Archive for Other Desserts

Apple Baklava

If you’ve visited my “kitchen” before, you’ll know there is probably no dessert I won’t like. 😉  Baklava is no exception.  A bite of the sweet nutty filling sandwiched between crispy, buttery phyllo dough with a gooey honey syrup is like heaven in your mouth.

I also love most apple desserts — apple pie, turnover, donuts, cobbler, cake — there are so many delicious things you can make with apples.

This recipe is a combination of apple pie and baklava.  It’s the sweet, nutty, syrupy stickiness of baklava with the flavors of apples and apple pie spices.

Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

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 Use a total of 3 cups of your favorite nuts.  Because I’m adding apples, I omitted the pistachio nuts traditional in baklava and used only pecans and walnuts.

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Toasting the nuts in the oven for a few minutes brings out the natural oils in the nuts and intensifies the nuttiness.
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Pulse the nuts for a couple of minutes in a food processor until finely chopped.
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Add brown sugar and cinnamon to the chopped nuts.
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The nut mixture smells so good already!

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Peel and core two small apples, three if you want more apples in the baklava.  I used granny smith apples in this recipe but your favorite apples will do.

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Slice the apples into very thin slices.  Squeeze a little bit of lemon or lime juice over the sliced apples to keep them from browning.

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 Now this is the tricky part — working with phyllo dough.

A frozen package of phyllo dough usually has two rolls of dough in it.  You will need one roll of phyllo dough for this recipe.  One roll of dough has about 25 sheets.

Phyllo dough dries out very quickly when left uncovered, making them quite brittle.

Defrost the dough at room temperature then carefully unroll it until the sheets are flat.  The dough comes pre-wrapped in parchment or wax paper, but there isn’t enough parchment paper to completely encase the dough.  Wrap the dough with plastic wrap so that it’s completely covered, then place a very damp kitchen towel over the plastic-wrapped dough.

DO NOT prepare the phyllo dough until you’re ready to start layering your baklava.
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Spray the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking pan with butter flavored cooking spray.

The baklava is made by alternating layers of phyllo dough, nuts, apples, then more nuts.

Begin by placing several sheets of phyllo dough in the bottom of the pan.  You’ll need 6 sheets of dough for each layer.

Place one sheet of dough on the bottom of the pan.  Spray the surface of the dough with butter-flavored cooking spray.  You can use melted butter instead of the spray, but I’m trying to cut back on the calories from butter.  Butter spray works just fine in this recipe, but if you use melted butter, use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter over each sheet of phyllo dough.

Each sheet of dough is larger than the 8×8 pan, so after spraying the top, fold over any excess dough and spray once more over the un-sprayed part.  Repeat the layering process until you’ve used six sheets of phyllo dough (dough-spray-fold excess-spray-repeat).

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Spread a half cup of the nut mixture over the layer of dough.
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Add a layer of apple slices over the nuts.

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Add another half cup of nuts over the apple slices.
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Repeat the layering two more times. Each full layer consists of six sheets of phyllo dough, followed by nuts, then apples, then more nuts.

Don’t forget to spray each layer of dough with butter spray, or brush melted butter on each one.

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After adding your last layer combination of dough-nuts-apples-nuts, you should have about 6 or 7 sheets of phyllo dough left.  These last few sheets go on the top of the baklava.  Layer them as before, ensuring you spray each one or brush with melted butter.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into 16 pieces.  It’s essential you cut the baklava before baking it.  The baked phyllo dough is very crispy so cutting BEFORE baking will make things easier. 🙂
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Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

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While the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup.  Although I love the nuts and apples and the crisp phyllo dough, I think the syrup is what makes baklava so special.

Traditional baklava syrup is usually made with a mixture of honey and fragrant rosewater, and sometimes with the added zest of lemons and oranges.

Because I want the flavors of apple pie, I’m making a syrup of honey, sugar, water, lemon extract, cinnamon (I use a cinnamon stick in the syrup since I added lots of ground cinnamon to the nut mixture), whole cloves, and a tiny bit of ground ginger.

Place all the ingredients into a pot, bring it to a boil over low heat, and cook until the syrup reduces by half.

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 Once the syrup reduces by half, set it aside to cool.  I poured the syrup into a measuring cup so that I could easily pour it over the baked baklava.

