Mocha Oreos

mocha oreos

Introducing one of the new additions to this year’s holiday treat boxes: Mocha Oreos! While peppermint or matcha were also flavor contenders, I already had peppermint marshmallows and peppermint bark brownies and matcha shortbread. And although coffee is one of my favorite flavors ever, it was not yet represented in my edible box of happiness. So it was decided. I think they’re a winner and definitely contend for a permanent place in the year-round cookie jar.

Baker’s notes:

  • It’s important to roll the dough to 1/8″ thickness or your yield will be significantly less. The ratio of cookie to filling is ideal when the wafers are fairly thin. My favorite hack for uniform dough is to use brass dowels — I found them at the local hardware store, but they’re also online (1/4″, 3/16″, and 1/8″ are my most used thicknesses). You can watch a demonstration of the technique on my Instagram highlights.
  • Do NOT substitute natural or black cocoa for the Dutch-processed cocoa. I like Cacao Berry Extra Brute.
  • As with my pumpkin spice latte pie, the key to a rounded coffee flavor here is a mixture of infusion and espresso powder. For the filling, I infuse the butter with whole coffee beans then add a little espresso powder during mixing.
  • The filling must be used as soon as you’re done mixing — it sets quickly. It may seem slightly loose and warm but that’s ok.
mocha oreos top down

Mocha Oreos

Makes about 45 small sandwich cookies | Adapted from Bravetart

Ingredients:

For the chocolate wafers:

  • 115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 55g golden or light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 165g all purpose flour
  • 35g Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I like Cacao Berry Extra Brute)

For the coffee filling:

  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 30g whole coffee beans
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
  • 240g icing sugar, sifted
  • 7g (1 Tbsp) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, sifted

Method:

Make the chocolate wafers: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine butter, sugar, golden syrup, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low until combined, then turn the speed up to medium and beat until fluffy and light, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the the bowl and paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.

Sift together the flour and cocoa powder. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Continue mixing on low until a smooth dough forms. Turn off the mixer and use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, ensuring there are no patches of flour remaining.

Roll the dough: Split the dough in half (about 235g each). Flatten each half into a disc. Wrap one with plastic and keep at room temperature. Transfer the other half to a large piece of parchment. Place another piece of parchment or plastic wrap over the top and roll to 1/8″ thick. Lift the top piece of parchment/plastic occasionally to avoid forming creases in the dough.

When the dough has reached the desired thickness, transfer, still sandwiched between parchment/plastic, to a sheet tray. Refrigerate while you repeat with the other half of the dough. Slide the second piece on top of the first and continue chilling until both pieces of dough are firm, about half an hour.

Cut and bake the wafers: Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one sheet of dough from the fridge (keep the other refrigerated). Flip the dough over so the bottom is on top. Peel off the parchment, then replace the parchment and flip the dough right side up (this will help prevent the dough from sticking to the parchment). Peel off the top layer of parchment/plastic.

Using a 1 1/2″ round cutter, cut as many rounds as possible out of the first sheet. Using an offset spatula, transfer the rounds to a prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1/2″ apart (they won’t spread much). Repeat with second half of dough. Gently press together scraps, reroll, and cut more rounds — you should end up with about 90.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the cookies are dry and firm to the touch, 10-12 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

Make the coffee filling: Prepare the cookies for filling by turning half of them upside down. The filling sets quickly and must be used right after mixing. Prepare a pastry bag fitting with a 1/2″ piping tip.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, stir in the whole coffee beans. Continue heating the coffee-butter mixture, stirring frequently. It will foam and sputter, then eventually fall silent. We’re not trying to brown the butter, so if you notice the milk solids starting to brown, turn the heat down. (We’re basically making coffee-infused ghee.)

Strain the coffee-butter into a clean, heatproof bowl; discard the beans and solids. Measure out 140g butter and place in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.

Add the vanilla, salt, espresso powder, icing sugar, and cocoa powder. Mix on low to combine, then turn the speed up to medium. Beat until creamy and soft, about 5 minutes. It may still be a bit warm; that’s normal. Immediately scrape into the prepared pastry bag.

Pipe a dollop of frosting onto the upturned cookies (about 6-7 grams, if you want to be precise). Sandwich with the remaining cookies. Let cookies stand at room temperature until set, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week; freeze for longer storage.

mocha oreos angled

Marbled Peppermint Marshmallows

peppermint marshmallows
Note: This post contains affiliate links.

I believe everyone should try making marshmallows at least once, whether or not you think you like them. Why? First off, homemade marshmallows taste miles better than anything store bought — pleasingly bouncy texture, and real flavor (vanilla and peppermint here, or perhaps you’d prefer honey and sea salt?). Second, you’ll feel like a magician as you witness the clear syrup transform into a billowy white cloud.

