Tag Archives: sweet-tooth Saturday

Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Suzi’s Ginger Cake

We live out in the country on a small acreage near friends on adjoining properties; we call it the commune. ¬†ūüôā ¬†The space gives us privacy, but because we’re all friends, we have a neighborhood where you can stop over for a visit, share a meal and get help with projects. ¬†One neighbor family is vegan–they inspired us to be vegan, too. ¬†Occasionally, we get together for great food, wine and laughs. ¬†The other night, Suzi (she who is the best vegan baker of the whole commune) baked the most amazing ginger cake for dessert. ¬†Suzi made her cake in a 9″ square pan, and I made one the very next day in a bundt pan. ¬†¬†Moist and light. ¬†Perfectly spiced, topped with a mapley glaze and pecans. ¬†Decadent.

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The recipe is from one of our favorite vegan blogs, The FatFree Vegan. ¬†(So, yeah–this cake is nearly fat-free as well!) ¬†Grab some applesauce and spices and get ready for ginger-liscious nirvana.

ingredients

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons crystallized (candied) ginger, chopped small (about 3/4 ounce)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. ¬†Lightly oil a bundt pan or a 9″ square pan.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

mix dry

Add the applesauce, vanilla, and lemon juice and stir just enough to combine.

add wet

Pour into the oiled pan. ¬†My mom bought me this bundt pan in the early 80s. ¬†I love its classic “harvest gold” color and faithful non-stick finish.

pour into greased pan

Bake 45-60 minutes; until a toothpick comes out clean.  My cake was perfectly baked in 45 minutes.

bake til pick comes out clean

While the cake bakes, make the glaze.

glaze ingredients

  • ¬†1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • pinch ginger powder
  • Additional candied ginger or pecans for serving (optional)

Whisk cornstarch and ginger into the maple syrup in a small pan over medium heat.

whisk glaze

Heat to boiling and boil 1 minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool and thicken.

Cool the cake 10 minutes in the pan and then serve or tip it out onto a plate. ¬†This cake stand is from my mom’s milk glass collection; it makes a cake look extra pretty. ¬†Pour glaze over the cake and allow to drip down the sides.

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Slice and top with pecans or candied ginger.

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Savor each tender spicy bite.  You deserve a treat, especially when that treat is under 250 calories and has only 5 grams of fat. (Based on 9 servings per cake.  Skipping the maple glaze saves 25 calories per serving.)

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Happy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook; a cookbook full of yummy, low-fat, vegan recipes. ¬†So, ¬†I’m calling them Happy partly because of that, and partly for the Happy that appeared in my kitchen when these little yummies came out of the oven and found themselves on a plate with a glass of (non-dairy) milk. ¬†And finally, the Happy that radiated through me as I enjoyed my first soft, melty bite.milk and cookies

These amounts make a nice small batch (16-20 cookies) that you can whip up in no time.

ingredients

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat flour! ¬†Recently discovered it at my regular grocery store.)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • a few dashes of cinnamon ¬†(My applesauce had cinnamon in it, so I didn’t add more.)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips ¬†(Find these at a natural foods market.)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat, or grease it.

In  large bowl, combine the sugar, applesauce, vanilla and non-dairy milk.

combine wet ingredients

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cornstarch and cinnamon (if using).

combine dry ingredients

Add the dry mix to the wet mixture in 2-3 batches.  Stir until almost combined.

mix dry into wet

Fold in the chips.

fold in chips

Drop by tablespoon-fulls onto the prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes for soft cookies, a bit longer for crispy ones (being careful to not burn them!).  I opted for soft.

place on prepared sheets

Cool on pans for a few minutes and then transfer to racks to cool completely.

cool on racks

Of course, here is where you want to eat one. ¬†OK, maybe two. ¬†Did I actually eat more than that? ¬†Maybe….

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The Happy Herbivore herself warned these are addictive fresh from the oven. ¬†Um….yup. ¬†I’m making a double batch next time!

dunking

I decided to photograph them with a glass of milk (flax milk), so I couldn’t help but have the milk with a few cookies. ¬†I was instantly transported back to my childhood, having milk and cookies for an after-school snack. ¬†Yummy. ¬†Happy.

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Easy Chocolate Truffles

Let’s start this post with a picture, shall we?!

