Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

Strawberry Cookies and Cream Cake

With every trip to the grocery store, I run these few thoughts through my mind.  

•  GAH!  I forgot my grocery list.  Do I need lemons?  I probably need lemons.  •  Why is it so cold in here?  •  Do I have my wallet, where’s my wallet, who stole my wallet, oh here’s my wallet.  •  Is that baby sitting in that stroller staring at me or do babies just stare?  •  Would it be weird if I start eating this baguette right now?    •  I hate scallops  •  No, you don’t need a bag of chocolate sandwich cookies… don’t even look at those Oreos… no no no.  •  Wait, didn’t you want to make a recipe with a cookies and cream whipped cream?  Better get the cookies.  Two bags, just to be sure.  

Cut to:  home from the grocery store eating Oreos for dinner.

Could one of you please call an adult and ask them to come live with me? 

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How To Make The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Im not one for secrets.  Especially where chocolate is involved. 

I always have a few tricks up my sleeve and I can never keep them secrets for long.  Brown sugar baked bacon is one secret.  Sweet, salty, crisp, and perfect.  Adding that bacon to biscuits,  completely over the top good!  Brown butter in everything, most especially chocolate chip cookies…. another secret I just couldn’t keep to myself.  

Today another secret comes out.  We’re talking about the most perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  Soft, glossy, light and spreadable… and the secret ingredients are Rich Chocolate Ovaltine and heavy cream!  Malted chocolate milk powder and cream to add extra body, and a light whipped texture to our frosting.  It’s unexpected and perfect!  

I hope there is cake (and waaaay too much buttercream) in your future.  

The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Here’s what you’ll need:

• Three sticks (1 1/2 cups or 12 ounces) softened, unsalted butter.  I think it’s best to leave the butter out overnight to softened to room temperature through and through.  Softening butter in the microwave makes the butter more melty than soft and can break our perfect buttercream,  

•  Unsweetened cocoa powder, and lots of it.

•  Salt, to balance the mountain of powdered sugar.

•  A mountain of powdered sugar. 

•  Milk for moisture and softness.

•  Rich Chocolate Ovaltine, the chocolate malted milk powder adds a creamy softness to this buttercream and makes it extra rich, glossy, and luscious.  

•  Heavy cream because, always.  

•  Extra credit:  pure vanilla extract.  

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Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet Cake

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

I was looking for rainbow carrots.  I was thinking we’d roast some carrots… you know, sit around a plate of carrots and just chat.

And then, nope.  

Turns out strawberries are in season!  Now.  Already.  It’s time!

Maybe still a little too soon for the white jeans and the flip flops (shut up California and Florida), but strawberries are here and we have major reason to celebrate (with dumplings).  

Come with it! 

Roasted Strawberry and Dumpling Skillet

 Strawberries have yet to reach their peek in sweetness and extreme loveliness.  When in doubt: ROAST! And there better be butter and a little bit of sugar.

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Brown Butter Banana Skillet Cake with Strawberries and Pecans

Brown Butter Banana Skillet Cake with Strawberries and Pecans

Brown Butter Banana Skillet Cake with Strawberries and Pecans

I always have the best intentions when I buy a bundle of bananas. ! daydream about protein-packed green smoothies.  I toy with the idea of afternoon snacks with almond butter.  I know I’ll eat them for breakfast with a cup of black coffee and a smile on my face.

Unfortunately, exactly none of that actually happens, and I’m left with a shameful bundle of brown bananas on my countertop a week later.  

It never fails.  It never does.  

A bundle of bananas is meant for cake.  Destiny.  Sightly under baked with strawberries and pecans.  Let’s!  

Brown Butter Banana Skillet Cake with Strawberries and Pecans

Make and bake in the skillet!  It’s really the best.  If you aren’t a neurotic food blogger like me, you won’t need a million bowls big and small to bring together this skillet cake.  Just a skillet, and spoon, and good attitude. 

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Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake

Y‘all… it’s TIME.

It’s time for the brioche-rich, cinnamon-swirled, colorfully sprinkled cake that is KING CAKE! 

It’s carnival time here in New Orleans.  That means that we’re celebrating life, pushing the limits of indulgence, dancing in the streets (most literally), catching as many beads as we can, throwing as many beads as we can, and eating King Cake… all before Lent next Wednesday.  We have a lot to fit into this next week!  

