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Courage Cheesecake

I am sorry. I am sorry with every ounce of my being and then some. I am sorry that there are no words to describe how sorry I am. So please forgive me? You do? Great! Because I did not get any real good pictures of the cheesecake. GASP! I know. It is terrible. It is so terrible that I should just go and make another cheesecake to make up for it. I will get on that. Probably next week. Yes definitely next week. And maybe the week after that. And the week after that. Until I can play the role of Mrs.Claus because I am so full of cheesecake. Ah, that sounds heavenly.

And no longer scary. I have to admit that I was absolutely petrified of making a cheesecake. I was reading horror stories of cracked, dry, flat, liquidy, flavorless cheesecakes… everywhere. It sounded like it was just a dream or a gift given only to the best bakers in thee world. No one else was allowed to enter the Pearly Gates of Cheesecake and I felt like a fool to even try. But I had to try. I had to throw caution to the wind and make a cheesecake. How could I call myself a baker if I could not even make one of my favorite desserts of all time? So I did it. I found this wonderful, wonderful, fantastic, amazing blog with a whole FAQ that seemed to be dedicated to me and it is perfect for anyone else out there that is afraid to take the plunge. Just do it. Jump into this world of creamy cheese and graham cracker crumbs. It is a beautiful place to land. Promise.

And I did it. I made a cheesecake. I was terrified. I was hovering over the stove like a dotting mom. I was scared when the timer went off after 35 minutes and it was still white! There was no golden brown top. It was white. Oh no. What was going on? Ok. Give it time. Another 5 minutes. Yeah. That should do it. But another 5 minutes went by and no change! Ok, ok. Maybe it was the water bath, it was just making things a little wonky. 10 minutes. That should do it. But it didn’t.

It was the scariest moment of my life. Yes, that is an exaggeration but it was pretty close to making the top 10 list. I was so afraid that this additional time was going to make it dry. I was so afraid that if I stopped then and there it was going to be liquidy. I was torn between perfection and giving up. But I kept going.

The total time for the cheesecake here in in-land Maine… was an 1 hour and 10 minutes. That is 35 minutes more than the time it said.

But I am glad I kept at it. Because it was the best tasting cheesecake I ever had. It was fine plain. It was even more fine with the homemade blueberry syrup. Or Strawberry Syrup. Or homemade whipped cream. It was so fine that I didn’t get any pictures of it because it was eaten up so quickly. And no one complained.

It was one of the happiest moments of my life. And it can be yours too. Go to Our Best Bites and worship them. Thank them for being alive. Thank them for taking their time to answer all the questions you could possibly have about cheesecake. And then you too can enjoy this amazing delicious creation…

The only one that made it into picture

Oh, and enjoy this cat in the box (yunno to make up for the lack of pictures…)

Mommy got this box just for me...I got business cards. Kitties got boxes to play in. It is a wonderful world. See, you can’t be mad now can you?

This weekend has been all about baking and it has definitely paid off! This weekend, I made my first order for A Dab of Frosting: more Tiramisu Cupcakes! (which had led to a second order which makes for a very happy Cassy). Now the last time I made Tiramisu cupcakes I had not really planned ahead and ended up throwing away 12 egg whites. It felt like such a waste… but I knew that Angel Food Cake required a lot of egg whites and I reminded my fiance that the next time I make Tiramisu Cupcakes that I need to make an Angel Food Cake at the same time. This ended up happening a lot quicker than I thought. I ended up following this Angel Food Cake Recipe, exactly. It had great reviews and I couldn’t find anything worth changing, and I am glad I didn’t. Now the one thing I thought would go great with the Angel Food Cake and Cheesecake would be the one thing that is in season in Maine right now: Blueberries!

I decided I was going to try my hand at making homemade blueberry syrup! Once again, my inspiration came from AllRecipes Blueberry Sauce but with some differences.

Measure out 2 cups of Blueberries and put them into a bowl. Pick out as many of the stems as possible. Luckily mine did not have that many!

