Oh Sweet Day!

Peach Cupcake

July 7, 2014 by Fanny | 10 Comments

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Summer fruits are my love. They are sweeter, more colorful and tons of varieties. Besides berries, my favourites are stone fruits, especially peaches and nectarines.

I love to cut them in small pieces and put them in plain yogurt for a refreshing and healthy breakfast. They are great for making popsicles or sorbet too. Even in baked good, like these cupcakes.

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These cupcakes are light, moist and very fruity, perfect base for the sweet and peachy buttercream. The cake itself would be great as breakfast muffins too.

Ingredients (12 regular sized cupcakes):

Peach Vanilla Cake
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup diced firm peaches
Peach Whipped Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup peach puree
1 to 2 drops of peach food coloring paste
 

Directions:

Preheat over to 350F. Grease muffin tin or line with muffin liners.

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar until well combined. Gradually add oil and vanilla, mix until just blended.

With the mixer on low, slowly add half the flour mixture; mix until just blended. Add the buttermilk, mix until just blended. Slowly add remaining flour mixture, scraping down sides of the bowl with a spatula, as necessary, until just blended.

Fold in diced peaches.

Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Transfer muffin tin to oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer muffin tin to a wire rack and let cupcakes cool completely.

To prepare the frosting, beat butter for a few minutes with a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed.  Add powdered sugar and turn your mixer on the lowest speed until the sugar incorporates with the butter.  Add vanilla, heavy cream and peach puree, continue mixing until incorporated. Increase mixer speed to medium high, beat for another 5 to 8 minutes until light and fluffy.

Transfer frosting to a large pastry bag fitted with a preferred tip and frost the cupcakes. Garnish with a sliced of firm peach on each cupcake.

12 Summer Fruit Dessert

July 1, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Check out 12 Summer Fruit Dessert

by Oh Sweet Day! at Foodie.com

We are all suckers of fresh berries. Strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry…My kids eat berries by bowls. I have to keep that bowl of blueberries away during meal time, so they won’t be distracted and focus on that plate of pasta.

The thing is it’s kind of okay if your kids prefer eating berries over the sandwich or pasta. At least it feels okay because fruits are not junk food. You want them to eat fruits instead of candies or chips. So be generous and buy lots of summer fruits, feed your family or use them to cook or bake.

Summer fruits are full of vibrant colours, aromatic flavour and delicious taste. I love to bake with them, decorate my cakes with them, or just look at them. Trust me, it will make you happier!

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First Row

Mango Mousse Cake

Cherry and Walnut Buttermilk Cake

Fresh Mango, Coconut and Lime Ice Cream

Second Row

Chocolate Strawberry Mousse Tartlet

Fresh Mango and Strawberry Popsicle

Chocolate and Strawberry Mousse Cake

Third Row

Lemon Blueberry and White Chocolate Cream Cake

Fresh Berry Tart with Vanilla Pastry Cream

Blueberry Cream Pie

Fourth Row

Chocolate Cake with Mango Mousse and Nutella Panna Cotta

Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Ultimate Blueberry Cupcake

This post is brought to you by Foodie.com.

Fresh Mango and Strawberry Popsicle

June 29, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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Make these and your kids will love you more! I guarantee you!

Summer holidays started a little sooner that I expected, thanks to the teacher strike. And what happens now is every few days my house will become a day camp where my kids and their friends hang around at the backyard, splashing in the pool, scooching down the water slide, climbing tree, and having sweet treats, like these popsicles.

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Fresh, fruity, natural, fun, eye-catchy, versatile…these frozen treats are perfect for the whole world. Instead of mixing the fruit puree together, I decided to go for a fun striped effect by layering mango puree and strawberry puree and freezing them in stages. You can use any kind of berries, or you can try peach, nectar, cherry, even citrus would be a great idea.

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Ingredients (6 to 8 popsicles):

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups fresh strawberry, hulled and halved
3 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
 

Directions:

In a saucepan, combine sugar and water. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Chill in refrigerator for an hour.

Puree cooled syrup, lemon juice and strawberries until smooth. Set aside.

Puree mango chunks until smooth. Strain and set aside.

Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of strawberry mixture into the bottom of the popsicle mold. Freeze for around 30 minutes until set.

Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of mango puree into the popsicle mold, on top of the strawberry layer. Freeze.

Push popsicle sticks into the frozen mango layer. Continue with the another layer of strawberry and mango.  Freeze until solid.

Mango Mousse Cake

June 24, 2014 by Fanny | 8 Comments

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This cake looks awesome and tasty and mango-licious, doesn’t it? And it’s true that every part of the cake was delicious. The mango mousse was smooth and flavourful. The mango glaze gave the cake an elegant look. Except the cake base. It was dense. Too dense. Not what I thought it would be, which should be airy and light.

