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Holiday baking: 4 easy ways to make it stress-free

If you've ever baked a batch of Toll

If you've ever baked a batch of Toll House cookies, a tray of brownies, or a few dozen peanut butter cookies, you have enough experience to produce the Melting Snowmen, Brownie Christmas Trees, and Peanut Butter Reindeer. Credit: Doug Young

Think that only veteran bakers can pull together a dazzling spread of holiday cookies? Not true. If you’ve ever baked a batch of Toll House cookies, a tray of brownies, or a few dozen peanut butter cookies, you have enough experience to produce the Melting Snowmen, Brownie Christmas Trees, and Peanut Butter Reindeer we have whipped up (Get the recipes here).

Stay in your baking comfort zone, add simple decorations (no pastry bag necessary), and holiday cookie baking can be relaxing, not stressful. Here are a few more tips for Christmas cookie novices:

1. Bake, Rest, Decorate: Bake your cookies, let them cool, wrap them up, and decorate them later. Spreading out the work over two days will allow you to focus on the two phases of holiday baking without becoming overwhelmed or making too much of a mess.


2. Discover candy melts: Available at craft stores (and on Amazon ), these disks come in all different colors, melt beautifully, and can be used instead of chocolate or icing to spread or drizzle on cookies. Just place them in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave until partially melted. Stir until smooth and apply.


3. Stock up on sprinkles: And sanding sugar, M & M’s, Red Hots, and other candies and sugar decors. You don’t need any skill at all to apply them and they’ll add lots of color to your cookies.


4. Remember restraint: People love brownies and chocolate chip cookies because they taste great. Don’t obscure the flavors of classic cookies by overdecorating. A little drizzle here, a few sprinkles there, and you’ll produce beautiful cookies that are also delicious.

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