Once you do that, put the berries into a medium sauce pan and add in 1/4 cup cold water, 1/2 cup of orange juice (I used Oakhurst orange juice but you can use whatever suits your fancy), 1 teaspoon of freshly squeezed lemon, and 3/4 cup of sugar. Mix well over medium heat and bring to a boil.

 

In a separate small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of corn starch and 1/4 cup of cold water. Once the blueberry mixture has come to a boil, add the cornstarch mixture and stir in until the blueberry mixture has become thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Now you can alter how thick you want it by adding in some water. I did. I added about another 1/4 of water because I wanted it a little bit more runny. Then add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract. And Wha-la!

Homemade Blueberry Syrup! And it tastes amazing! And it goes wonderfully with Angel Food Cake…

And tonight I am going to be trying it with the cheesecake I made… Post about that will have to wait for tomorrow!

But enjoy this yummy picture of it:

Mmmm breakfast food...Enjoy!

Ideas and Tiramisu…

A lot of changes are occurring for A Dab of Frosting — slowly it is starting to evolve into a small business and not just a hobby (because that is the dream to make your passion into a money making machine, right?). Right now it is not so much for profit but to build a fan base and also support my baking adventures so my other paycheck can go to… important stuff… like rent my horse. Who says I don’t have my priorities in order?

To get this feeling more professional, I have even started a Facebook page for it! Ok, well my fiance set it up. I’m not quite that tech savvy yet but I am working on it! Also, I am ordering business cards and making up brochures so I will be ready for our first Monthly Taste Testing party! Anyone who wants to swing by can enjoy Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes and also the famous chocolate chip cookies that helped me fall in love with baking in the first place.

I have BIG dreams and I just know if I stay focus, they can come true!

Now on to the Tiramisu. I really wish I was better at taking pictures throughout my processes. I also wish I had a camera that could really capture the moments. But alas, I have neither. Tiramisu cupcakes are probably the hardest cupcakes I ever made (so far!). The whole process took about 5 hours altogether! So this is something you definitely do not want to do in one afternoon. I would start with the ladyfingers one day and then finish the rest the next morning if you wish to have it for dessert at a reasonable hour the next day. The custard takes about 6 hours in the fridge to set on top of the ladyfingers to get the best flavor. So patience on this one!

The idea to make Tiramisu cupcakes came from when a friend brought over Tiramisu Gelato (YUM) as a dessert for one of our evening gatherings. But then she mentioned how she never had actual Tiramisu! Which is just tragic… so I decided that her streak of being a tiramisu virgin must come to an end! And since I am on such a huge cupcake bender, I decided to try my luck at making them in cupcake form. I went to the internet in search of inspiration since a.) I never made Lady fingers b.) I have only had tiramisu once in my life and even though it was delicious enough to stick with me, it was not enough to replicate completely by memory and c.) I needed a list of ingredients.

and wha-la I found this amazing blog with a recipe for homemade ladyfingers and Tiramisu cupcakes and I highly recommend you check her out at The Cupcake Project. I made the ladyfingers just as she directed (which does involve separating an egg. How many people know how to separate an egg? if there are enough people who would like a little tutorial, I was thinking about doing one in my next blog post!). Now the problem is when you make these ladyfingers in regular cupcake size, and fill the cupcake liners about… a 1/4 up since you really want to layer on the custard…. you get about 30 cupcakes. Or at least I got 30 cupcakes. Either way, plan for A LOT of cupcakes.

Not even half of the ladyfingers! and I had to make my amazing fiance go out and buy me more cupcake liners because the ones I have ordered,  haven’t even come in yet (which is driving me a bit bonkers!).

Ladyfinger Recipe By Cupcake Project

4 eggs, separated

2 tbsp + 2/3 C white sugar

1 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 24 cupcake liners (at least). Depends how much ladyfinger to custard ratio you want.

Separate Eggs

Place egg whites in a bowl and beat on high until soft peaks start to form. (Soft Peaks means that the egg whites have just passed the frothy/bubbly state and that it holds some sort of form).

