Minty fresh

Incorporating seasonal tastes is one way to give an all-star recipe the star treatment. Peppermint patties, crushed candy canes or Andes chocolate morsels thrown into a basic chocolate chip recipe add a fresh, minty flavor. Mixing in peppermint extract -- about a teaspoon or so per batch of two-dozen cookies -- is another festive option. To make the recipe even more rich, use fudge dough made with unsweetened cocoa powder.

Carol Coppins, owner of Flour Girls & Dough Boys in American Fork, will be leaving out her bakery's Santa Peppermint Chunk Cookies on Christmas Eve.

"It is a cookie with an especially festive flavor," Coppins said. "It has white chocolate chips and peppermint chunks in a chocolate chip cookie dough."

Buy it

Don't have time to make a batch before Christmas? Pick some up at Flour Girls & Dough Boys. Cookies are $1.29 apiece or $13.50 per mix-and-match dozen. 35 N. Barratt Avenue, American Fork, (801) 763-9232.

Bake it

Chocolate Chip Peppermint Cookies

• ¾ cup butter

• ½ cup white sugar

• ½ cup packed brown sugar

• 1 egg

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

• 1½ cups all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

• 1 teaspoon baking soda

• ¼ teaspoon salt

• 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. In a large bowl, cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, then stir in vanilla and peppermint extracts. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Mix in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

-- Recipe courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Mighty molasses

Molasses is another taste of the Christmas season, although people may not know it. Made by processing sugar cane into sugar, molasses comes in three grades: mild, dark and blackstrap. The first two grades are commonly used in baking gingerbread and gingersnaps, as well as other seasonal treats.

Krista Loertscher, the Salt Lake City blogger behind DoubleDippedLife.blogspot.com, makes a mean molasses cookie that she is planning on leaving out for Santa.

"My husband has declared them his new favorite cookie," said Loertscher, a mother of three. "They are really soft, unlike most gingersnaps, and they are also moist."

A college friend who called them Ginger Cookies introduced the baking aficionado to the recipe. Loertscher thought the name was deceiving, because the cookies have one teaspoon of ginger but a half-cup of molasses. So she renamed them "Molasses Cookies."

"For these cookies I use light molasses," Loertscher said. "I find the dark molasses to be a little more tangy, so it just depends how pronounced you like the molasses to be. You can't really taste the ginger."

Soft and thick, these cookies should tickle Saint Nick's fancy.

Buy it

You may not find soft molasses cookies at a bakery, but most are sure to have gingersnaps, a crispier cousin. Shirley's Homemades bakery in Provo sells them individually for $.69 a cookie or $6.99 per dozen. 684 N. Freedom Boulevard, Provo. (801) 375-8020

Bake it

Molasses Cookies

• 1½ cup shortening

• 2 cup sugar

• ½ cup molasses

• 2 eggs

• 1 t. cloves

• ½ t. salt

• 4 t. baking soda

• 1 t. ginger

• 2 t. cinnamon

• 4 cups flour

• Sugar to coat

Cream shortening and sugar together. Add molasses and eggs, mix well. Add in all dry ingredients and mix until combined. Shape into small balls and roll in a bowl of sugar.

Bake at 350 for 8 minutes. The cookies will not appear to be done at 8 minutes. Resist cooking them longer. Leave them on the cookie sheet for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a rack.

-- Recipe courtesy of Krista Loertscher, DoubleDippedLife. blogspot.com

Double dipped

Homemade Oreos are a hit with any age group. Santa is surely no exception.

Made with rich chocolate dough and filled with creamy vanilla filling, homemade Oreos are softer and more satisfying than their from-the-grocery-store-shelf counterparts. Dippidee in American Fork is selling homemade Oreos with a twist for the holidays. The to-die-for cookies are dipped in milk chocolate and then rolled in candy canes.

"These are a favorite at my house, especially with the men in the house because they are just fanatics about the homemade Oreos," said Liz Worthen, store manager. "It just gives them a little bit of oomph when you add the peppermint to it."

Buy it

Head down to Dippidee to sample the generously sized cookies. Sold for $1.99 each or buy a baker's dozen and receive a 13th cookie free. 476 N. 900 West, Suite D., American Fork. (801) 756-4383

Bake it

Semi-Homemade Oreo Cookies

• 1 package Devil's Food cake mix

• 2 eggs

• ½ cup oil (or butter-flavored shortening)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Add oil and eggs to cake mix and blend together. Roll dough into balls just larger than a quarter. Try to keep the size uniform. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly on sheet. Remove cookies from sheet and place on cooling rack. To assemble the cookies, add about a tablespoon of filling into the center of one cookie. Top with another cookie and press lightly.

Vanilla Cream Filling

• ¼ cup (½ stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter

• ¼ cup vegetable shortening

• 2 to 3 cups sifted confectioner's sugar

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream butter and shortening together. Add vanilla extract and confectioner's sugar slowly until you reach your desired consistency.

Triple threat

It's safe to assume that Santa isn't watching his calories. And if he is, well, decadent triple chocolate cookies are a perfect diet-killer.

Holly Hanks of the food blog Phe/MOM/enon adapted her Triple Threat Cookies from a chocolate chunk cookie originally found on the Food Network. Hanks added cocoa powder to make a fudge base, as well as pralines and white chocolate chunks.

"This is my version of a death by chocolate cookie," said Hanks, who blogs at phemomenon.blogspot.com. "And when it is my time to go, this is how I hope to go out."

Buy it

While Hanks doesn't have a bakery of her own, Smart Cookie in American Fork sells double-chocolate fudge, white chocolate fudge and mint chocolate fudge cookies. Individual cookies are $.75 each and sets of four are available for $2.50. Smart Cookie Company, 743 W. 100 North, American Fork. (801) 492-1711

Bake it

Triple Threat Chocolate Praline Cookies

• ¾ cup unsalted butter

• ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

• ¾ cup sugar

• 2 large eggs

• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

• 6-ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

• 6-ounces white chocolate, chopped into chunks

• 4-ounces chopped praline pieces or toasted pecans

• 2¼ cups all-purpose flour

• ¼ cup cocoa powder

• ¾ teaspoon baking soda

• ¾ teaspoon fine salt

Evenly position two racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets. (If you only have one baking sheet, let it cool completely between batches.) Put the butter in a microwave safe bowl, cover and microwave on medium power until melted. (Alternatively melt in a small saucepan.) Cool slightly. Whisk the sugars, eggs, butter and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Whisk the flour, baking soda, cocoa and salt in another bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a wooden spoon; take care not to over mix. Stir in both kinds of chocolate chunks and the praline (or toasted pecans) pieces. Scoop heaping tablespoons of the dough onto the prepared pans. Wet hands slightly and roll the dough into balls. Space the cookies about 2-inches apart on the pans. Bake, until golden, but still soft in the center, 11 to 16 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you like your cookies. Transfer hot cookies with a spatula to a rack to cool. Store cookies in a tightly sealed container for up to 5 days.

-- Recipe courtesy of Holly Hanks, www.phemomenon.blogspot.com

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