In New Orleans, which is a world in its own, we eat King Cake between very specific dates:  January 6th to honor the Three Kings and Fat Tuesday (the madness just before Lent).

What’s with all of the colorful cake madness?  History.  We need a history lesson.

“The King’s Cake accompanies festivities to commemorate the Epiphany, the day the Magi (interpreted by some to mean “kings”) arrived in Bethlehem and presented gifts to baby Jesus the twelfth night after his birth. The cake is a reenactment of Epiphany, with a bean or baby figurine baked into the cake to symbolize Christ and is eaten throughout Carnival festivities.”  – Three Men and a Baby: A Brief History of King Cakes 

I hesitated to make this cake at home this Mardi Gras.  King Cakes are absolutely everywhere in New Orleans and really… there’s no need to make one at home.  That would be like visiting Paris and staying indoors to make your own croissants. I’m also very new to New Orleans.  Who am I to make a dang King Cake?  Well… here goes nothing (/everything).  

•  Is that a plastic baby Jesus in my cake?  Kinda yea.   

•  10 things to know about Mardi Gras.  Yes… Mardi Gras is only a legal holiday in Louisiana.  It’s a different world.  

•  Mardi Gras Mix Tape Zing!

Mardi Gras King Cake

Here’s what we need:  flour and salt, milk, sugar and yeast.  The makings of a fine and good yeasted bread.  

What takes this treat from bread to cake is fat and flavor.  Lots of melted butter, five creamy egg yolks, ground cinnamon, and lemon zest!  

We’re also going to need a mega amount of sprinkles.  Purple for justice, green for faith, gold for power.  And a little plastic baby to sneak into the cake after baking.  Whomever gets the cake has to buy the next King Cake… and the circle never ever ends.  

If you’re not with us here in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I hope you make this cake and fill your kitchen with the spirit of this city.  It’s special.  It’s delicious!  It’s Mardi Gras!  

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Brûlée Orange and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Orange and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

Orange and Cream Cheese Pound Cake

 I‘m going to start a new line of pillows made exclusively out of this cream cheese pound cake.  Edible bed pillows.  Lay your head down at night and snack-and-sleep.  If we’re going to turn aaanny cake into a pillow, this is it.  

This is the softest, most tender cake thanks to both cream cheese and butter.  Sponge-y and moist without being cloying or obnoxious.  It’s the perfect pillow material.  Like memory foam but… edible cake.  

Or.  I suppose you could serve this cake sliced on platters and plates.  Also a viable option, just without the beauty rest.  Think about it.  

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Lemon Pound Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

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I forget.

I sometimes forget that we have a thing here.  A thing that’s more of a weird Internet friendship than a simple fling.  Forgive my forgetting.

I’ve gotten a lot of urgent emails and tweets and random Internet shouts about why why why WHY I picked up and moved my little world to New Orleans.  (I also respect the fact that some of you couldn’t care less… that’s cool.)

The answer is probably far less exciting that you’d like it to be.  I moved from California to New Orleans because I wanted to.  I wanted a change in place, a jolt of inspiration, more crawfish on my plate, adventure.  I wanted to feel out of my element and get to know a new place.  New Orleans, with its little bit of magic, seems like the place my heart wants to be.  So… this is that!

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

Can I be honest with you about something?  The more people asked me why I was moving to New Orleans, the more I wanted to hold that information close and keep it to myself.  I try to keep a balance of what I share with the big wide Internet (with its supporters and haters) and what I keep to myself.  Mostly I’m trying to protect you from things like… my weird love for One Direction and all those times I feel too many feelings.

I’ve created a place where I can share, where we can share, where we can hang out and bake together.  Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want all of the nitty-gritty.  I just forget that sometimes I have to explain myself. It totally makes sense that you would want to know the why.  (Again, it also makes sense if you don’t give a care.)

Anyhow… I’m still trying to figure this whole ‘sharing on the Internet’ thing out… six years into the game.

At least now you know the not terribly interesting reason I moved to New Orleans.  Did I mention the crawfish?  That has a lot to do with it.

Lemon Cake with Lemon Poppy Seed Buttercream

I’m still figuring out how I want to photograph in my new space, I’m learning the quirks of my new oven (which are many), and I’m trying to figure out if there’s a single surface that my cat can’t jump on.  I appreciate that you’re along for that ride.

Learning curve: steep.  Still there’s cake.

