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Whoopie Pumpkien Pies

Whoopie Pumpkien Pies

Fall is quickly approaching and I am starting to see pumpkins and Halloween decorations all over the place. If you follow my blog then you know that I am a huge pumpkin fan. I love everything pumpkin…pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies and now…Whoopie Pumpkin Pies. I found these little babies in Food Network Magazine and the recipe moved straight to the top of my very long “to do” list. (Do you notice how these “to do” lists never get any shorter) Anyway, these Whoopie pies are wonderful!

When I was making the cookie batter I got a little worried because, after I added the buttermilk, it looked like the batter was starting to separate. But once I started adding the dry ingredients everything came together beautifully, so no need to worry. Also, the flavor of the filling slowly intensifies so these can easily be made a day in advance. I wrapped each cookie in plastic wrap to keep them fresh and to prevent them from sticking together, then in a large Tupperware container and into the refrigerator. I also took half of the finished cookies and stuck them in the freezer. It turns out that they freeze really well, just let them thaw in the refrigerator. I hope you enjoy these babies as much as we have.

Whoopie Pumpkin Pies

Whoopie Pumpkin Pies

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

Pinch of kosher salt

For the filling:

4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

2/3 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 cup canned pure pumpkin

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

To make the cookies: In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside. Using a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then the buttermilk and vanilla. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mixing just until combined.

Drop 2 tablespoons of batter for each cookies to be made, onto prepared baking sheet, spacing batter 3 inches apart. Bake until edges are set but the cookies are still soft, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a baking rack and cool completely.

To make the filling: Beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer until smooth. Slowly beat in the confectioners sugar. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon and salt and beat until smooth.

To assemble the cookies, spread a heaping tablespoon filling onto the flat side of one cookie and sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Enjoy.

Source: Food Network Magazine, The Neelys’

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Cookie Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my favorite baking books is The Good Cookie book which was given to me a long time ago. This is my “go to” cookie book and I have used it time and time again. I particularly love this Cookie Shop Chocolate Chip Cookie because it has rolled oats in the dough. What’s not to like about wonderful oats:)  Helpful hint: when shaping the dough try to handle as little as possible. If the dough becomes warm, it is more likely to spread and the cookies will loose their shape.

Oats and chocolate chip

Ground oats and chips

Ingredients:

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels, divided

1 cup (2 sticks) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature 

Directions:

Place two racks near the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In the bowl of a food processor, combine oats and 1/2 cup chocolate morsels and process until finely ground, about 45 seconds. Stir the oat mixture into the flour mixture and set aside.

In the bowl of an electrical mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract at medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides as needed. At low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the remaining 2 cups chocolate morsels.

Measure out rounded tablespoonfuls of dough and, using wet hands, roll each portion into a ball. Arrange balls 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Flatten the balls into 1 3/4 inch disks.

Bake the cookies, two sheets at a time, for 9 to 13 minutes, just until golden brown. Switch positions of the baking sheets halfway through baking time. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Cookie Shop Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: slightly adapted from The Good Cookie

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Florentine ew

I first made these Italian cookies for Christmas a couple of years ago and it was Love at first bite. Since then, they have become a “several times a year, kinda thing” at our house and they dissapear faster than any other cookie I make. They are nutty and crispy with a hint of orange, 2 cookies held together with a generous layer of chocolate. Orange and chocolate, does it get any better than that?

Almonds

Almonds

Danish Christmas Tradition: St. Lucia (Saint Lucy’s Day)

St. Lucia is believed to be a saint who suffered a martyr’s death around AD 310. The tradition of celebrating St. Lucia was imported from Sweden during WWII as a passive protest against the German occupation. St. Lucia is celebrated on December 13th and it is seen as a procession lead by one girl wearing a crown of candles on her head followed by other girls who hold a single candle in their hands. All the girls are dressed in white and they sing “Sankta Lucia” while walking slowly and carefully. The St. Lucia procession is performed in schools, hospitals and nursing homes where they bring great joy and excitement.

Bring to a rolling boil

Bring to a rolling boil

Florentine Cookies (makes 28 small sandwiched cookies)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups sliced blanched almonds (200 gram or 7 oz)

3 tbsp all-purpose flour

zest of 1 orange (about 2 tbsp)

1/4 tsp fine salt

3/4 cup sugar (155 gram or 5.4 oz)

2 tbsp heavy cream

2 tbsp light corn syrup

5 tbsp unsalted butter (70 gram or 2.5 oz)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

6 oz semisweet chocolate (170 gram)

Directions:

Position a rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped, but not pasty. Stir together the almonds, flour, zest and salt in a large bowl.

Put the sugar, cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a rolling boil and sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, then pour mixture into almond mixture and stir just until combined. Set aside until cool enough to handle, 30 minutes.