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When I re-did it and tried to figure out what went wrong. I found out that the mousse, although it tasted incredibly yummy, it was a bit on the loose side. Not that it was liquidy, but it should have been a bit more solid. And that’s why the cake absorbed too much moisture when the un-set mousse mixture was poured over the cake base, and after hours of setting in the fridge, it became moist but overly dense.

And the reason why the mousse was not at its right consistency? Well, just because I didn’t have enough amount of gelatin, and was too eager to go ahead and make the cake anyway. HUGE.MISTAKE. I know I should know better considered how long I’ve been baking for. But you know, human beings do make stupid mistakes sometimes.

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So, follow through the recipe and use the right amount of ingredients! I’m saying this not just for making this cake, but for general cooking.

Ingredients (one 8-inch layered cake):

Sponge Cake
6 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Mango Mousse
3 cups mango puree,
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup water
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup fresh mango cubes
Mango Mirror Top
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2/3 cup and 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup mango puree
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325F. Line an un-greased 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper on the bottom. Set aside.

In a standing mixer with a whisk attachment, whip eggs and 1 cup of sugar on high speed for 5 minutes, until light and triple in volume.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt.

Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture on low speed, and mix until just incorporated.

Spoon about a cup of the cake batter into a bowl, and stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Add the mixture back to the cake batter and stir by hand until blended.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan evenly and smooth the top. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the centre of the cakes spring back when gently pressed. Let cool completely in the pans.

Run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Peel off the parchment paper, and slice the cake into 2 equal layers. And place one layer back at the bottom of the springform pan.

To prepare mango mousse, combine mango puree, sugar and lime juice in a bowl. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water, let stand for 5 minutes. Dissolve over medium-low heat, and stir into puree mixture. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Whip heavy cream until it becomes stiff. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into puree mixture. Then fold in remaining whipped cream.

Sprinkle the mango cubes over the cooled cake layer in the pan. Pour the mango mixture over. Smooth the top, place another layer on top of the mousse. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.

To prepare the mango mirror layer, dissolve gelatin in 2 tablespoons of water.

Combine remaining water and sugar in a saucepan and heat on medium low. Stirring continuously until sugar has completely dissolved.  Remove from heat when it starts to simmer then add the dissolved gelatin. Stir until the gelatin has completely melted. Add the mango puree and let cool at room temperature.

Once it has cooled down, pour the mixture slowly on top of the chilled mango cake that is still in the springform pan. Cover the top completely. Allow to set for 10 minutes in the fridge.

Keep the cake in refrigerator before serving.

To Ethan and Maya – You 2014

June 23, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Ethan and Maya,

2014 is just halfway through, and I couldn’t help but posted these pictures of yours. Because they totally represent your relationship over the past months. When I talked to other moms about how you both transitioned from fighting every minute to hanging together for hours peacefully, some of them with older kids tried to calm my excitement, and implied to me that this would say something very different in ten years when one kid steals the other’s phone and loses it. Or leave the other one to replace the toilet paper in the bathroom, or one of you hums that one song the other one hates and refuses to stop.

That reminded me “Or being on the phone for hours.” See? “The” phone. Singular. Kids, we grew up with only one phone and it was attached on the wall. And you know what, we lived through that.

One evening last week, you both were transitioning from one game to another: hide and seek, fort building, sliding across the hardwood floors in your socks and accidentally crashing a wall. Depending on the resulting thud and its volume, sometimes I just let it go and wouldn’t bother to check the amount of blood.

Then you both ran over to me on the couch. Maya, you brought your fists in front of you and asked Ethan to guess which hand you had a toy in. Except the toy was so big that you couldn’t fully wrap your hand around it and half of it was visible. I had to bury my mouth in a blanket to muffle my laughter. And you immediately whipped your head in my direction with a look on your face that suggested I was ruining your trick and could I please die slowly.

Ethan, you glanced knowingly at me and pointed at the hand holding the toy.

“UGGGGHHHHH! PICK AGAIN!” your sister grunted and shouted.

You blinked several times as if you couldn’t believe that you shared this kid’s DNA and touched the hand holding the toy.

“NO! PICK AGAIN!”

“THIS ONE! I SAID!”

Unable to comprehend why this was happening to you, Maya, you threw the toy three feet away and then started screaming angrily, “you keep picking that hand! You just keep picking it and picking it and picking it”

I couldn’t handle it any longer and started cackling. At one point, Ethan, you and I locked eyes for a very brief yet special moment. I could tell that you were so happy that I was there to witness this with you. The accidental hilarity that is your three-year-old sister.

