Sunday, November 22, 2015

Flourless Oozy Peppermint Patty Cake

Right about now my bag of all-purpose flour is giving me the stink eye. It's wondering why the heck I haven't touched it in a month. I told it to relax, "You will get some action soon enough", I said. It nodded and went back into the pantry. Did that just get weird?

This is my last post for No-Wheat November and gluten will be back in the spotlight in time for Christmas. But, right now let's focus on the grand sight in front of us. This cake.

It's hard to believe that I don't like chocolate mint combinations by looking at this post. Imagine the best chocolate cake you have ever had and mash that thought up with gooey creamy minted white chocolate ganache. It is basically a chocolate party and mint just totally crashed.

Truth is, I do like chocolate mint when done right! By right I mean with dark chocolate and with lots of it. Milk chocolate and mint doesn't work for me. It's just sweet on sweet.

This here is the kind of cake you show off with. Bring it to the center of the dinner table, cut into it and let the oooohs and aaahhhs begin. I don't know what it is about oozing and exploding things that gets people all excited. If I could find a way to make this cake explode safely, I would. For now oozing will be enough.

Get your eggs out, get your motor running and double check your dark chocolate stash because we are gonna give 'er!

You need 6 eggs, but only 5 yolks. Save the other one to make a killer omelette. The higher white to yolk ratio means I'm after slightly more aeration to make this rich cake still feel light on the palate. Afterall, there's still butter and 200g of bitterawesome chocolate going in. Do use the bittersweet stuff - we need at least 70% cocoa solids. We need the solids to help give structure to this cake but we also need it to taste strong otherwise the whole thing will be far too sweet.

We need to save the sweentess for function because a certain amount of sugar is required to stabilize our eggs. Yolks and whites get whipped separately but each session requires some sugar. Yolks come to the ribbon stage before melted butter and chocolate gets folded in. Take the time to make sure your melted chocolate mixture cools down enough before this step because heat will destabilize the egg foam. 

Softly peaked whites fold through next and this incredibly moussey batter goes into an ungreased non-stick springform pan.

Once baked it will puff up like a balloon but don't expect this to last. It will deflate and sink once cooled which is totally normal. It's just like a souffle, except even more delicate since we haven't used any flour or starches to thicken the mixture. It would be completely boring and unoriginal if we didn't make use of this empty space that screams for something to fill it... so of course the answer is chocolate. Two times chocolate and two different ways...

The peppermint patty story begins now. Once the cake is completely cooled it's time to pour in slightly cooled white chocolate ganache infused with peppermint extract. Your patience will be tested now that you need to let this layer set up a bit in the fridge before pouring on the next layer of dark ganache. Your patience will also be exposed when you cut the cake - very runny means very impatient, gooey means punctual, firm set means you totally forgot about it. You can see which one I am... Clearly I am the queen of patience.

No doubt it took me less than 26 seconds to clean this plate. Let's not waste any more time and give this recipe a work-out!


Flourless Oozy Peppermint Patty Cake
Makes 8-10 servings

For the cake:
200g (7oz) bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa)
84g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
½ tsp vanilla extract
5 large egg yolks
6 large egg whites
½ cup (100g) plus 1 tbsp sugar (15g), divided
¼ tsp salt

For the peppermint filling:
150g (5 ¼ oz) white chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup (80ml) 35% whipping cream
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp peppermint extract

For the dark chocolate ganache:
170g (6 oz) dark chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup (150ml) 35% whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the base of an 8-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides.

Melt chocolate and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until smooth. Stir in vanilla and then set aside until cool but still fluid.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg yolks on low using an electric mixer. Gradually add ½ cup of sugar and then increase speed to high and beat until thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture.

Beat egg whites with salt in a separate clean bowl until frothy. Increase speed to med-high and beat until they start to hold shape, then beat in remaining 1 tbsp of sugar. Beat until they hold soft peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the surface is dull, domed and feels firm but with a bit of a wiggle. It will darken around the edges. Let cool to room temperature, watching it sink slightly as it cools.

To make the peppermint filling, place white chocolate in a bowl. Bring cream to a simmer and pour over top. Stir until smooth and glossy. Stir in vanilla and peppermint extracts. Pour filling into center of cooled cake, filling in the sunken part. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.

