Christmas morning is just a week away. And that means Santa, Mrs. Claus, the elves and all the reindeer are fast at work at the North Pole checking Santa’s list, making sure the sleigh is in good working order and putting the final touches on all the toys and other gifts.
To say thank you, and to make sure Santa and his reindeer have plenty of energy to complete the ’round-the world trip, it is tradition to leave a little something out for Santa.
We recently took an informal poll of friends and extended family inquiring their favorite or traditional snack to leave for Santa and his reindeer on Christmas Eve. Though the vast majority answered milk and cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, a few responses were unexpected. Which got us thinking Santa might appreciate a break from the same old same old.
Maybe the jolly fellow, from time to time, likes a handful of roasted nuts and a diet Coke to wash them down. Or maybe it’s cheesecake that really puts the sparkle in his eye. And if Christmas Eve is really cold, we’re sure he’d appreciate a mug of hot cocoa.
We can’t speak for Santa, but this mash-up of Snickerdoodles and Gingersnaps is our new favorite cookie. We like the name Gingerdoodles, but you could call them Snickersnaps, Gingersnickers or Doodlesnaps, if you like.
For the snickerdoodle dough:
½ cup shortening
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided use
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the gingersnap dough:
¾ cup shortening
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup molasses
1 teaspoon very finely minced fresh ginger
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
To make the snickerdoodle dough: In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar and cinnamon.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating until combined. Dough will be a little crumbly.
To make the gingersnap dough: In a mixing bowl, beat shortening and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the molasses, egg and minced ginger and beat until well combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and ground ginger.
Add to egg mixture and mix until thoroughly combined. Dough will be a little crumbly.
Doughs can be refrigerated up to 24 hours at this point. (Let chilled dough stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes before shaping and baking.) To assemble and bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper; set aside.
In a small, shallow dish, combine the ¼ cup granulated sugar with the 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon and ½ teaspoon ground ginger.
Pinch off about 1 teaspoon of each dough and roll or lightly knead doughs together into a ball. Roll ball in sugar-cinnamon-ginger.
Repeat with remaining dough. Place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and crinkly on top. Cool cookies on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 48 cookies.
Recipe adapted from ayearofcookies.blogspot.com and buddingbaketress.blogspot.comAlmost No-Bake Peanut Butter Marshmallow Cheesecake Bars
For the crust:
1½ cups finely crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (from about 20 cookies) such as Oreos
¼ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
For the peanut butter layer:
1½ cups peanut butter
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar
For the cheesecake layer:
10 ounces marshmallow fluff
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8-inch square baking dish with parchment paper, leaving overhang on two opposite sides.
In a food processor, pulse cookies to fine crumbs.
Combine cookie crumbs, melted butter and granulated sugar and press mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Cool completely.
In a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Spread peanut butter mixture over cooled cookie crust.
In a mixing bowl, beat the marshmallow fluff and cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy. Spread cream cheese mixture over the peanut butter layer. Refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours, before cutting into squares.
Store in the refrigerator.
Recipe inspired by thehopelesshousewife.com
Bourbon or other whiskey gives these chocolate chip cookies a wonderful nuanced flavor with deep, rich vanilla notes and a subtle smoky flavor, but they are still good made without alcohol.
Bourbon Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup PLUS 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (see notes)
6 tablespoons bourbon (see notes)
1 1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup chopped toasted pecans or walnuts, optional (see notes)
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, scraping bowl as necessary.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed to incorporate. On low speed, add the bourbon 1 tablespoon at a time, beating for about 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the bowl as necessary.
On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until well incorporated, then fold in the chocolate chips and nuts, if using. The dough will be dense, but pliable. Cover and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or line a large baking dish with parchment paper or lightly grease with butter. Let dough stand at room temperature while oven heats.
To bake as cookies: Drop generous tablespoons of the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the dough at least 2 inches apart. Bake about 13 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through; the cookies should be browned on the edges.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely before serving or storing.
To bake as bars: Press dough evenly in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Bake 18 to 25 minutes or until set on top and beginning to brown around the edges. Cool in pan for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into squares.
Notes: If preparing without alcohol, increase vanilla to 1 tablespoon.
If using nuts, reduce chocolate chips to ¾ cup.
Recipe adapted from The Washington Post and Chocolate Chip Cookies: Dozens of Recipes for Reinterpreted Favorites by Carey Jones and Robyn Lenzi (Chronicle, 2013)
These bacon and cayenne-flavored peanuts would make a nice savory treat for Mr. Claus.
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 cups roasted, salted peanuts
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)
In a 12-inch skillet, cook bacon on medium heat until browned and crisp, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes.
Drain, discarding fat. Return bacon to skillet and add the peanuts, sugar and cayenne;
stir to combine. Cook on medium heat, stirring, until nuts are lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Makes about 2 ½ cups.
Recipe adapted from The Good Housekeeping Christmas Cookbook
Santa’s Special Hot Cocoa
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup hot water
1 ½ cups milk
Combine cocoa and sugar in a saucepan and slowly add hot water. Stir until ingredients are blended together. Bring mixture to a boil and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat and add milk, stirring occasionally until mixture is heated thoroughly. Do not boil. Remove from heat and stir well. Serve garnished with marshmallows and a candy cane. Makes 2 to 3 servings.
Recipe adapted from justapinch.com
Carrots are always a good option for Santa’s reindeer, but for something extra special, consider this nourishing mixture of oats, peanuts, raisins and sprinkles. Scatter the mixture on your front lawn; what the reindeer don’t eat, the neighborhood birds and squirrels surely will.
2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups unsalted roasted peanuts
½ cup raisins
2 tablespoons coarse, colored decorating sugar OR colored candy sprinkles
Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Makes 4 ½ cups.