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Double Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

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Double Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

Cupcakes in disguise… also known as Double Chocolate Baked Doughnuts.

Perfectly cakey and soft with extra drippy chocolate glaze.  Basically, I’ll never make a cupcake again, especially since this is the very best way to eat chocolate cake for breakfast.

Sprinkles, too!  This is a total no-brainer.

Double Chocolate Cake Doughnuts

Other Baked Doughnut experiments include Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts and Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts.  I’m nowhere near done baking up these little darlings. So much more satisfying than cupcakes… but mostly kinda the exact same thing. Shoulder shrug.

You should get a baked doughnut pan.  No pressure.

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Chocolate Peppermint Icebox Yule Log Cake

icebox yule log cake

Icebox Yule Log Cake / joy the baker

It’s really not Christmas until we make a cake shaped like a log, and prematurely plow through the chocolate treats in our Advent calendars.  Well… consider it Christmas because here we have A LOG (that’s really just a cake made of whipped cream and cookies) (and the Advent calendar is loooong gone)!

I made a Yule Log-type Cake a few years ago.  It had a soft (gluten-free) chocolate cake filled and rolled with peppermint whipped cream and topped with chocolate ganache.  So light and fluffy!  Dreams, really.

This year’s Yule Log Cake is beyond clever.  We’re stacking thin chocolate wafers with peppermint whipped cream and topping it with chocolate whipped cream.  It’s an Icebox Cake!  No-bake.  Minimal fuss.

Joy the Baker Icebox Yule Log Cake from Joy the Baker on Vimeo.

Because the cake was such a cinch.  We made you a Christmas video, too!  We were feeling cheeky and we like to play with our food.  Thank you to the creative mind of Hilton Carter and the reliability of the Canon 6D for this video.  I’d like to pat myself on the back for making a giant stable mountain of ‘whipped cream’ out of meringue and foil.  Take a look!

Icebox Yule Log Cake / joy the baker

This genius recipe is inspired by America’s Test Kitchen.  Do you know the hardworking people at America’s Test Kitchen?  They’re a wonderful recourse for great recipes and amazingly sensible kitchen techniques.  I love their cookbook The America’s Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook.

Now let’s stack these cookies and call it a cake!  It’s definitely as easy as it seems.

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Gingerbread Speculoos and Dark Chocolate Cake

gingerbread cake

Gingerbread Cake with Speculoos and Dark Chocolate

You can’t show up to my family holiday gatherings with just any dessert.  There better not be a wiff of boxed cake mix nor a hint of shortening in the pie crust.  All real.  All butter.  This is a place where we come correct!

I come from a legacy of legendary home bakers.  Am I bragging?  You bet your sweet pants I am!  My mom makes the best Peanut Butter Balls (you might call them Buckeyes, right?).  My dad (as I’ve told you ad nauseum) is known for his Sweet Potato Pie.  My grandmother makes the best Banana Bread in the entire world… she probably invented it, so.. there’s that.

Believe it or not, I’m feel like I’m still trying to find my footing in my family when it comes to legendary baking. I’m not sure what my specialty will be, so I’m looking for a bit of inspiration in the holiday season.  The inspiration for this holiday gingerbread cake comes from GODIVA Chocolate. GODIVA has chocolate-legend status on lockdown (amiright?). This particular cake was inspired by GODIVA’s Gingerbread Cookie Legacy Truffle:  gingerbread spices, and Speculoos mousse wrapped in chocolate.  Yes… someone finally worked Speculoos into a decadent chocolate candy.  Thank heavens.  Seriously.

This Gingerbread Cake with Speculoos and Dark Chocolate really ups the ante. It’s perfect for the holidays.  Actually… it’s perfect for most every night between now and late February.  This cake might just be the one that makes a name for me. Fingers crossed (with a mouth full of chocolate).

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Pear Crumble Coffee Cake

Pear Crumble Coffee Cake

Pear Crumble Coffee Cake

Have you ever put a pear in your purse?  It always starts with the best of intentions.  Mid-morning snack.  Afternoon fruit break.  Nope… it’s never going to be any of those.  It’s going to get bruised by your wallet and smashed up against some loose pens.  It never goes as well as you’d like it to.

Bad idea.

Better idea?  Pear in coffee cake.

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This coffee cake is tender, spiced with Fall, and pear-studded.  So much better than bruised and pen-stabbed, right!?