I am so patting myself on the back for making these uber-rich, chocolatey, beautiful and EASY little truffles today.¬† Lucky for me, I am a woman of a “certain age,” because I found the recipe in the February/March AARP Magazine–just the thing for Valentine’s Day!¬† Make the truffles¬†classic and simple by rolling them in cocoa powder, or go wild with coatings!¬†

  • 10 ounces of semi- or bitter-sweet chocolate, finely chopped¬† (I used semi-sweet chips.)
  • 1 cup heavy cream¬†
  • 4 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 TBSP light corn syrup
  • about 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder for coating, or a combination of coatings!¬† (I used cocoa powder, espresso powder, powdered sugar, coconut and a variety of pink sugars and sprinkles.)

Line an 8×8 pan with plastic wrap, leaving some up over the sides.

Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave, 30 seconds at a time, stirring every 30 seconds until mostly melted.

Bring cream just to a boil in a sauce pan.¬† (Watch VERY closely, it doesn’t take much time between starting to boil and a huge mess all over your stove!)¬†

Remove from heat and pour over chocolate.

Stir until the mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.  It will seem to not be combining at first, but keep stirring, it will get shiny!

Stir in butter, 1 TBSP at a time.  When all butter is incorporated, stir in the corn syrup.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan.

Fold plastic over the top, and gently press against the chocolate.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours, until firm.

Lift truffles out, plastic and all, to a cutting board.¬† Carefully cut into 36 pieces, using a long, cold¬†chef’s knife.¬† You may need to clean your knife in between cuts.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper and assemble your coatings in bowls large enough to roll the truffles in.

One by one, roll the pieces between your hands to make balls.¬† This is super-uber messy.¬† Truffles are supposed to melt in your mouth, and will melt on your hands while you roll them.¬† Roll each ball in the coating of your choice.¬† I learned to not switch back and forth between coatings–the coatings will stick to your chocolatey fingers and contaminate the look of the next truffle.¬† (Eat any “mistakes.”¬† I won’t tell.)¬† Place rolled truffles on wax paper.¬† I also learned to wash my hands between coatings, rinsing with cold water to try to keep my hands colder.

Continue until all truffles are coated and placed on the sheet.  Refrigerate until firm again.  Serve cold.

I had some little mini-muffin liners–I just used the pink ones; and found some Valentine-y ones at the store, along with these cute little heart tins!¬†

I just love-love-love how pretty these look! 

I think my Valentines are going to love the different coatings and the rich, melty chocolate.  Yummy!

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Chocolate-Covered Salted Caramels

While in Hawai’i on vacation, I bought my mom¬†Red¬†‘Alaea and Black Lava¬†sea salts¬†as a Christmas gift; she loved cooking with gourmet salts.¬†She never even got to see them.¬† My dad is¬†a self-described “survival cook,” so we agreed I’d use them more than he would, and I brought them home with me.¬† They’ve been up in my cupboard for almost a month now, calling to me every time I open the door.¬† What does fancy sea salt say, you might be wondering?¬† (Imagine this in a soft whispery voice, almost like a breeze) “Saaalted Caaaramellls.¬† Saaaaalted Caaaaaramelllsss….”¬† What could I do?¬† Here are some caramels for you, Mom.

I found a caramel recipe on line.¬† Candy-making is not my forte, but after over-cooking the first batch I learned a lot.¬† Tips I’ll be passing on to you!

For the caramels:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 2 1/4 cups brown sugar¬† (I only had 2 cups, so filled in the last 1/4 cup with granulated organic sugar.)
  • 1 cup corn syrup¬† (Please don’t hate me.¬† I usually avoid corn syrups, but for a yummy caramel with the proper texture, well, I had to.)
  • 1-14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the chocolate and salt parts:

  • 2-10-oz bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • sea salt¬† (I have 3 sea salts and a pink Himalyan salt.)

Butter an 8×8 pan, line it with parchment paper and butter it again.¬† The parchment will act as handles to help get the caramel block out of the pan.

Melt butter in a 4-6-quart pan over medium heat.

Add milk, sugar and corn syrup.

Stir until combined.  Place a candy thermometer on the pan so the tip is under the surface of the caramel-to-be, but not touching the bottom of the pan.

Stir constantly until the mixture reaches 242F.  Scrape the sides of the pan as you stir to prevent sugar crystals from forming. 

