Chocolate Reindeer Cookies


* 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar

* 3/4 cup butter, cubed

* 2 tablespoons water

* 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

* 2 eggs

* 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

* 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

* 1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda

* 1/2 teaspoon salt

* Miniature pretzels

* Red shoestring licorice, cut into 1-inch pieces

* 1 can chocolate frosting (16 ounces)

* M&M's miniature baking bits, cherry sour balls and nonpareil-coated chocolate candies


* In a large saucepan over low heat, cook the brown sugar, butter and water until butter is melted. Remove from the heat; stir in chocolate chips until smooth. Cool for 5 minutes. Stir in eggs and extract. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; fold into chocolate mixture.

* Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto baking sheets; cover and freeze until firm. Transfer frozen cookie dough balls to a large resealable plastic freezer bag. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

* To use frozen cookie dough: Place dough balls 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 13-15 minutes or until surface cracks. Remove to wire racks to cool.

* Meanwhile, cut two rounded sides from each pretzel. Make a 3/4-in. cut in each licorice piece.

* Working with a few cookies at a time, frost cookie and position pretzels for antlers, M&M's for eyes and a sour ball for the nose. Shape licorice for the mouth; place on cookie. Add nonpareil candies for a collar. Yield: about 5 dozen.