Be sure to remove the cinnamon stick and cloves!

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As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over it.

Let the baklava cool for a few minutes before serving.

I prefer to let the syrup soak into the baklava for at least an hour before digging in.

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SERVE & ENJOY!

Look at the apples peeking out below! 🙂

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Apple Baklava
 
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Apple Pie meets Baklava in this delicious and decadent dessert.
Author:
Serves: 16 pieces
Ingredients
BAKLAVA INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 small apples, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 roll frozen phyllo dough, thawed (25 sheets)
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray (or 4 sticks of butter, melted)
SYRUP INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • ½ cup good quality honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 whole cloves
Instructions
Prepare the Nut Mixture
  1. Spread the nuts onto a large sheet pan.
  2. Bake at 275 degrees for 5 minutes or until you start to smell the aroma of the toasted nuts. Set the nuts aside to cool.
  3. Place the nuts in a food processor; pulse for a couple of minutes or until the nuts are finely chopped.
  4. Add the brown sugar and ground cinnamon to the chopped nuts; stir to mix. Set aside.
Prepare the Phyllo Dough
  1. Defrost one roll of dough (about 25 sheets) at room temperature then carefully unroll it until the sheets are flat.
  2. Place plastic wrap over the dough so that it's completely covered, then place a very damp kitchen towel over the plastic-wrapped dough.
Layer the Baklava
  1. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking pan with butter flavored cooking spray.
  2. Layer 1:
    Place one sheet of dough on the bottom of the pan. Spray the surface of the dough with butter-flavored cooking spray or brush melted butter over it. Fold over any excess dough, spraying any dry dough with cooking spray. Repeat this process until you've used six sheets of phyllo dough -- dough-spray-fold excess-spray-repeat.
    Spread ½ cup of the nut mixture over the layer of dough.
    Add a layer of apple slices over the nuts (use ⅓ of the sliced apples).
    Add another ½ cup of nuts over the apples.
  3. Layer 2:
    Repeat the layering process as you did for Layer 1 (6 sheets of dough, nuts, apples, nuts). Be sure to butter each sheet of dough.
  4. Layer 3:
    Repeat the layers one more time (6 sheets of dough, nuts, apples, nuts).
  5. Layer 4:
    By now, you finished all of the nuts and apples, but you should still have about 6 sheets of phyllo dough left. This last layer uses the remaining sheets of phyllo dough (brush melted butter or spray between each sheet).
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the unbaked baklava into 16 pieces.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Make the Syrup
  1. Place the syrup ingredients into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce to low and simmer until the syrup reduces by half. Set aside to cool, discarding the cinnamon stick and cloves.
  2. Pour the cooled syrup over the baked baklava.
Serve and ENJOY!

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Caramel Apples

This recipe is one of the simplest, and if you get your kids to help, it’s fun too!

My recipe is makes just the basic caramel-covered apple, but you can up the WOW! factor by adding toppings to the freshly dipped apples.

Our favorite toppings are:

  • Toffee candy bits
  • Chopped nuts
  • Cookie pieces
  • Mini M&M candies
  • Sprinkles
  • Miniature marshmallows
  • Miniature chocolate chips

The options are virtually endless when it comes to jazzing up your caramel apple.  Give my recipe a try.  Your kids will love you for it. 🙂

Caramel Apples

 

Caramel Apples
 
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Crunchy apples covered with sweet, melted caramel
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 6 small apples
  • 1 bag (14 ounces) individually wrapped caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons milk (or heavy cream or coconut milk)
  • 6 popsicle sticks
  • Parchment paper
Instructions
  1. Rinse the apples; dry them completely (or else the caramel sauce won't stick to them). Insert a popsicle stick into each apple.
  2. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
  3. Place the unwrapped caramels and milk into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly until the caramels melt. Let the caramel sauce cool for about 2 minutes before dipping the apples.
  4. Holding the popsicle stick, dip the apple into the caramel sauce, covering it almost completely. Let the excess caramel sauce drip into the pan then place onto the parchment paper to set. If adding additional toppings, do so immediately after dipping the apples into the caramel sauce then place onto the parchment paper.
ENJOY!