Slowly add 2 tablespoons of the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy.

In another bowl, beat egg yolks and remaining sugar.

Whip until thick and very pale in color. (you can do this with a fork — it is a bit of a work out!)

On wax paper or in a small bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.

Fold half the egg whites into the egg yolk mixture.

Add in flour, and then add the remaining egg whites.

Fill cupcake liners about 1/4 full. They will bake up to fill 1/2 the cupcake liner.

Bake for 8 minutes.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

12 egg yolks

1 1/2 C white sugar

1 1/3 C milk (I use whole milk)

2 1/2 C heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 lb mascarpone cheese

2 C strong brewed coffee, room temperature (use good coffee. Kevin and I have discovered a love for Caribou Coffee!)

4 tbsp rum

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

a small amount of dark chocolate for chocolate curls (optional)

Directions

In a medium saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Then whisk the milk and cook over medium heat. Make sure to stir constantly until the mixture boils (prepare to be stirring for awhile. It takes about 10-15 minutes to get the mixture to boil).

Boil gently for 1 minute, remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly. (When you can hold your hand over it and not feel it radiating any heat)

Cover tightly and chill in refrigerator 2 hours.

Remove from refrigerator and whisk in mascarpone (add slowly and whisk each time. About an 8oz container at a time) until smooth.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat cream with vanilla until stiff peaks form. (You can also add some sugar to make it a little sweeter. I added 2 teaspoons of sugar to add a little sweetness). Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine coffee and rum.

Drizzle approximately 1 tbsp + 2 tsp of the coffee/rum mixture over each pre-baked ladyfinger.  Add it a little at a time and wait for it to absorb into the ladyfingers before adding more.

Spread the mascarpone mixture over the soaked ladyfingers.

Pipe or spread the whipped cream over the mascarpone.

Sprinkle with cocoa powder. (I used just my fingertips to sprinkle it on. Don’t over do it!)

Optionally, top with chocolate curls.  Make the chocolate curls using a vegetable peeler on a piece of chocolate.

Cover and refrigerate 4 to 6 hours, until set. (Definitely better if you wait for 6 hours… but if you really can’t wait, you can eat one after 4 hours…)

 

And wha-la! You have Tiramisu Cupcakes! Perfect for a lovely date night, a dinner party, or just because you are craving something coffee flavored and delicious.

 

Listen closely girls. If you are ever in the dog house with your man(spent too much on clothes, that 50th pair of shoes you just had to have, mixed your man’s whites with your red socks and turned everything pink), this recipe will save your friendship/relationship/marriage. Trust me. One bite and he will be a bacon-crazed monster while kissing your feet and worshiping the ground you walk on. Well maybe not that drastic. But he will react much in the same way we act when given a chocolate bar while PMSing. It just makes everything… better.

The idea came to me when a friend made Steak and Bacon at a BBQ (which is steak with bacon wrapped around it), and everyone kept saying it reminded them of a cinnamon roll (a meaty/bloody cinnamon roll), but I could understand the misconception since it was in the similar pinwheel shape that bring to mind the sweet cinnamon pastry. Then I wondered what a cinnamon roll with bacon would taste like… and I just had to try it.

The fiance went to the Farmer’s Market over the weekend while I was out of town and snagged up two packages of local smoked bacon (way better than the store bought stuff). Early Monday morning I decided to give it a try. Now the last time I made cinnamon rolls it was an absolute disaster. I tried to make it with yeast, but accidentally grabbed an older package of yeast… and it was all downhill from there. I ended up having cinnamon roll shaped rocks. So I am still a little scarred from the experience and decided to go the “no yeast” route.

I found this wonderful recipe over at Moms Who Think and modified it so it worked better with what I was going for.

