If you really want to impress Santa this year, be sure to try these two cookie recipes! Who knows, he might even leave something extra under the tree for you!

Nanaimo Bars

PG tested

For bottom layer:

  • 1⁄2 cup butter
  • 1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1⁄4 granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For middle layer:

  • 1⁄4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk or cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant vanilla pudding powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For topping:

  • 4 1-ounce squares semisweet chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Lightly grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan.

Make bottom layer: Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Remove pan from heat and stir in cocoa powder and sugar, mixing until smooth. Return pan to heat and add the egg, whishing until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat and stir in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts and vanilla. Mix well. Dump this mixture into the prepared pan and press it evenly in a layer on the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 minute.

Make middle layer: In large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until creamy. Add icing sugar, milk or cream, pudding powder and vanilla, and beat until mixture is very smooth and creamy. Spread over chilled bottom layer, smoothing the top as much as possible. Return to refrigerator until firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Make topping: Chop chocolate into pieces and place in a small saucepan with butter. Place over low heat, stirring just until smooth and melted. Working very quickly, pour melted chocolate over the creamy layer and spread it out as evenly and smoothly as possible. You don’t’ want the warm chocolate to melt the icing mixture, so you’ll have to be a little careful here. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate just until the chocolate is set.

To serve, cut into small squares with a very sharp knife. Once cut, Nanaimo Bars should be allowed to chill in the pan until completely firm before removing them to a plate.

Makes 25 to 36 squares.

— “The Clueless Baker” by Evely Raab (Firefly, Sept. 2013, $16.95)

Carmelita Bars

PG tested

For caramel:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons corn syrup
  • 1 cup heavy cream

For crust:

  • Butter for the pan, at room temperature
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 2⁄3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 3⁄4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Make caramel: Stir granulated sugar, water and corn syrup together in a heavy saucepan over high heat until sugar has dissolved. Boil, without stirring, occasionally rotating the pan by the handle to swirl the syrup and washing down any crystals that form on the sides of pan with a natural bristle brush dipped in cold water, until syrup is smoking and the color of old copper, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low.Add cream (it will bubble up, so be careful!) and stir until caramel is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool until tepid and thickened, about 1 hour.

Make crust: Position a rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 13-by-9-inch baking pan.

Whisk the oats, flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl, Stir in the melted butter and water until the oat mixture is moistened. Transfer about one-fourth of the mixture to a bowl; set aside. Transfer the remainder into the prepared pan and press it firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from oven. Spread the caramel over the crust. Sprinkle the chocolate chips and walnuts evenly over the caramel. Crumble the reserved oat mixture, as evenly as possible, over the top. Return to the oven and bake until the topping is barely golden brown, about 15 minutes. The chocolate chips should not be completely melted.

Let cool completely in the pan on a wire cooling rack. Run a dinner knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the bars. Using a sharp knife, cut into 18 bars. The cookiescan be stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes 18 bars.

— “The Model Bakery Cookbook” by Karen Mitchell and Sarah Mitchell Hansen with Rick Rodgers (Chronicle, Oct. 2013, $35)

Watch & Listen LIVE