 

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Spanish Rolls

Spanish Rolls are one of my favorite things to eat!
They are a soft, sweet bread dough rolled flat and filled with sweetened butter, then rolled jelly-roll style.  The rolled dough is brushed with melted butter then topped with a sprinkling of a sugar-breadcrumb mixture and baked to golden brown perfection.

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Eat them as a snack, dessert, or have a roll or two or three 😉 for breakfast with
a steaming cup of your favorite coffee.

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It’s not that difficult to make.  Follow my complete recipe below and mix up a batch of sweet bread dough.  Flatten pieces of dough and brush with a butter-sugar mixture.  Roll up the dough, jelly-roll style and let the dough rise.

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Spread more butter on top of the rolls and top with a sugar-breadcrumb topping before baking.  Use turbinado sugar, also called sugar in the raw, to top the rolls.

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The sugar-breadcrumb mixture bakes up into a sweet and crunchy topping that compliments the soft and incredibly fluffy, buttery rolls.

Don’t you wish you could just reach into your computer and pull one of these
scrumptious rolls right off that pan?

Give my recipe a try.  I know you’ll like it. 🙂

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Spanish Rolls
 
Prep time
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Soft, fluffy rolls with a buttery sugar filling and topped with a crunchy, sweet sugar-bread crumb topping
Author:
Recipe type: Yeast Bread
Serves: 24
Ingredients
Dough:
  • 1¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 4½ cups all-purpose flour
Filling:
  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
Topping:
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup turbinado sugar (also called sugar in the raw)
Instructions
  1. Place the milk into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute and 15 seconds. Pour the hot milk into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar to the milk, mixing until the sugar is dissolved, about one minute.
  2. Add the yeast to the milk-sugar mixture then mix until dissolved. Let the yeast stand for about 10 minutes to proof (the mixture should become very foamy).
  3. Let the melted butter cool down a bit then mix it with the salt, egg and egg yolks. Pour the butter mixture into the mixing bowl with the yeast mixture.
  4. Mix in the flour, a half cup at a time until you've used four cups of flour.
  5. Change the paddle to the dough hook then add the last half cup of flour. Knead with the dough hook for about 5 minutes, or until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
  6. Spray the ball of dough with butter cooking spray then cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled (about 45 minutes to an hour).
  7. After the dough has doubled in volume, punch it down then place it onto a clean countertop. Knead gently for 1 minute. Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into ovals.
  8. Prepare the filling by mixing the softened butter and sugar together until creamy.
  9. Evenly spread about a tablespoon of the butter and sugar mixture over each piece of flattened dough (you will have some of the mixture leftover; save this for use later).
  10. Roll the dough, jellyroll-style. Place onto a baking sheet about one inch apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; place the pan in a warm place to rise for about 20 minutes.
  11. While the rolls are rising, mix the breadcrumbs and turbinado sugar together.
  12. After the rolls have risen, gently spread some of the remaining butter-sugar mixture on top of the rolls. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the buttered rolls.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve warm from the oven and ENJOY!

 

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Fresh Peach Cobbler

Peach Cobbler is the ultimate summer dessert.  I like using fresh peaches when they are in season, but canned peaches (in juice, not syrup) will do in a pinch.

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This is a very easy dessert to make.  The hardest part is peeling and slicing the peaches.  However, if you ask my kids, the hardest part is actually waiting for the cobbler to finish baking! 😉

My complete recipe is at the bottom of this post.  Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Fresh Peach Cobbler

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Place the sliced peaches into a large mixing bowl.  If you’re using canned peaches, be sure to drain all the liquid.  12 fresh peaches yields about 10 cups of peaches.

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 Add sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and lemon juice to the bowl.

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Gently stir to combine all of the ingredients.

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In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder.

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Add milk to the flour mixture.

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Stir or whisk, just until a batter forms.  A few small lumps in the batter are okay.

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Pour the melted butter into the pan.

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Pour the batter over the melted butter.  DO NOT STIR. 

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Place the peaches on top of the batter.  Again, DO NOT STIR.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the batter (that seep through to the top) is golden brown.

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I love how the some of the batter rose through the peaches and sweet cinnamon sauce and settled on top.  If you want more of the batter to seep through to the top, save some of the batter, placing dollops of it on top of the peaches before baking.

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The peaches are perfectly cooked, not mushy at all.  The batter is fluffy on the inside and just slightly crisp on the outside where the sugar caramelized on top.