Cinnamon Rolls (without yeast)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for the counter (about another cup or more)
2 Tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 teaspoon maple syrup

8 slices of bacon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease a 9in circular cake pan (I greased mine with butter) and if you have a cooling rack (I don’t yet), grease that as well. These are sticky! I used waxed paper and even then, they stuck to it and it was a pain to get off.
  2. Heat bacon up with a frying pan just enough to make it warm.
  3. Make the filling first in a small bowl. It will all mix together pretty well until it resembles wet sand.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar.
  5. In another small bowl, mix buttermilk and 2 tablespoons melted butter together. Pour this into the flour mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until the flour is well soaked. The dough will look rough (not smooth).
  6. Knead the dough on counters sprinkled with lots of flour. Start with about a cup and keep sprinkling some on with your fingers when you find the dough getting too sticky).
  7. Once it is smooth, spread out into a 9×13 rectangle with your hands (no rolling pin needed).
  8. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons of butter.
  9. Evenly spread out the filling over the dough, pressing it in.
  10. Roll the dough starting from one of the long ends, gently and tightly.
  11. Pin each ends of the dough. Cut into evenly 8 rolls.
  12. One at a time, unwrap one of the rolls and add bacon. Roll it back up with the bacon and put on the cake pan.
  13. Brush a little butter on top of the cinnamon rolls.
  14. Bake for 20 minutes. (Best eaten warm! Straight out of the oven)

(As you can see, very gooey on the inside, but a little crispy on top. I baked them for about 2-3 minutes too long. 20 minutes should be fine. I aimed for in between 20-25 since I did not know how the bacon would affect the baking process).

To make these cinnamon rolls even better, I added a Maple Cream Cheese Frosting made with real Maine syrup that the fiance also picked up from the Farmer’s Market.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese

½ cup of butter

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

3 cups Powdered Sugar

1 tablespoon milk

  1. Mix together cream cheese and butter until smooth
  2. Add Powdered sugar
  3. Add maple syrup
  4. Slowly pour in milk until smooth
  5. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls

and by the sounds coming from the other room, either my fiance was having an affair right under my nose or he was in heaven with these cinnamon rolls. I am going to go with the latter 😉

Stay tune as my ideas start becoming a reality and I make Tiramisu Cupcakes…

Wanted: Taste Testers

NOTE: Only 1 spot left for taste testing the tiramisu cupcakes! Please read below for more information on how you can get involved.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about direction and where I want to go with everything. Yeah I definitely have my goals about using more Maine based ingredients (keep your eye out next week as I attempt cinnamon rolls with bacon! yes, you heard correctly… BACON. As in the meat. That comes from pigs. Vegetarians beware! Sorry Mom). I am definitely getting into the groove of baking despite the heat (92 degrees today, w00t!). Thank goodness for the A/C. Makes baking bearable. Unless I go outside. Then you think of anything but baking. And all the things you normally think about are all the things I am not doing (like swimming). That’s only because the love of my life is also planning a romantic dinner tonight. That seems like a good replacement for not going swimming… (and I am baking dessert which I will probably write about on Sunday or Monday: Minty Fudgy Cups).

I have come up with an idea on where I eventually want to be with my baking. I am seeing a world where I am surrounded by baked goods, making gift baskets and helping people. I see working with people on not being afraid of the kitchen and being able to present something to their loved ones. Also, I want to incorporate my writing (got someone special on your mind? Want to make their face light up with a poem? Only problem is you can’t write for the life of you? That’s where I step in. People like personalized gifts — just sayin’). So I want to start working towards that direction. Starting small and then hopefully gaining the reputation and credit to be able to open up my storefront (with kitchen of course!). Now that will be living the dream. I see having just a small little place… having some baking resources, and also having a few bookshelves filled with books that people can read while munching on a tasty baked good…

So to get started, this is what I am proposing to friends, neighbors, whoever feels like stopping by…

1. I will be announcing the baked good I am going to be creating. And people can say whether or not they want to be taste testers (limited of spaces!) and can have a free sample of that baked good. If you enjoy it, you can buy more for a price I come up with after I purchase ingredients (certain baked goods may be a little more expensive depending on ingredients). If all the baked goods run out and you are unable to buy it, but it was something you really wanted to try… you can buy a whole order from me, or you can commission me to make it again but have it open for other people to buy/taste test.

