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Originally published Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 5:10 AM

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Baking tips for the holidays

Easy baking tips to help you save time and add flavor.

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With the holidays in full swing, here are some baking tips to help you in the kitchen:

— Give a boxed brownie mix a holiday makeover: Sprinkle chocolate chips over the brownies straight from the oven. Let sit for a few minutes, then spread the melted chocolate. Sprinkle immediately with crushed peppermint candies, pressing in the candies to adhere. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.

— Drop-cookie dough is great for freezing. Portion out the dough onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, freeze, then transfer to a covered container and refreeze. When you’re ready, bake as usual, tacking on an extra minute or two as needed.

— When separating eggs, do them individually before adding the separated white and yolk to the other ingredients. Consider this a quick and easy measure worth taking to avoid contamination of the bowls due to a yolk accident.

— Cool baking sheets in between baking batches of cookies by running cold water over the underside of each sheet — placing raw cookie dough on a hot baking sheet will lead to uneven baking.

— For recipes that call for melted butter, try browning the butter for a nuttier flavor: Melt the butter and cook until it turns a hazelnut brown, then pour into a heatproof bowl immediately to stop the cooking. Use while still in liquid form.

— Store soft and crisp cookies separately, since softer cookies will leach moisture from crisp cookies, causing them to become soft, too. Store soft cookies with an orange peel or apple wedge to keep them soft. Change the apple daily.

— For a shiny, glossy crust, brush dough with an egg wash made from an egg beaten with water.

For more information, visit www.foodnetwork.com. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.

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