To make the chocolate ganache, place dark chocolate in a bowl. Bring cream to a simmer and pour over top. Stir until smooth and glossy. Let cool for 15 minutes, until no longer warm but still pourable. Pour ganache over top of peppermint later and refrigerate until set.

For an oozy, melty center like I’ve shown, do not let the peppermint layer set completely. Instead, gently pour slightly warm dark chocolate ganache over slightly set peppermint ganache and carefully spread it out. There should be a skin on the surface of the peppermint layer, but it should not be completely set before adding the dark chocolate layer. Refrigerate until top is just set and serve.

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

Coffee Oat Chocolate Chunk Cookies (gluten-free)

When dealing with gluten-free baking we need to look beyond the almighty all-purpose wheat flour. Scary. All-purpose flour is so perfect because it is just that - it's multi-purpose, one size fits all, life is easy. 

Shopping for gluten-free flours is intimidating because there are actually many many options. We have white rice flour, brown rice flour, coconut flour, amaranth, soy flour, potato flour.... The problem is that all of these alternative flours have different properties and they will all function in their own way in your recipe. 

No other single wheat-free flour can be as multi-functional or as glorious as gluten-filled wheat. GF recipes almost always require a blend of flours in order to provide all of the functional benefits of wheat flour. That is, starch for water retention and structure, protein for water binding and batter thickening, gums for thickening and water retention. 

You can expect gluten free recipes to have a longer ingredient list. Hey, there's a lot to live up to the power of wheat. BUT, it can be done.
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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Roasted Peanut Meringue Cake with Sticky Chocolate Mousse

Not only am I due for a chocolate & peanut combo recipe, but I have one that is fancy and flourless.

After last week's post and the kick-off to another month of gluten free recipes, I received a few questions about where to find fine rice flour. The answer is at Asian food stores. You can even check the international aisle of your local supermarket. It usually comes from Thailand and is most commonly used to make fresh rice noodles.

Luckily you can skip a trip to the shop today because this recipe uses ingredients thst you probably already have on hand!

Technically speaking this dessert is called Dacquoise - dry crisp rounds of nut-based meringue layered with shmeares of something creamy. In this case I've chosen dark chocolate mousse for reasons that are so obvious. Chocolate + peanut = rainbows and unicorns. It's a happy feeling.
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Monday, November 2, 2015

Gluten-Free Fudgy Chocolate Almond Cookies

Being told I can't eat something? That would piss me off.

Being told that I can't eat something that is a vital ingredient to all of the foods that I love? Don't even!

I am very happy that I do not have any food aversions because it would really piss people off. I would be a huge hazard to society since I have zero will power and would still eat everything. There would probably be frequent trips to the doctor. I would be a horrible nuisance to our health care system. 

Food is my friend, not the enemy. So for people who have to look at certain foods as pain inducers, that makes me sad! Especially when we're talking about warm chocolate chip cookies, butter cakes and flaky pastries. No! I won't have it. 

I am glad I can eat wheat. But, if you can't, I want you to still feel like you can. Kinda like vegetarians who eat fake meat - except this isn't fake. It's just good.

In honour of Christmas and the spirit of giving, I'm going to bake gluten-free for the month of November to help you prepare for your cookie exchange. Because we all know there will be someone who goes doesn't eat wheat in the bunch. Maybe you are that someone.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

Bakery Style Quadruple Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins

I learned recently that listening to your husband sometimes is useful. I also learned that if I ever encountered a great white shark in the ocean or a black bear in the woods I would most certainly be dinner. I can admit that I am probably the last person you'd want around in a physical crisis.

One time I was a first hand witness to a cyclist getting hit by a car at a busy intersection. He literally got slammed right in front of me and flew off his bike. All I did was stand in front of him lying painfully on the ground, pointing and yelling "Your leg is broken!" (His leg was not broken). Seriously, not helping...

Open water has always been my biggest fear. It's not our territory. We are not fish. It feels like I'm intruding in someone else's home. I just don't know what's down there! It's deep and dark and there are things with spines, stingers, sharp teeth and suction cups. I feel much more comfortable on land.

All that said, I've developed an appreciation for the beauty of the underwater world and have taken a liking to snorkeling. The bright colours and strange creatures excite and intrigue me, but I can't help but still swim with extreme reluctance as if some angry octopus is going to come right up to me and tell me that I'm disturbing his mealtime.