Whatever happens in ten years, I will just enjoy what it is now. And this is the two of you side by side every day to create something magical.

Love,
Mommy

P.S. I looked back to your pictures of 2012 and 2013. And I think my ovaries just exploded.

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Hip Girl’s Buttermilk Cake & “The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen” GIVEAWAY

June 18, 2014 by Fanny | 29 Comments

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“Why do it yourself when it’s so easy to eat out or buy the package item? My answer to that question is quality, nutrition, and economic.” – “The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen”

I used to ask the same question over and over again when I was younger, career-minded, didn’t really think about starting my own family, and simply thought doing it myself was totally waste of time, not to mention I didn’t have the clue how to do it.

As I’ve become more mature, family-oriented and budget-conscious, I started to explore cooking at home. And now although I may not be a kitchen veteran, I am definitely not an amateur. And the transformation process has made me enjoy cooking so much that I started this blog, and let me come across with so many talented foodie friends across the Internet.

Today I came across with Kate Payne who wrote this great book called “The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen”. What I found this book really amazing is how it sums up all the cooking knowledge and techniques that I’ve obtained over years in the kitchen. I was reading this book, and I thought why it wasn’t created like 10 years ago. That is how long I spend in order to have myself equipped to become a confident cook.

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I truly believe Kate is a genuine kitchen veteran. Read her book and you will know that. Not that her book is going to cook dinner for you, but she shows you how to master basic cooking by giving you advice and instructions that you really need in your kitchen. Nothing fancy but practical and useful. You will need this book if you decide to start and enjoy your relationship with your kitchen.

Because this book is such a keeper, I’d like to give one lucky reader (US residents only) the chance to win a copy of “The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen” by Kate Payne. To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what cooking technique you would want to master, and why! All comments must be received by midnight on June 24, 2014 (Tuesday). Winner will be notified through a valid email address.

If you want to go ahead and buy a copy of ”The Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen” for yourself, you can do so here.  And hop over to Kate’s website, follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Now let’s talk about this cake, first it doesn’t require any mixer, blender or machine to make, except the oven of course. The whole process takes less than 20 minutes. And the result is an amazingly moist and flavourful cake. The original recipe from the book is the basic buttermilk cake that lets you improvise. Bake it with fruits, nuts or chocolate chips. Top it with buttercream, glaze or ganache. Or simply eat it plain. I just love its versatility!

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Ingredients (one regular loaf or 3 mini loaves):

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup and 1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup pitted fresh cherries, halved
1/2 cup chopped walnut
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a loaf pan or three mini loaf pans.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix oil, buttermilk, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla and egg until smooth. Then add to the flour mixture, and mix until combined.

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan(s). Cover with cherries.

Mix the walnuts with a teaspoon of sugar and sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake the cake for 30 minutes for a regular sized loaf or 20 minutes for mini loaves, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before serving.

Fresh Mango, Coconut and Lime Ice Cream

June 16, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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Make this when mangoes go on sale. And it means now in Vancouver BC, when you can easily and inexpensively buy lots of them, especially my favourite variety – Ataulfo mangoes. They have smooth texture, sweet taste and intense aroma. But you can use other varieties too.

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You can only focus on mangoes, forget about coconut and lime, and you will have a batch of super mango-licious frozen treat. But trust me, adding coconut and lime won’t compromise the mango flavour, but enhances the combination of the luscious and refreshing tropical goodness.

Ingredients (about 1 quart):

1 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
2 cups fresh mango puree
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan, combine coconut milk, heavy cream, 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Bring mixture to simmer, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.

Whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar in a medium bowl until pale, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in half of the warm cream mixture, mix until blended. Stir yolk mixture into the remaining cream mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Strain custard into another medium bowl, let cool over a bowl of ice water, or chill in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally.

Whisk the mango puree and lime juice into the chilled custard.

Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container, cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.

Garnish with lime zest when serving.

To Ethan – Your golfy and geeky father

June 13, 2014 by Fanny | 4 Comments

Dear Ethan,

When your father and I were still trying to figure out the whole parenthood thing, I did feel that it was lopsided, that the mother has to suffer all sorts of unimaginable pain to bring the child into the world while the father gets to sit to the side, smoke cigars, and pat the kids on the butt from time to time. Then the back pains and bleeding and crying and sleep deprivation and depression and anxiety and cracked nipples and hard, hard, uncomfortable breasts.

Now, we’ve started to figure it out, I have to say that that’s not an entirely accurate depiction. Not of our roles in your life.