Scoop rounded teaspoons  (for 3 inch cookies) or rounded tablespoons (for 6 inch cookies) of batter and roll into balls. Place on prepared baking sheets, leaving 3 to 4 inches between each cookie since they spread.

Bake 1 pan at a time, until the cookies are thin and even golden brown color, rotating pan halfway through baking time, about 8 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

Chop semisweet chocolate and place in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring a saucepan filled with 1 inch water to a simmer and set bowl filled with chocolate over the saucepan, making sure bowl is not touching water. Stir chocolate occasionally until melted and smooth.

Drop a generous amount of melted chocolate (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) onto the flat side of a cookie and press together with a second cookie to form a sandwich. Return to rack and let chocolate set completely.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Florentine Cookies

Florentine Cookies

Source: Food Network Kitchen

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Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Jam Thumbprint cookies are a regular visitor in our home at Christmas time. It has been my son’s favorite ever since he was a little boy and they always seem to simply just disappear. Use whatever your favorite jam is. What I used this time was strawberry, cherry and a wonderful jam containing apricot, peach and passion fruit which have become wildly popular here at our house. Also, it is not an accident (well it actually is….but it’s not) that the recipe calls for both vanilla bean as well as vanilla extract. I did that totally by accident one year because I misread the recipe but it turned out even better, so ever since then I have used both. But if you don’t have the vanilla bean on hand just go with the extract, they still turn out great.  🙂

Thumbprint Cookies (makes 37 cookies)

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (230 g)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 whole stick or 113 g), at room temperature

2/3 cup sugar (140 g), plus more for rolling

1 large egg

1 vanilla bean – seeds scraped from pod (optional)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup of your favorite jam (strawberry, cherry etc)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.

In another bowl, whip the butter and sugar with an electrical mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla bean (if using) and the vanilla extract until combined. Slowly beat in the dry ingredients in 2 additions, mixing just until incorporated.

Scoop the dough into a 1 inch ball, toss in the extra sugar and roll using the palm of your hands. Place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Press a thumbprint (or I use a 1/2 teaspoon measuring spoon) into the center of dough ball, about 1/2 inch deep. Fill indentation with about 3/4 teaspoon jam.

Bake cookies until edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Rotate the pans from top to bottom about halfway through baking. Cool cookies on the baking sheets. Enjoy.

Store cookies in a tightly sealed container.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

1/2 teaspoon measuring tool makes indenting the cookies easy

Fill with your favorite jam

Source: adapted from Food Network

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Vaniljekranse

Vaniljekranse

Vaniljekranse is a traditional Danish cookie made in the weeks leading up to Christmas.  I have very fond memories of helping my Mom and Dad make vaniljekranse when I was a little girl. It’s a fun process of the dough coming out of the grinder into strips, cutting the strips into pieces and forming them into circles. The cookies have a sweet vanilla flavor and are slightly crunchy on the outside. Making Vaniljekranse makes for wonderful Danish family “hygge” (coziness).

Vaniljekranse are not difficult to make, however, it took some doing to actually make it happen. The reason being, that in Denmark there is an attachment to your meat grinder that has a star shape on it. So the dough is run through the meat grinder with the star attachment. I could probably just have used a pastry bag with a star tip, I tried it, but it takes a lot of muscle to get the dough out. The other option would be to use a cookie press and you can get some sort of circle pattern, but I really wanted to show the making of this cookie the authentic way.

Vaniljekranse

Vaniljekranse

So I described the attachment to my wonderful husband Joe, he looked at the thickness of the meat grinder discs, and him being a Blacksmith and all, he was able to fabricate the disc for me…Yeah! My wonderful husband is so brilliant, I think I’ll keep him  🙂  He helped me make this cookie the authentic way. Thanks Joe.

Update: I have since then been able to buy a star attachment in Bilka in Denmark while we were home for a visit, it fits my KitchenAid mixer perfectly.

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Star attachment for KitchenAid

Vaniljekranse

Ingredients:

375 grams flour (13 oz)

125 grams cornstarch (4.4 oz)

375 grams salted butter (13 oz)

100 grams slivered almonds (3.5 oz)

250 grams sugar (8.8 oz)

1 vanilla bean

2 teaspoon vanilla powder

1 egg

Directions:

Place slivered almonds in food processor and blend until a powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl add flour and cornstarch, blend together. Cut butter into small pieces, add butter to flour mixture and blend together on low-speed with a handheld mixer until it starts to become crumbly. Cut open vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. Add vanilla seeds, vanilla powder, almonds and sugar, blend to combine. Add egg and mix to combine. Using your hands, press mixture together until it forms a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 390 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using the star attachment for your meat grinder, pastry bag or cookie press to form your cookies. Traditionally, you will use a star attachment for your meat grinder. Cut dough into small segments and load into the meat grinder. Run the dough through the star attachment into long strips, place dough onto floured surface. Then cut dough into 4 inch long pieces and form into circle. Place on prepared baking sheets.  Bake in the middle of oven for 8 minutes or until slightly golden. Cool on baking sheets.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Ground up slivered almonds

