Wondering how to tempt Jolly old saint Nick down the chimney?
Hint: Appeal to his sweet tooth.

It's no secret that the trick to keeping Santa happy is to set out a plate of warm, homemade cookies for him. But what is the best cookie for the job? Always looking for a good excuse to eat, we at American Way decided to hold a cookie bake-off to find out. We had 25 entries in all (who knew we had such an avid bunch of bakers on staff?), and after each and every one was tasted, we ended up with not one favorite cookie, but five. And because we want Santa to be nice to our readers, we are sharing the winning recipes with you. So, whether you've been naughty or nice this year, try one (or all) of these recipes, and you'll be sure to get everything on your list.

Ranger Cookies
Submitted by Tommie Long, editorial assistant
(Recipe given to her by a close friend 35 years ago) 

2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 cups coconut
4 cups oatmeal
4 cups Post Toasties

Preheat oven to 375°. Cream shortening and sugars; add eggs, vanilla, and then dry ingredients. Beat well. Add coconut and oatmeal, and beat well. Lightly fold in Post Toasties. Drop onto baking sheet, and bake till golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Makes 9 dozen.

Chocolate Mint Marvels
Submitted by Chris Wessling, senior editor
(From his mother Mary Ann Wessling's recipe)

¾ cup butter
1½ cups brown sugar
2 cups chocolate chips
2 eggs
2½ cups flour
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
3 or 4 packages of Andes mints

Preheat oven to 350°. Melt butter and brown sugar in saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate chips and stir to melt; put mixture into a bowl and let cool. Add eggs, and then mix in flour and baking soda. Chill dough for 1 hour. Roll into balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for 9 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and place an Andes mint on each one. As the candy melts, spread it across the top of the cookie with a butter knife. Makes 3 dozen.

Sinful Oatmeal Cookies
Submitted by Lana Ader, editorial assistant
(A spiced-up version of the recipe on the Hershey's Cinnamon Chips package)

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups all-purpose flour
2½ cups quick-cooking oatmeal
1 ten-ounce package Hershey's Cinnamon Chips
1 cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350°. Beat butter and both sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla until well blended. Combine soda with flour, and mix into the butter mixture. Stir in the oatmeal, and then add the chips, raisins, and nuts. Batter will be thick. Drop onto parchment-lined baking sheet by heaping teaspoonfuls and bake 10 to 12 minutes. Makes 4 dozen.