We pause here for the “Here’s what I learned making these caramels” part.¬† The original recipe says to¬†heat to 242-248F.¬† The first time I let it go to 250F.¬† Very bad–they turned into something I could not cut, I tried remelting and burned it.¬† There’s just no fixing it if it goes past the target temp.¬† This time, I cooked until 245F; thinking I’d split the difference of the recommended temperatures.¬† These caramels were cut-able and super yummy, if a bit on the chewy side.¬† Next time I make them I’m heading for the low end of recommended temperatures, to see if they will stay a bit less threatening to my fillings.¬† ūüėČ

OK, on with the caramels.  When the mixture reaches 242F, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.  Pour the mixture into the prepared pan, bounce it on the counter for a minute to help bubbles rise to the surface, and refrigerate until cooled.

Here’s more of what I learned:¬† The original recipe said to wait until cool, but not completely set, cut into 1″ pieces and return to the fridge until firm.¬† I tried this and they were so gooey, they stuck to my knife and then were kinda stretched out of shape and didn’t want to go back into their pan.¬† I¬†gave up after cutting just 3 rows, and found out letting them set until firm was easier to cut anyway.¬†¬†The bottom of the pan still felt a tiny bit warm to the touch.

So, lift caramels from the pan with the¬†parchment handles to a cutting board.¬† Cut into 1/2-1-inch pieces using a very sharp, buttered knife–I used a long chef’s knife.¬† The long cuts here are 1-inch apart.¬† I cut the first row into 8-1-inch pieces, but that seemed a bit too big to me, so from there on, I cut each row into 12 pieces.

Eat them just like this if you want.¬† You’ll want to wrap them individually or they will stick together.¬† Mr17 and I¬†tried them at this stage–yummy–just like a “real” caramel!¬† Or, gather¬†up your caramels and a few more things and head toward caramel nirvana!

Working with one bag of chips at a time, melt chocolate chips in the microwave in 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until smooth.

Stir in¬†1 tsp espresso powder per bag of chips.¬† You won’t taste the espresso much, it just makes the chocolate even more rich and chocolatey.

Dip caramels and place on wax paper.¬† I tried being neat about this process, using a toothpick stuck in the caramel to dip it into the chocolate.¬† The chocolate kept sucking the caramel off the toothpick, and I’d have to use my fingers to rescue it.¬† So I just ended up using my fingers.

While chocolate is still wet, sprinkle a few salt crystals on top of each caramel. After washing and thoroughly drying your fingers, of course.¬† ūüôā¬† ¬†

Pretty soon, you’ll have enough for everybody in the neighborhood!¬† I really like how the different colors look–very gourmet, don’t you think?!¬† The flavor of each is ever-so-slightly different, with the least salty being the black lava salt and the most salty being the regular sea salt.

Himalyan Pink is pretty,

but the Red ‘Alaea is my favorite.

Your friends will LOVE it if you share.¬† I save baby brie boxes; they’re perfect little candy boxes.

Heart-shaped boxes filled with these yummy salted caramels will make you the Valentine’s Day rock star!¬† Everyone I know loves dark-chocolatey, rich-caramely flavors, intensified by sea salt.¬† Yum-yum-yummy!¬†

Last thing I learned:¬† The original recipe mixed in 1 TBSP of butter with the chocolate, but reviews of the recipe indicated that the butter was problematic, so I left it out.¬† Everything worked fine, and the caramels taste uh-maze-ing, but they did dry kind of dull.¬† I’d like the chocolates to be a bit more glossy.¬† More experimenting?¬† Yummy!

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Celine’s Rosettes

The Norwegian part of my upbringing was mainly about cookies.  Oh yes, tis a blessing.

Rosettes are crisp, sweet and light.  It seems like Mom, my sister, Sonia, and I made about a million rosettes every holiday season.  They get started with a thin, waffle-like batter, and are fried in a light oil using a special iron.  

  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup flour

Mix flour and milk to a smooth batter.

Add salt, sugar and vanilla.

Lightly¬†beat egg and stir into the batter.¬† Do not whip-you don’t want a lot of bubbles in the batter.¬† Set batter aside to rest while you heat a light vegetable oil, such as canola, in a pot.¬† Also, prepare your work area right next to the hot oil with the batter, a plate for the oily chopstick and wooden spoon you’ll be using, a shallow bowl with powdered sugar (optional, but highly recommended), and a cooling rack.