2. If you are a test taster, your payment is you have to write up about the experience. How it tasted? What could have been better? Would you recommend it to someone? Why or why not? (this way I can become a better baker!)

3. You can also make requests! But if you make a request, you have to pay for at least two of the baked goods (but you also get to be a taste tester automatically). What I mean is if you want a certain type of cupcake… you have to pay for a cupcake. At least 2.

I am not trying to make a profit right now. Just to be able to sustain some sort of balance so not my entire paychecks are going to baked goods and not… the rent. And also to receive some feedback so I can become a better baker.

The first cupcakes I am going to try this with are Tiramisu Cupcakes. I will need 3 taste testers. First three people who say I would like to taste test these cupcakes get the chance. I will then send a message when they are complete (Tuesday night. July 26), and you can come over and have one. (These recipes are all recipes I have never tried before…if they do not come out well enough to be sold, they will all be free). After they have been tested, they will go up for sale. Tiramisu Cupcakes have a variety of ingredients and will be selling for $2.75 a cupcake (if they come out OK). *Note: Tiramisu Cupcakes also contain some rum*

Let me know what you think and what your opinions are. While you think it over whether you want to be a taste tester or not, enjoy this picture of the Beary Fun Summer cupcakes I made earlier this week.

Beat the heat with a Dab of Frosting! (And teddy grahams!)

Hi World,it’s been awhile. How you feeling? Sorry I have been in hiding for a bit. The past week has been a bit stressful and I finally got to take a trip away from it all. At least for a little bit. But the stress has kept me from baking and experimenting and so on that front I really have nothing new to share. I will probably be making cupcakes sometime tomorrow… most likely in the morning before the humidity gets too bad (it just wears me out!). The whole past week was definitely a learning lesson. One that I wish was required for all people to take a course in. I believe college would be a lot more useful if they had classes on how to deal with losing a loved one, attorneys and the law, making the right medical decisions for a loved one/family member. Because making these choices and trying to be all responsible, at the age of 21…where you were still hoping to get financial advice and support from your Dad at least 10 years down the road and suddenly, it is becoming more and more clear that he may not even know what year it is in a few weeks to a  month…forget financial advice, those good fatherly talks, the wisdom to make the right choice…You’re on your own and that fact scares the daylights out of me. I am now in a position where I would go to him and ask him what would be best…and he would tell me in his cryptic way where he would direct me in the right path but in a way that would be totally my choice… but at least he gave a guideline. I am suddenly in the dark without a guide.

For all you parents out there, please, please, please for the sake of your family, have some idea or something written down saying that if you are ever a vegetable and your diagnosis is not good, what you would want from your family. Would you want to be put on a machine even if it was just going to prolong your comatose state but you wouldn’t even be aware? Seriously, what would you want? Right now, I am in the position to make these choices should the problems arise and I do not know what is the best decision. So please, I know it is morbid and weird to write about the what ifs, but you are really doing the family a huge favor. Do not wait last minute. Just write something down and stick it in a file.

So that is just part of the stresses I have been dealing with…but I do not want this to become a ranting/venting blog…but it provides the back drop. Because the main point is that life can be crappy/stressful/painful/depressing/etc, but you can not let those emotions rule your life. When you do, then… it is like telling the dark side they won! And they lied.. and didn’t have cookies. And now you are just stuck in a rut feeling all those terrible things and cookie-less. But if you appreciate the light side of things, then guess what? You have the option of always having a cookie.

Or in my case, cupcakes. Besides the stress, I also had an amazing week since I just celebrated by 3rd anniversary of being together with my fiance. We went on a great vacation for 3 days to a place called Boothbay Harbor in Maine, and it was absolutely incredible. I love the ocean… and someday, I hope to live by it. We also went whale watching! And it was such a treat… we saw Finback Whales which happen to be the second largest whales… ever. As well as a Minke whale, harbor porpoises, seals and a basking shark. We had a traditional clambake that we had to travel to an island by boat to get, but it was absolutely worth it… as we watched the sun set behind and over the water while chomping down on 2 big lobsters, a bowl of clams, a baked potato, an onion, a boiled egg, corn on the cob and to top it all off…blueberry cake for dessert. Yum.