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Let’s melt our butter and get this show on the road.

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Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnuts with Brown Butter Glaze

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Sometimes in my daydreams I have hair that I can run my fingers through, I wear strapless dresses, I’m really good at driving a stick shift car, I have Sissy Spacek eyelids, and Sigourney Weaver narrates my life. Maybe also there’s an early 90’s Jagged Little Pill soundtrack running though my daydreams… but in a totally zen kinda way.  I mean…

Daydreams are all well and good.  But really, what’s the point daydreaming about different eyelids when there is a stack of freshly made baked doughnuts staring you in the face.  Right?

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I think I warned you about my new-found baked doughnut enthusiasm.  A few weeks ago I made these Brown Butter Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze, and they felt like just about the best thing EVER.  I’m chasing that first baked doughnut high, this time with apples and cinnamon.  Join me!

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Fresh Fig and Almond Breakfast Cake

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This skillet cake was divided into four pieces and eaten without apology.  There was coffee:  two cups each.  There were a few dishes in the sink:  no one cared.  There was that dusty morning summer sun. So good! There was that thing I didn’t want to talk about:  how my cellphone landed in the toilet and died rather unceremoniously.  So bad.

Morning cake  makes all the difference.  Forever and always.

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White Chocolate Rose Cake with Strawberries

White Chocolate Rose Cake

Time is a gift.

I know this because everyday feels like no one has time for anything ever.  I’m not complaining.  I’m not above it.  I’m all up in it.  No time?  Guilty as ever.

Sometimes the best gift you can give someone is your time.  Time at a new restaurant for one of those extra long lunches with pink wine and comfortable eye contact.  Time at the dog park with a friend… when you’re mostly scared of large groups of dogs.  Time on the phone when it’s late and your phone is over-heating on your face.  Time in the kitchen making a very (very) special cake for the woman that took the dang time to carry you around in her body for nine dang months.

Time.  Gosh it’s such a gift.

Let’s find some and share it with each other.

White Chocolate Rose Cake

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Sweet Berry Lime Cake

Sweet Berry Lime Cake

This Bundt cake is my way of making cake without rreeaaalllyy making cake.  Filling, stacking, and fighting with frosting… sometimes (most times) making a layer cake is just too many steps in between me and a slice of cake.

I have sooo many tricks for doing things without doing things.  (What does that even mean?)  Mascara is my way of wearing makeup without wearing makeup.  Carrot sticks and Tic Tacs are my way of eating lunch without eating lunch.  Text messaging is my way of having a conversation without having a conversation.  Coffee is my way of waking up without waking up.

You understand me.  Let’s have cake.

Sweet Berry Lime Cake

This dessert feels like a fancied up cake mix situation without the guilt.  Wait… am I the only one that feels guilty about adding eggs, water, and oil to a mix and calling it cake?  I just know that I didn’t earn the compliments.

This cake is basically cake mix… without the mix or the box.

To be fair, I think brownies from a box are better than any brownie I could ever made from scratch.  I’m not too proud to admit that.  Delicious brownies without making brownies.

Ps.  If Sweet Berry Lime makes you think of Dr. Steve Brule’s Sweet Berry Wine… you’re a friend of mine.  If not… nevermind.  XO!

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Cranberry Orange & Pecan Coffee Cake

cranberry orange coffee cake

This weekend I found myself in one of those expensive clothing boutiques that I really… really had no business being in.  You know those stores: random things cost three hundred dollars and you have no idea why.  Yea…

I realized something crazy ridiculous while browsing around.  The only sizes displayed on the racks were sizes 0, 2, and 4.  I ran across the occasional size 6 but those were like seeing a unicorn in a coffee shop.

Um…. this business practice does not at all agree with my thighs.  Putting me through the discomfort of asking the XS sales girl for a larger-than-size-six-size is just not really that cool.  It doesn’t inspire me to spend hundred of dollars to treat myself to clothes I don’t really need.

It’s like… Ok, fancy boutique, I see the ways in which you glorify size tiny while simultaneously work to undermine my confidence… but I happen to be happy with this body that I inhabit and I would hope that you would respect that, and reflect my needs among your offensively expensive offerings.  No?  You need to ‘go see if there’s a larger size from the back’?  Wwwwhhhyyyy must we suffer through this exchange?  It doesn’t have to be like this… you know that, right!? Fine.  Whatever.  I’m going to Zara.