¬†I like to use a fairly small pot with tall-ish sides, so I don’t need a ton of oil, and the splatters are mostly contained.¬† You’ll want a depth about 3 times the depth of the rosette iron, so you can keep it off the bottom while completely submerged.¬† The oil is hot enough when it boils around the handle of a wooden spoon.

Heat your iron really well; let it sit in the hot oil for 5 minutes or so.¬†¬†I got in a hurry, and ruined a couple because they stuck to the iron–how you’ll know if you didn’t heat the iron enough.¬† No big deal, just frustrating chipping the batter off the iron.¬† The little bits of rosette are yummy–eat the evidence if you find yourself in this situation.

When your iron is hot, dip it into the the batter, but not completely up to the top of the iron, or the cookie will not release even if the iron IS hot enough.

Submerge in the oil and fry until it begins to turn golden. 

Use a chopstick to help loosen the rosette and turn it over to fry the underside.¬† Leave the iron in the hot oil so it maintains its heat.¬† Place the chopstick through one of the holes to lift it from the oil.¬† All the steps involving hot oil were Mom’s part of making these cookies.

Place hot rosette in the powdered sugar and lightly coat both sides.¬† Place on a cooling rack to dry.¬† The sugaring part was my sister’s and my job.¬† We also excelled at snitching cookies from the rack.

Repeat!¬† You’ll be¬† getting into a groove.¬† Watch your rosette garden grow!¬†

As your batter gets shallow, it will not be deep enough to hold onto the iron.¬† Move it into a smaller bowl, still large enough in diameter to dip the iron.¬† Eventually you’ll get to a place where the iron will not hold the batter in the small bowl.¬† This is just the way it goes and I toss that last little bit.

Oh, aren’t they pretty?

This recipe makes two dozen, but is easily doubled.  Yup,  I could eat about a million of them.  So, so yummy!

What are traditional cookies at your house?

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Chocolate Shortbread Cookies (gluten-free version)

The schools I worked¬†in each had a¬†tradition of “treat days” the week prior to Winter Break.¬† The theory is, if you feed the teachers, they won’t eat the students.¬† (So far, so good.)¬† One year, a collegue brought in these absolutely killer chocolate cookies.¬† I asked for the recipe and have been making them ever since.¬† Perfect with coffee, perfect with red wine, perfect all by themselves.

I made these gluten-free for a friend, using a one-to-one rice flour mix substitute for regular flour.¬† (You can use regular flour in place of the rice flour mix if you don’t need them to be gluten-free, and leave out the xanthan gum.)¬†

  • 1 cup rice flour mix (recipe follows slide show)
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp finely ground black pepper (Yes!¬† Trust me!!!)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (use 1/2 cup grapeseed oil to make this recipe dairy-free as well)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP sugar (plus more for coating the cookies)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Before I launch into the recipe, I thought it might be nice to have some music to cook to.¬† For this recipe, I’m thinking Dean Martin; Sway in particular.¬† Enjoy!

Sift flour mix, cocoa powder, cinnamon, pepper, salt, and xanthan gum into a small bowl. 

Cream together butter and sugar.

Add vanilla and mix to combine.

Stir in flour and cocoa mixture.¬† Use your electric mixer.¬† Using a spoon or spatula just doesn’t work.¬† I know.¬†

I tried and ended up getting the mixer back out!  The dought will be dry and crumbly at first.  When it starts coming together, knead it until dark and supple.

Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper, to a thickness of approximately 1/4-inch thick.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 275F.  Lightly butter (OR line with parchment paper or silpats) one or two baking sheets.

Cut out the cookies with a 1 1/2-2-inch cutter.¬† I chose a little heart, because my very wise sister mentioned the other night that some people¬†(like her) live in places where it is difficult to find certain ingredients, and if you want to plan something¬†special for an occasion, Valentine’s Day for instance, you need a bit of a head’s up.¬† So those of you already making plans, this is an awesome Valentine’s cookie!¬†¬†Pierce each cookie twice with the tines of a fork.

Place sugar on a plate or in a bowl wide enough to fit the cookies.  Lightly press each cookie into the sugar so that the sugar clings to the surface.

Collect the trimmings back into a ball,

and re-roll (still between waxed paper).  As the dough warms up, it will be more difficult to work with.  Coat your cutter in sugar before each cut.  Re-refrigerate if needed.