Dough coming out of grinder

Strips of dough

Vaniljekranse

Source: adapted from my Mother’s recipe

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Coconut Macaroon

Coconut Macaroon

Coconut Macaroons are one of Joe’s absolute favorite cookies and I am right there with him. They are simply delicious! Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside and they could not be any easier to make. If you like, you can dip the bottom of the cookies in melted chocolate. I do half and half since Joe likes the addition of the chocolate, I however, thinks it takes away from the coconut flavor. Coconut Macaroons do not belong exclusively to Christmas time but they are likely to show up in our house anytime of the year. If you enjoy coconut then I’m sure you’ll love these wonderful little treats.

Coconut Macaroon

Coconut Macaroon

Danish Christmas Tradition: Kalenderlyset (Calendar Candle) and Juledekorationer (Christmas Center Pieces)

In addition to the Advent Reef, in Denmark we also have Calendar Candles which play in important role in the days leading up to Christmas. This tradition became popular under the German occupation in 1942 when Denmark was blanketed in darkness. The candle has the numbers 1 thru 24 printed on it and you light it every day just long enough to burn down one number. Once the candle is burned down to the 24th, it’s Christmas. Back home in Denmark, we would light our calendar candle at the breakfast table and one of us kids got to blow out the candle before it burned down too far.

In Denmark it is also tradition to either buy or make Juledekorationer which are centerpieces with one or multiple candles. My parents always made our own and my Dad really got carried away with this task. We would typically end up with three or four beautiful juledekorationer placed at different locations throughout the house. When making the juledekorationer you can pretty much let your imagination run wild. You can use items like pine cones, cinnamon sticks, small christmas bulbs, bows and fresh greens (pine, holly etc). The juledekoration with its candles bring a calming, beautiful focal point into the room and a sense of that all important Danish “Hygge” (coziness) is created.

This juledecoration was given to me by my Danish friend Kaja

Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups (9 ounces) sweetened shredded coconut

Direction:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an insulated baking sheet (or use 2 baking sheets stacked on top of one another).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, flour and vanilla extract until well blended. Stir in coconut.

Using a 1-tablespoon measuring spoon,  drop the dough into mounds on prepared sheet, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges and a few strands of coconut on the tops of the cookie start to turn golden. Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheet on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Once the cookies are cooled completely, you can dip the bottom of the cookie in melted chocolate, if you desire.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. Cookies are best on the day they are made.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Piled like a haystack

Right out of the oven Coconut Macaroon

Source: The Good Cookie by Tish Boyle

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Danish Pebernødder

Danish Pebernødder

Pebernødder is a natural part of Christmas in Denmark and there is almost always a small bowl of Pebernødder accompanying the afternoon or evening coffee/tea time. Pebernødder may also be found in decorative paper cones (kræmmerhuse) which are hung on the Christmas tree and pebernødder are also used in Childrens games. Although Pebernødder can be found in practically any store in Denmark, it’s really a fun activity to bake them at home, espically if you have younger children in your household. Baking with your children at Christmas time is an activity that brings closeness and hygge into the home (“hygge” danish word meaning coziness, togetherness, warmth). Kids love rolling the dough into long rolls and cutting them up into bite size pieces, not to mention the added benefit of getting first dips on tasting the cookies once out of the oven. Baking was one of my favorite activities with my parents when I was growing up and they are memories I’ll treasure forever.

Pebernødder is thought to be the oldest Christmas cookie in Denmark and it came, like so many things, from Germany (Pfeffernussen). Directly translated Pebernødder means pepper nuts. In the old days “to pepper” meant to season and they were reffered to as nuts because there was no baking soda back then and so the cookies were hard like nuts. Todays Pebernødder is not hard like nuts but rather crunchy and mildly spicy. Some Pebernødder recipes will have a small amount of white pepper in them, just enough to leave a warm sensation on your tongue, this one does not. This particular recipe is a little milder with a warm cardamom flavor.

Pebbernødder hygge

Pebernødder dough

Pebernødder

Ingredients:

80 gram salted butter (6 tablespoons)

225 gram sugar (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon)

1 egg

1 deciliter whipping cream (1/2 cup)

350 gram flour (3 cups) (add more flour if needed to bring dough together)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

Directions:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees C (400 degrees F). Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cardomom and set aside.