I’m outraged and appalled (ok… i’m totally being dramatic) and I would like for you to pass the cake.  Not because I’m eating my feelings, but because I actually eat cake and I’m totally ok with that.

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Orange Gingerbread with Cream Cheese Frosting

orange gingerbread with cream cheese frosting

Some things:

– I sometimes think about working in a furniture store just to observe couples come in and fight over couch seat depth and textiles: a sociological study, you know?  Ok… I never actually think about working in a furniture store… I’m really bad at talking about end tables and such.

– Only real adults should have to deal with fabric swatches.  Seriously… what is this swatch supposed to tell me about my life?  I don’t get it.

– I think that Ikea should have a bar instead of a cafeteria.

… I’m shopping for a couch… can you tell?  Please send reinforcements (not fabric swatches).

– Buying a car is easier than buying a couch.  I’m pretty sure this is fact.

I made this cake with far too much home decor nonsense in my brain.  I came to realize that this cake is totally the best air freshener EVER.  Couch shenanigans aside… (almost) all you really need is a house that smells of cake.  So much can be forgiven is cake exists on pretty plates with hot coffee.

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Cinnamon-Sugar Apple Skillet Cake

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If you were to drop by my house on any given day you’d probably find me hungry and over-caffinated, behind a computer screen.  You also might find me behind a giant pile of dirty dishes with flour all over my jeans.  I’m not the kind of girl that’s instantly prepared for company.  The pop-in is a biiig no-no.  I do, however,  wish I were the kind of lady that had pretty cake, coffee, and a pair of socially acceptable pants on at a moment’s notice.  Sigh.

I also wish I were the kind of lady who had an attic full of festive Autumn decor that I could bust out every November for Thanksgiving decorating.  As far as I’m concerned, that’s a different level of adulthood.  Beyond pants, for real.

riley apple farm by lani trock

Since I don’t have any well-stored festive wreaths, I decided to celebrate Autumn on the real… with apples and trees and crisp cool sunshine.  I went apple picking with Ms. Lani Trock, then I came home and made a simple and sweet Apple Skillet Cake.  It’s like a visitor’s cake… the sort of cake you throw together for company on a Saturday afternoon (at least, that’s what I do in my fantasy version of adulthood) (after cake we go shopping for wreaths, right?).

riley apple farm by lani trock

all beautiful orchard photographs by ms. lani trock.  she takes pretty pictures.

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Banana, Walnut & Chocolate Cookie Cake

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Sometimes I am a destroyer of myself.  It’s the strangest thing… aren’t we designed to self-preserve?  It feels like the most bonkers counter-intuitive part of me.  My destroyer-self  has tendencies.  Tendencies are so annoying.  Tendencies like, oh… I dunno… drinking way too much wine under stress or duress.  Tendencies like… telling lies that need not be told.  Tendencies like… believing the demon inside… the ones that say that I’m never ever good enough so why even try.

Gosh these tendencies.  Dang them!  They’re tough.  They travel in packs in me and I end up in a cycle where I’m not doing myself, or anyone around me any good at all.

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Is this too real?  Is this just me?  It can’t be.  I can’t be the only destroyer.

Thank goodness there are tools.  My tools of prevention include: brunch with a best friend, a super honest conversation with a stranger (taxi drivers are wonderful for this), words on the Lord, and the sharing of a cookie cake.

Let kindness prevail inside and out.

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Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

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Say… hypothetically… you’re stalking someone on Facebook.  Totally hypothetical.

So you’re stalking.  First things first: type in name of unsuspecting stalkee.

Now, let’s just stop here for a moment.  Please please make sure you type the stalkee’s name in the search bar, and not the what’s on your mind bar.

Should you happen to type the stalkee’s name in the what’s on your mind bar…. well, their name will be your new status update.  Oooh, and you really can’t delete that fast enough.

Consider this a public service announcement.  Don’t be like me.  I’m constantly embarrassed.

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Roast these strawberries. Ok… this is when you should totally be like me.  Just don’t be like me on Facebook.

I know strawberries are lovely and beautiful fresh from the market.  But… if you’re feeling like a person that wants to turn on the oven…. OH!  The wonder!

Roasted strawberries transform from summer fruit, to warm, soft candy.

Dolloped on top of a sweet buttermilk cake?  Too good.  Game over.

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