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Your father’s main contribution to your life, aside from his very potent sperm (he looked at me naked and we got pregnant), is the time and patience he devotes to doing THINGS with you. Things that you are very interested in, but will never be able to participate if not for your father, because I am NOT interested in. Like golfing, watching golf, counting golf balls, collecting golf tees, taking out and putting back the golf clubs. Those kind of things.

Your father puts you to bed every night. Sometimes you guys do math or play Lego. Sometimes he reads you a book. Recently you’ve started to request him to read you comic books. And I could only imagine one night I would peep in your room, and you guys would be talking about computer OS and Mac applications. I started to realize his contribution is as vital as mine.

Happy Father’s Day to your very geeky father.

Love,
Mommy

Father’s Day Golf Cake

June 12, 2014 by Fanny | 6 Comments

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Like I said, my relation to golfing, or my husband’s obsession with golfing is awful. Part of the reason is because I don’t find watching golf entertaining. What I see is a few guys walking on a large green and…oh! That’s all! That’s all I can see on any golfing games. If I am lucky, I might be able to see a tiny white dot flying across the sky. But that’s very rare.

I don’t know why he keeps doing this, but any time he starts to talk about golf, my eye balls will roll to the very back of my head. He doesn’t seem to understand the fact that I AM NOT INTERESTED!

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Why did I still make him a golf cake? Well, because it’s Father’s Day. Because he’s my children’s No.1 Dad. Because he totally deserves it.

Ingredients (one 5-inch 3-layer cake):

Chocolate Cake
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water
Whipped Vanilla Buttercream
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Drops of leaf green food coloring paste
Others
1 white gum ball or 1 small white cake pop
 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease three 5-inch cake pan, and line bottoms with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Crack in the egg, spoon in the sour cream, and pour in the oil and the vanilla. Mix with a wooden spoon until just combined.

Pour in the boiling water, and slowly mix until smooth and liquidy.

Divide batter evenly among the prepared cake pans. Transfer pans to oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely.

To prepare buttercream, beat butter for a few minutes in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Add powdered sugar and turn the mixer on low, beat until the sugar incorporates with the butter. Add vanilla and heavy cream, beat on medium speed for another 3 minutes, or until buttercream becomes light and fluffy. Add drops of food coloring, continue mixing until the color is evenly distributed.

To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on your serving plate and spread with 1/4 cup of the buttercream. Place another cake layer on top, and gently press down a little bit. Spread with another 1/4 cup of the buttercream. Place the last layer of cake on top, smear the remaining buttercream on the top and sides of the cake.

Use a big round piping tip to press a circle on the top cake layer, twist slightly, and slowly pull it back up. Remove the entire cake circle. Slightly press the inside of the circle to flatten the crumbs.

Fill a piping bag with a grass tip or hair tip, and start piping the frosting on the top cake layer and side of the bottom of the cake. Squeeze the bag, pull up and away when frosting strand is long enough, stop pressure and pull tip away.

Place a gum ball or a cake pop on the grass frosting.

Cover and refrigerate the cake. Leave out in room temperature for at least an hour prior to serving.

Chocolate Dipped Honeycomb Brittle

June 9, 2014 by Fanny | 12 Comments

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My all-time favourite home-made foodie gift is English toffee. It’s buttery and nutty. And if you are a fan of Almond Roca, you will fall for it. Same as English coffee, honeycomb brittle is so simple to make, and it’s another perfect gift to take to a dinner party. Better than chocolate, which people tend to nicely smile at, but put away in a cabinet, either forget about it very soon or keep thinking whom it should be given away to.

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Honeycomb brittle tastes like Crunchie Bar. It has an interesting airy texture caused by adding baking soda into hot syrup. The bubbles created are trapped to form a crisp, light and melt-in-your-mouth candy. And the holes in the candy give it a honeycomb appearance.

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You can have the brittle on its own. But since it’s sort of a light candy, it’s less guilty to make it more awesome. I dipped the cool candy in melted dark chocolate to make it more scrumptious and impressive. Although most of my friends and family who tasted it had a hard time telling what exactly it was, they went, “OH MY GOD! It’s so good. What is it? How did you make it?” I know, who really cares what it is!

Ingredients (about 20 pieces):

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon baking soda
800 gram dark chocolate
 

Directions:

Prepare a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bring sugar, corn syrup, honey and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 300 degrees.

Remove from heat, and whisk in baking soda until combined and mixture bubbles. When it has almost stopped bubbling, gently and quickly pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet without spreading. Let cool. Break into pieces.

Melt chocolate. Use a fork to dip each piece of brittle into the chocolate. Lightly tap the fork to remove any excess. Use a pairing knife to push the brittle off the fork and onto the baking sheet.

Place the brittle into the refrigerator for 10 minutes and let the chocolate harden. 

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