In your mixer using the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar until creamy and smooth. Add egg and mix. Then add whipping cream and mix. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix just until combined. Remove dough from mixing bowl onto a floured surface. Using your hands bring dough together, adding a little more flour if needed until it holds together and forms a ball. Divide dough into smaller pieces and roll into long rolls measuring the width of your fingers. Cut into 1 1/2 centimeter pieces. Place on baking sheets about 1 inch apart and bake for approximately 12 minutes until just turning golden.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Pebbernødder Christmas parade

Source: Faster Philip

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Sparkling Linzer Stars

Sparkling Linzer Stars

I first saw the Sparkling Linzer Star recipe in Better Homes and Gardens magazine many years ago. The cookies are so festive and Christmasy and the process of assembling them is a lot of fun.  The recipe calls for both regular flour and whole wheat flour which makes it a little healthier, but I suppose you could just use all-purpose flour if you’re not into that sort of thing. Make sure to use a generous portion of seedless raspberry jam to increase the “delish” factor.

Flettede julestjerne

Danish Christmas Tradition: Juletræet (The Christmas Tree)

The Christmas Tree tradition has very old roots dating back to at least St. Boniface of Geismar, Germany. There are so many variations of this tradition depending on where in the world your located. In Danmark it’s tradition to put up and decorate the tree on Dec 23rd, although a lot of people now wish to put the tree up earlier. My parents would decorate the tree in the evening of the 23rd (little Christmas Eve) after my siblings and I were sent off to bed. The excitement was so intense that I could barely sleep and waking up to see the beautiful tree the following morning was almost magical. Old tradition for the Danish Christmas Tree is to decorate it with live candles, small Danish flags on a string, the children’s homemade braided paper hearts (flettede hjerter), paper cones (kræmmerhuse), braided stars (flettede stjerner) and some glass bulbs. Christmas in Denmark is celebrated on the eve of Dec 24th. The day of the 24th is spent waiting in anticipation, snacking on fruits, nuts and candy. A light but extra delicious lunch. Family oriented Christmas programs are on TV to help pass the time and finally after a spectacular dinner the time has come. It is time to form a circle around the tree, holding hands and sing Christmas hymns and Christmas songs while dancing around the Christmas tree. The tradition of dancing around the Christmas tree dates back to approximately 1830’s and it’s a tradition seen in Denmark, Norway and Sweden. After everyone has lost their breath from singing and dancing it is finally time to open the presents. And so you see, the glorious Christmas tree plays quite an important role to help create Danish Christmas Hygge.

Sparkling Linzer Stars Ingredients

Sparkling Linzer Stars

Ingredients:

1-1/3 cups butter

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

powdered sugar (optional)

Star cutouts

Centers cut out

Seedless Raspberry jam

Directions:

Beat butter in a large bowl on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt. Beat until combined. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until well combined. Beat in as much of both kinds of flour as you can, stir in remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for 1 hour or until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll each portion of dough on a floured surface until 1/8 inch thick. Cut into shapes using star cutters (I used a 4 inch and a 1-1/4 inch). Transfer 4 inch cutout cookie dough to prepared cookie sheets. Using the smaller 1-1/4 inch cookie cutter, cut out center from half of the unbaked cookies; remove centers and reroll dough to make more cookies.

Bake in preheated oven for 7-9 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very light brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, cool.

Spread the bottom of each solid cookie with a generous amount of raspberry jam. If desired, sift powdered sugar over the cookies with the cutout centers and place atop cookies with raspberry jam, sugar side up. Store in covered container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Glædelig Jul and Merry Christmas♥

Linzer Stars

Linzer Stars

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

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Kyskager - Meringue Cookies

Kyskager – Meringue Cookies

Who doesn’t love Meringue cookies. Light, fluffy, crunchy and oh so sweet little tasty treats and good for you and they contain no fat what so ever 🙂 Meringue cookies are called Kyskager in Danish and they are always a popular cookie on the coffee table, especially with the children.

These cookies are really fun to make. Yeah you get all sticky, at least I did, but the piping is awesome. Helpful hints: it’s easier to separate the egg whites from the yolks when the eggs are cold. Once separated make sure egg whites are brought up to room temperature before making the meringue. Make sure your bowl and beaters are very clean. If there is grease on your equipment it will prevent the egg whites from expanding. Store meringue cookies in a dry airtight container.

Kyskager - Meringue Cookies

Kyskager – Meringue Cookies

Ingredients:

 4 whole egg whites, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

10 drops food coloring

Directions:

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electrical mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Beat in extract and food color until blended. Spoon meringue into pastry bag and pipe out cookies onto parchment paper about 1 inch apart. If you don’t have a pastry bag with tip attachments, you can use a ziplock bag by snipping off one corner of the bag or you can simply drop the meringue onto the parchment paper by the teaspoon full. The meringue cookies will fill up 2 large baking sheets. Bake both sheets of cookies at the same time for 45 minutes. Turn the oven off. Let the meringues stay in the oven for 1 hour or until cool.

Source: Tasty Kitchen

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