It was nice to just get away. All my problems would be waiting back at home, but for the weekend, I could be someone who had no problems. Just someone enjoying the beautiful weather and being the love of my life.

Life is always going to throw curveballs. It is going to knock you down to your knees and beg for the misfortune to be placed on someone else (seriously, not a good thing to do because the karma bug will bite you… but we all do it). But you have to look towards the light and reach out… Sometimes you have to take a mental vacation and just leave your problems at the door. They will be there when you get back, and you feel more energized to deal with them once you center yourself.

Next post I promise, there will be baked goods (since my love got me the big book of cupcakes from betty crocker for our anniversary!). Until then, do something nice for yourself. You deserve it!

I am on my way on completing one of my baking goals: using fresh and local ingredients in my baked goods. Instead of buying Strawberries from the grocery store, Kevin and I decided to buy from a local farmer that had set up a stand. The strawberries were a little bit smaller since they had not been injected with any huge growing compounds, but they were absolutely delicious. I knew I really wanted to make muffins since the banana ones had come out so perfect. I searched the internet to try to get ideas, but all the recipes I came across had some sort of criticism and it was making me nervous to try out any of them. I decided that I was finally going to take bits and pieces of each recipe that I liked and create my own — and I am so glad that I did!

 

Look at those beautiful muffins!My recipe created 18 of these wonderful creations. They are also topped with some brown sugar crumble. It took me two tries to get the crumble exactly how I want it. The secret for me was to have the butter be melty, but not completely melted. Fork it through the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon until it is course…

Then you take the brown sugar crumble and just put it over the batter in the cupcake tins. For muffins, I find it best to fill the cups about 3/4 of the way full or even a bit more so you get a nice rounded top of the muffin (I really love muffin tops!)

Look at that beautiful pink dough! The strawberries were super juicy. Then you just pop them into the oven for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.

And wha-la. You have muffins as seen at the top of this post! They went fast. I gave them to friends and family, and they made a nice snack when traveling for a wedding. My life has been pretty this week and that is why I have been so late in posting. Next post will be coming soon… I will be discussing my experience at visiting my first Farmer’s market, my anniversary present that Kevin got me, and how road trips help you escape from stress — at least for a little bit!

Strawberry Muffins

2 cups of Flour

1 1/2 cups of Sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup of milk (I used whole milk for mine)

2 cups of strawberries

1/2 cup butter, melted

mini chocolate chips, optional (I am a chocolaholic! And I just love the combination of Strawberries and chocolate).

Crumble

1 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of flour

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 cup of butter, soften (and slightly melty)

Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F

1. In a small bowl or on a sheet of wax paper, mix flour, baking powder, and baking soda together (shifting it around with a spoon is what works best for me).

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix the sugar and melted butter. Add the vanilla, eggs and milk until well stirred. Be careful as to not over beat.

3. Add the dry (flour, baking powder, and baking soda) ingredients slowly to the wet ingredients until moist. (Best to do this slowly and not dump in the ingredients all at once)

4. Add the strawberries and mini chocolate chips (which are optional but tasty!). Do not be too rough with the strawberries, but enough to get the juices to spread through the batter. (The batter should turn slightly pink!)

5. In another bowl, mix the ingredients for the crumble using a fork. Make sure the butter is well mixed.

6. Line the cups with muffin/cupcake liners or grease the tin very good. Fill cups with batter and put a little bit of the crumble over each one.

7. Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven. Let cool for 5 minutes in tray before putting them on a cooling rack (or in my case, my counter lined with wax paper. Anyone want to get me a cooling rack?)

Then they are ready to eat!Yields 18 muffins! So they are best shared!

Enjoy!

 

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