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What’s better than warm peach cobbler?  Why, peach cobbler with ice cream, that’s what!

Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and ENJOY!

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Fresh Peach Cobbler
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Fresh, juicy sweet peaches mixed with sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla extract, baked with a buttery batter to create the summer dessert favorite.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
Peach filling:
  • 12 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Batter:
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
Instructions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Prepare the filling:
  1. Place the sliced peaches in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Stir gently to combine all of the ingredients.
Prepare the batter:
  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  2. Pour in the milk; mix together until a batter forms.
Layer the cobbler:
  1. Pour the melted butter into a 9x13 pan.
  2. Pour the batter over the melted butter. DO NOT STIR.
  3. Pour the peach mixture over the batter. DO NOT STIR.
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream and ENJOY!
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Baklava Truffles

Baklava is one of my favorite desserts.  I’ve seen many variations of this rich, sweet dessert, from chocolate drizzled to baklava cheesecake, and believe me, they all taste incredible!

I’m usually pressed for time, and lately I’ve been creating healthier meals for my family. When it comes to healthy eating, I will admit that Baklava doesn’t immediately come to mind.  Why would it?  Traditional baklava is made with a syrup or honey, and lots and lots of butter.  This recipe, while not right up there in the health-food category, does cut back on a lot of the calories from butter, phyllo dough, and sugar.  It’s a good energy snack, and the thing I love best about it is that it’s a no-bake (aka quick and easy) recipe.

If you look at my list of ingredients below, you’ll notice an ingredient not common in traditional baklava recipes…almond butter.  I use almond butter partially to add another type of nut to this recipe, but it also serves as a way to bind everything together without using too much honey.

If you’re not familiar with almond butter, all it is are almonds ground until creamy, like peanut butter.  You can make your own almond butter — it’s really quite easy, if you have some patience and a good food processor, that is.  It’s more economical to make it yourself, as a small jar of almond butter sells for about $12.00!  I like adding pure maple syrup or honey to my almond butter to sweeten it up a bit.  To make your own almond butter, all you need are 3 cups of raw almonds and 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey (that’s if you want it sweet — the maple syrup and honey are completely optional).  Process only the almonds in your food processor — here’s where your patience comes into play as it takes a good 30 minutes of processing before the almonds turn into a creamy consistency.  Add the maple syrup or honey at the end, just so you can blend it with the almond butter.  Place in a resealable container (I use a mason jar or an empty peanut butter jar).

gheeSince you’ve just perused my list of ingredients, you’ll also notice I use ghee in my recipe.  Ghee is clarified butter — butter that’s been melted so that the milk solids separate from the butter fat, then cooked to boil out the moisture (butter has 15% to 20% moisture content while ghee has nearly 100% butter fat). Several traditional baklava recipes use ghee, lots and lots of it. You can find ghee in the international aisle of your grocery store, or you can make it yourself.

To make ghee, melt 1 pound (or 4 sticks) of butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat.  When the butter starts frothing, turn down the heat to low.  Keep cooking the butter until it starts to turn a dark golden color; the curds on the bottom of the pan will start to brown.  Use a clean, dry spoon to scoop away the frothy stuff on top.  When the melted butter looks clear, it’s done.  Remove it from the heat.  Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.  Place in a clean container.  You can store ghee at room temperature (no refrigeration needed).

Make up a batch of these delicious truffles to take along with you for road trip snacks, snacks at work, or when you’re planning an outdoor trek and need some snacks for a quick energy boost.

Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

No-Bake Baklava Truffles

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Ingredients:

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  • 1 cup pistachios
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup good quality honey
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

1.  Place the pistachios, walnuts, cinnamon and salt into a food processor.  Pulse it on high speed until the nuts are chopped into small pieces.

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2.  In a separate microwave-safe mixing bowl, place the honey and ghee (you can use regular butter instead of ghee).  Heat for about 30-60 seconds or until the ghee melts.  Add the almond butter and vanilla extract to the bowl.  Stir to combine.

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3.  Add the chopped nut mixture to the almond butter mixture.  Use a spatula to mix it all together.

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4.  Use a small cookie scoop to form small balls.  Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the truffles to set.

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Optional:  Roll the truffles in chopped nuts before refrigerating.

ENJOY!

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