I'm pretty comfortable in deep water now. I really really enjoy snorkeling and seeing how incredible nature is. I've been lucky enough to swim with turtles, spot squid, lobster, shrimp, a seahorse, clown fish, sting rays and many other tropical fish. I even swam with sharks, and jumped into the water surrounded by bright pink jellyfish. I'm taking more risks in the water and feel like my confidence is growing. I finally felt like I overcame my fear.

And then last week happened. I was snorkeling happily and peacefully until I took a brief glance to the right and not even 20cm from my head was a black and white striped sea snake rapidly slithering right towards me and it eventually touched my shoulder. All that crossed my mind was the previous time we spotted one of these snakes deep in the ocean, Jonathan mentioned to me that they are very poisonous.

Well, at the moment this venomous snake touched me I completely lost my marbles, came above water, flayled my hands in the air and full-blown panicked. I actually threw Jon right in front of it between me and the snake... I'm not sure what that says about me but he didn't seem to share my stress so I figured I might as well make him useful. He just laughed at me and said "Good find". Yes, good job for spotting the sea snake. Apparently it won't bite me if I don't bother it. Sure. Ok.

Because I need to recover and regain my strength to re-enter the water, I need the comfort and cheerful endorphins that chocolate brings. Nothing brings back my courage and spirit like chocolate and Nutella. Let's throw them both in a bowl and make some muffins!

I'm talking chocolate coming from four different ways: melted dark stuff, cocoa, Nutella and chocolate chips! I'm serious when it comes to stress relief.

I also don't need a challenge right now so this recipe is easy. Anything that starts with melted chocolate and Nutella has to be good. I don't care if you squirt it on a hot dog - it will be delicious. Until I make a Nutella hot dog... then I might eat my words...

Like any great muffin story, you don't need any equipment to build these. It's all hands on deck today. You will need to dirty three bowls though. It will be worth the clean-up.

1) Melted chocolate and nutella in one.
2) Dry ingredients in another.
3) Eggs, oil and milk in the third.

Bowl 1 goes into bowl 3. and bowl 2 gets folded in last. The nice touch is some chopped toasted hazelnuts over the top before baking. They will spread out with the batter create this dramatic earthquake-like crust. I also love the crunch that will give you even more reason to only want to eat the muffin tops. As much as I do enjoy exploring the ocean floor, muffins are so much better than sea snakes.

Bakery Style Quadruple Chocolate Hazelnut Muffins
Makes 8 large muffins

85g (3oz) dark chocolate, chopped
¼ cup (85g) chocolate hazelnut spread
1 ¼ cups (175g) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (25g) cocoa powder
2 ½ tsp baking powder
¼ cup (50g) sugar
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs
¼ cup (60ml) sunflower oil
½ cup (118ml) milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
113g (4oz) dark chocolate chips
50g roasted chopped hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Line 8 wells of a standard 12-cup muffin pan with paper cases.

Melt dark chocolate and chocolate hazelnut spread together in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl. Add sugar and salt and whisk to blend.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and oil until very smooth. Whisk in milk and vanilla, then stir in cooled chocolate mixture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients. Fold together gently, adding chocolate chips halfway through mixing. Do not over-mix.

Divide mixture between paper cases, filling them almost full. Sprinkle hazelnuts over top and press them down lightly so that they stick. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly. These are best enjoyed warm!

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Double Maple Pecan Cookies

I feel like keeping the maple recipes coming since my confession last week. Now that it is all out in the open, I can embrace this ingredient shamelessly!

However if I have learned anything about my pineapple incident... I would calm down and put the maple syrup away.

This week I ate way too much pineapple. It doesn't sound like a huge deal, but I mean really way too much. I'm pretty sure it is not normal or recommended to eat a pineapple a day. I don't think there's a clever saying for that like apples... A whole pineapple to yourself for seven consecutive days is certainly too much and does not keep the doctor away. Let me just say that the acid does funny things to your lips. Just like with chocolate, cherries and strawberries, I learned yet again that there really is truth to "too much of a good thing". It pains me to admit it.

But there's this thing about me - a bad habit at its core. When I can get ahold of something so good, and it is fresh and it is cheap, then I need to have as much as I can in the moment until I just can't stand it! This moment lasted 7 days. In this tropical place that I am right now the pineapple is mind blowing. It has tastes of coconut and mango and it is juicy as ever! It is super sweet but still with that acidic tang. I can't help myself. Except now I can because I physically can't eat anymore.