Arrange cookies, sugar-side up, on prepared baking sheets, spacing at least 1/2-inch apart.  (1-inch is better, I wanted to squeeze them all on one sheet.)

Bake 40 minutes, or until crisp and firm.  (Halfway through the cooking time, switch pans from top to bottom, front to back, for even cooking.  Not necessary if you have a convection oven.)

Cool on the sheets on racks for 5 minutes.

Remove to racks to cool completely. I highly recommend eating at LEAST one at this point.  Your kitchen, probably your whole house has been smelling like a chocolatey fudgy wonderland for the last 10 minutes or so.  You DESERVE one (or more) right now.

Then, arrange on a cute little plate, brew up a cuppa and indulge in the crisp, melt-in-your-mouth uber-chocolatey yumminess.¬† Do you taste the pepper there in the background?¬† Isn’t that uh-maze-ing?!

I posted¬†a picture of the chocolate shortbread cookies yesterday on Facebook and a friend commented that it made her want to lick her phone.¬† They truly are THAT yummy!¬† I took this batch up to one of our favorite wineries for a little party today.¬† So perfect with red wines; especially the spicy Petite Syrah….oh, yeeeaaahhh!¬† Yummy!

So what did you think about the music selection?  What would you pick to go with these cookies?

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  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour

Mix all the ingredients thouroughly and store in an air-tight container.

All of these ingredients, and the xanthan gum, can be found at health food stores and larger supermarkets.

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Sweet-Tooth Saturday: Tiramisu Drops

I have the world’s best hubby for lots of reasons,and here is one of the most recent.¬† While I was in New Mexico, he found a cookie recipe in the paper, cut it out, went to the store for ingredients, but never found the time to bake them.¬† You’re probably thinking it would have been nice had he baked.¬† But no.¬† If he¬†HAD baked, these would have been all gone by the time I got home!¬† So, so glad I got to bake them.¬†Gaze upon these melt-in-your-mouth tender¬†bites of¬†almond-coffee-flavored,¬†coffee-flavor-mascarpone-topped yumminess….oh,¬†man.

You know you want some.  Trot on out to the store for any ingredients you need and get baking!

  • 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp instant espresso powder (or coffee powder)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 3/4 cups¬†flour
  • 8 oz tub mascarpone cheese (Michael found tiramisu (coffee)¬†flavored mascarpone–I HIGHLY recommend it if you can find it! Yum!)
  • 3 TBSP pwdered sugar, divided
  • 1 TBSP cocoa powder (see note towards the end of the recipe)
  • shaved chocolate, if desired, to decorate.

Preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats.

In a food processor, pulse almonds and granulated sugar together until finely ground, but not a paste.

Add butter and vanilla; pulse to combine.

Add espresso powder, salt and flour.  Pulse until a crumbly dough is formed, scraping sides as needed. 

This¬†will be a dough that¬†will only hold together when pressed into a ball in your hands…and just barely.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on prepared baking sheets.  Use your finger or the handle of a wooden spoon to press an indentation in the top of each cookie.  I had to sort of hold each cookie with one hand while making the indentation with the other to prevent the cookie ball from crumbling.  I used the knuckle of my index finger to make the indents.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden and firm.  Allow to cool on the baking sheets.

In a medium bowl, stir the mascarpone together with 2 TBSP of the powdered sugar. 

 Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag or (what I did) a ziploc bag with a corner snipped off.  Pipe a dollop of filling into the indentation of each cooled cookie.

Sift the remaining 1 TBSP powdered sugar with the cocoa powder.¬† NOTE: 1 tsp of each is plenty–I had quite a bit of the topping left over.¬† Sift over the tops of the cookies, top with shaved chocolate, if desired.¬† I moved the cooled cookies to racks so any excess topping would fall through and be easily swept up from the counter.

Aren’t they pretty?

Brew yourself some coffee and treat yourself to a cookie or two…or maybe three…

Tiramisu Drops have a shortbread-like texture and are the perfect having-the-girls-over-for-coffee treat.¬† They’re also the perfect hint-of-sweetness bite after a meal.¬† Actually, they’re delicious when you’re sipping coffee while making breakfast.¬† Chances are, if you make these and have one while making breakfast, we’ll be having coffee together…in different places.¬† Yummy.

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