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Cookies Perfect To Leave Out For Santa

Want to get on Santa's good side?

How 'bout taking part in the holiday tradition of leaving cookies out for him to munch on?!

But the store-bought variety just won't cut it.

So, on The Early Show on Christmas Eve Day, Katie Lee Joel shared some of her favorite recipes, for Christmas wreath cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti, and Cookies-and-Cream Truffles.

RECIPES

Christmas Wreath Cookies

These are always a hit with the kids. Allow them to put their own creative touch on each one by positioning the red hots!

3/4 cup butter
1 (16 ounce) bag marshmallows
7 cups corn flakes
Green food coloring
Blue food coloring
Red hots

Melt butter in pan. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Add food coloring until mixture is a nice "holly" green. Remove from heat and pour over corn flakes in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly. On wax paper, form wreath-shaped cookies and decorate with red hots to look like berries. Butter your fingers before forming wreaths, so the marshmallow won't stick to your hands.

Mexican Wedding Cookies

Katie and her Great Aunt used to make these every Christmas. They literally melt in your mouth, and while she's using ground pecans, you can personalize it with your favorite nut -- almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts.

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pecans, finely ground

In a bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and 1/2 cup sugar. Add vanilla. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Add pecans and mix well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from refrigerator and roll into 1-inch balls and place on prepared sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

Put remaining 2 cups sugar in a large bowl. Add cookies to sugar and roll to coat. Let sit 15 minutes and roll in sugar again.

Cookies-and-Cream Truffles

One of Katie's weaknesses is a tall glass of milk and a box of Oreo cookies. These cookies-and-cream truffles are like little bite-size Oreo cheesecakes. Santa won't be able to resist!

Yield: 50 truffles

15 Oreo cookies
One 8-ounce package cream cheese
18 ounces white chocolate
1 to 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, for dusting

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse until the cookies become fine crumbs. Add the cream cheese and pulse just until mixed. Using a melon baller or a teaspoon measure, scoop the cookie mixture into small balls. Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with plastic and place in the freezer and freeze the cookies until firm, about 1 hour.

Melt white chocolate in the top of a double boiler, or according to package instructions. Dip the cookie balls into the melted chocolate using a wooden skewer or fork and place back on the baking sheet. Place the cocoa powder in a fine-mesh sieve and dust the truffles lightly with cocoa. Cover the baking sheet with plastic and place back in the freezer and freeze the truffles until firm, about 1 hour. Serve cold and store in the freezer.

Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

Leave a few for Santa and save the rest for Christmas Day! Have them with your morning coffee or after dinner for a sweet fix that won't put you over the edge.

Yield: 45 to 50 biscotti

INGREDIENTS:
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Using a handheld electric mixer, in a large mixing bowl beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating each egg fully before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla. Gently stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Stir in cranberries and pistachios.

Cut dough in half and shape into two logs 12 inches long, 2½ inches wide, and 1 inch high. Bake until just starting to brown at the edges, about 35 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets. Leave the oven turned on.

While the logs are still warm, cut each log into ½-inch-wide slices on the diagonal. Place the slices back on the baking sheet (use 2 baking sheets if necessary to fit all the slices). Bake for 7 to 8 minutes. Remove the baking sheets from the oven. Turn the biscotti over and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, until the biscotti are crisp. Let the biscotti cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet(s). Serve when cooled to room temperature, or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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