One day I will grow up. Promise.

I also find these little Double Maple Pecan Cookies very addictive for their tangy sweetness, small size and delicate crunch. I say "crunch" with reluctance as they are not like biscotti in any way but have more texture than a buttery shortbread. Thankfully I have learned the strength not to eat these until my mouth goes sore. That is a sign of growing up.
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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Maple Pumpkin Pies with Pecan & Cranberry Praline

Fact: before this here pumpkin pie I had only ever enjoyed it once.

Fact: this here pumpkin pie is the first I have ever made.

Fact: I had never tried real maple syrup until this year.

Fact: I really am Canadian.

There are not many Canadians around who haven't tried real maple syrup until adulthood (and I mean pretty well into adulthood). I am the minority, and probably not a very good Canadian for it. You can blame my mom for always buying Aunt Jemima, or you can blame me for not really being a huge fan of pancakes... that sort of leaves fewer opportunities to use maple syrup.

And what's with this maple snow candy business? This was not a part of my childhood. You can blame that on my hometown - I guess Windsor wasn't Canadian enough for our schools to take us on field trips to maple syrup factories. I'm suffering from a severe cases of FOMO after hearing how incredible this maple snow cone stuff is.
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Monday, October 5, 2015

Custard Tart Cookies

Sometimes good ideas just require a lot of butter. I can't help it.

These cookies are appropriately named after Portuguese egg custard tarts which are unorthodoxly rich in egg yolks. And, at its core, this recipe is very much like the classic French sable cookie which is extravagantly rich in butter. 

They express a buttery, French Vanilla-esque flavour and a crumbly tender texture. I promise they will melt in your mouth.

When fresh, they will be crunchy around the edges and that's when I think they are at their best, although they will keep for several days in an airtight container.
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Monday, September 28, 2015

Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumble Coffee Cake

Something totally guilt-worthy: I put chocolate chip cookie dough on top of chocolate cake and I don't feel the least bit bad about it. I can't help to think about how it is a tad incestual... yet still a delicious relationship that I approve of.

The chocolate chip cookie is something so famed yet so simple. Its distinctive flavour comes from brown sugar, good quality butter and pure vanilla. Butter and brown sugar contribute a comforting butterscotchy flavour that benefits from caramelization around the crispy edges of the cookies.

The crumble on this cake delivers just that. All of the important components of classic CCC dough go in a bowl - flour, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt (don't skimp on salt!) and baking soda - before cold butter and vanilla gets rubbed right in. It is a cookie dough crumble.

You could probably guess that there is a good amount of sweetness going on here, but that's why salt is so important. We're talking about cookie on cake business so we need a salty kick to round things out. Salt + chocolate is perfect math anyways.

The cake base is a simple butter cake make extra moist with sour cream and extra chocolaty with a double dose of chocolate - cocoa plus dark chocolate chunks. Too much? Nah.

You can make it all with a spatula and your favourite mixing bowl. You can leave the mixer aside this time around.

Once your thick and luscious chocolate cake batter is ready and you've spread whatever you haven't already consumed into the pan, you can crumble the prepared cookie dough topping right over it.

It all gets baked together, which presents an advantage - the crumble protects the chocolate cake from drying out, thus keeping it that much softer.

This cake is all out there. It's fully loaded. It leaves not much to be desired. What you see is what you get so if you love chocolate, if you love the classic cookie, if you love alliteration, and my goodness IF YOU LOVE CHOCOLATE, you should make it.


Loaded Chocolate Chip Cookie Crumble Coffee Cake

For the chocolate chip cookie crumble:
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
pinch of baking soda
¼ tsp vanilla
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
70g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

For the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup sour cream
100g semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch baking pan with parchment paper.

For the crumble, combine flour, both sugars, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl. Work in the butter until the mixture holds together in clumps. Work in the chocolate until evenly distributed. Set aside. (You can form little clumps of dough and refrigerate before use.)

For the cake, sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.

Cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Gently fold in the dry ingredients in three additions, alternating with the sour cream, which will be added in two additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Fold through the chocolate.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Crumble the cookie mixture over the cake and press it down ever so gently. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crumble is evenly browned and a skewer inserted into the center comes out mostly clean, despite any melted chocolate.
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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Classic Chewy Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Happy Anniversary to me and the man I married!

We studied together, live together, worked together and travel together. The fact that we are not completely sick of each other is a miracle. The glue that keeps us together? It's food! We share the same obsession. And true love too - I guess that's pretty important.

Although he won me over with homemade ice cream (remember he has a Master's degree in the field of ice cream, so my husband is an Ice Cream Master!), today I am sharing a classic recipe. True love is nothing but class and giggles anyway. I am a big fan of oatmeal cookies and this is a no brainer recipe. You can easily memorize it since most measurements are 1/2 cup or 1 cup.
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Monday, September 14, 2015

Glazed Chocolate Honey Cakes

A super simple chocolate cupcake recipe starring honey.

Chocolate wears honey very well. It's that acidic tang of honey that complements the bitter sweetness of dark chocolate. The same reason why chocolate pairs well with tart fruit like raspberries. If you like chocolate and fruit combinations, then you will like these!

This is another one-bowl recipe. You can do this any weekday. Even if you spent the whole day in the kitchen, you won't mind putting in the extra 10 minutes to whip these up! It's a no brainer.
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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Butter Bars with Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate

Butter doesn't make things moist.

I said it.

Moisture is the presence of available water. Fat and water do not mix, actually fat is a barrier for moisture. Having said this, butter does contain about 14-16% water.. (confused?), but this water is trapped in an emulsion. Once butter melts, that emulsion is broken and water separates out.

In an attempt to make your favourite cookie, cake or brownie recipe more moist, re-consider pulling a Martha Stewart move by increasing the fat content. Fat is great for flavour but in excess it can actually have a negative impact.
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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Milk Chocolate Fudge Hazelnut Cookies

The most unappealing thing about getting older is worry.

Not wrinkles, not weight gain, not balding or losing control of your bowels.... it's worry.

It's the one important thing that people neglect to mention. As we grow and age we become more aware and more wise (in some cases), but this awareness makes me itch sometimes. Knowing too much can be a curse.

Children are ignorant and free - it is beautiful. But money, work and all sorts of responsibility makes us so serious and contemplative and full of stress. If someone finds the magic equation for a balance of child-like freedom with worry-free addulthood, sign me up for those math classes!
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Light & Luscious Lemon Cake

I'll come off my chocolate horse for a moment and deliver a recipe completely un-chocolatey. That's against the grain on Scientifically Sweet, but sometimes necessary. 

I love this cake. It has zero chocolate in it, but still... I love this cake!

There's nothing more appropriate for a Summer dessert than lemon and berries. This cake is light on the palate and light literally. It is so fluffy and soft that it would easily go unnoticed if one ate the entire thing.
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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Easiest Ever Sour Cherry Fudge Brownies

Sometimes you just really need a freakin' brownie and there's nothing else that will suffice.

A craving for brownies is something I am all too familiar with. It's a desire for more than just something sweet. It is more than just a bite of chocolate. Brownies offer an entire sensorial experience for the chocolate lover.

When I crave brownies, it means I want creamy, chewy, fudgy, sweet, chocolatey, caramely and a bit of salty.

It also means I want them now!

No fret. These are easy as! And they come with the whole package - smooth and creamy, fudgy and salty sweet. Dried sour cherries add tang and another element of chew.

Once you've got the chocolate and butter melted all together, you can go in with the rest of the ingredients. That's all.

I used both dark chocolate and cocoa here. Why not just choose one mode of chocolate? Because I'm very indecisive,  and because of Science.

Dark chocolate with its cocoa butter content gives chewiness since it is solid at room temperature. On the other hand, cocoa powder supplemented with butter adds softness and smoothness for that creamy texture since butter is soft at room temperature.

Don't let a craving get the best of you. Don't let time be your enemy. This recipe is your secret weapon. Brownies forevermore. 


Easiest-Ever Sour Cherry Fudge Brownies
Makes 16 squares

7 tbsp (100 g) unsalted butter, melted
3 oz/85 g dark chocolate (min. 60% cocoa)
2 large eggs
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1/3 cup (28 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
½ tsp vanilla extract
heaped ¼ tsp salt
½ cup plus 1 tbsp (80 g) all purpose flour
½ cup dried tart cherries, plus extra for topping

Preheat oven to 350°F and line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper, leaving 2-inch overhang at each end.

Combine butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan with simmering water and stir until melted and smooth. Add eggs, sugar, cocoa, vanilla and salt and whisk vigorously until smooth. Sprinkle over flour and fold it in until combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

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