Peppermint marshmallows just might be my favorite flavor — probably because if I’m making them, it’s getting close to Christmas and a festive playlist is almost certainly filling the air. These are a must-include in my holiday treat boxes each year, and usually one of the first treats I make (stored airtight, marshmallows have a great shelf-life). Use them to top your hot cocoa or put out a tray of these instead of after-dinner mints at your cookie exchange!

Here are a few tips for marshmallow success:

  • Read the recipe through completely a couple times before starting. Marshmallows aren’t difficult to make, but they do require close attention to temperatures and working with hot syrups. Syrups wait for no one and once you hit the right temperatures you need to move on quickly to the next step. Measure everything ahead of time and prep all your equipment. This is a project best done without small children or animals underfoot.
  • Use a digital probe thermometer for gauging temperatures. I have both a Thermoworks DOT thermometer and Polder digital probe thermometer; both work beautifully. Make sure that the tip of the probe is fully immersed in the syrup but not hitting the bottom of your pot to ensure accurate readings.
  • Most marshmallow recipes are pretty similar in terms of ingredients. The biggest differences you’ll notice are in the temperature for cooking the sugar syrup — I’ve seen everything from 225F to 250F. I’ve been using this method from Bravetart for years (first from her sadly archived blog and then her cookbook). Though cooling the syrup may seem like an extra step, it’s safer than pouring boiling hot syrups into a mixer. Plus it ensures that the setting power of the gelatin won’t be compromised through overheating.
  • The small amount of butter is optional — it adds a little extra flavor and tenderness.
  • While you want to whip the mixture sufficiently so your mallows are nice and fluffy, don’t whip too long or the mixture will start setting in the bowl. This makes an already sticky process even messier, plus you end up losing more marshmallow than necessary to the bowl and beater. I like to pan the mixture when it’s fluffy but still sliiiightly warm and a little fluid. A greased flexible bowl scraper is by far my favorite tool for scraping the marshmallow out of the bowl and into the prepared pan.
  • Use pure peppermint extract for the best taste — a little goes a long way. Do not use peppermint oil as that can cause the marshmallow to deflate.
  • Watch me make these marshmallows in my Instagram highlights and this reel!

Marbled peppermint marshmallows

Makes one 8×8 pan | Adapted from Bravetart

Ingredients:

  • 21g (3 Tbsp) powdered gelatin
  • 115g (1/2 c) cold water, for blooming gelatin
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 115g (1/2 c) water, for the sugar syrup
  • 140g (1/3 c plus 2 Tbsp) corn syrup
  • 340g (1 3/4 c minus 1 Tbsp) granulated sugar
  • 1g (1/4 tsp) kosher salt
  • 14g (1 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • A few drops red gel food coloring (optional, for marbling)
To finish:
  • 30g cornstarch
  • 30g icing sugar

Method:

  1. Prepare the pan: Lightly grease an 8×8 square pan with cooking spray.
  2. Bloom the gelatin: In a small, wide bowl, mix the gelatin with 115g (1/2 c) cool water and the vanilla extract. Stir to combine, making sure all the gelatin is saturated. Leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.
  3. Cook the sugar syrup: In a 3.5 or 4 L heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the remaining 115g (1/2 c) water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a heat-proof spatula or fork until the mixture starts bubbling, then stop stirring (stirring a boiling sugar syrup can encourage crystallization). Clip on a digital thermometer and continue cooking the syrup until it reaches 245-250F.
  4. Cool the syrup: Once the syrup reaches temperature, pour the syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, using a flexible, heat-resistant spatula to scrape the pot. Let the syrup cool until it registers 212F, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. Whip the marshmallow: Once the syrup has cooled to 212F, scrape the bloomed gelatin into the bowl. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium low until the gelatin has melted, then increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until the mixture is fluffy, thick, and roughly tripled in volume, about 8-10 minutes. The bowl should be slightly warm to the touch. Reduce the speed to low and drizzle in the melted butter, if using, and the peppermint extract; then increase the speed back to medium high and mix for a few seconds just until incorporated. Remove the bowl from the mixer and add a few drops of red food coloring, if desired. For the marbled effect, fold the mixture just a couple times with a greased spatula — most of the marbling will happen naturally as you pour the marshmallow into the pan, so don’t fold too much.
  6. Pan, cure, and cut the marshmallow: Use a greased spatula or flexible bowl scraper to scrape the marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Let sit, uncovered, for at least 4 hours (preferably overnight) to “cure” or set the marshmallow.
  7. When ready to cut, sift together the cornstarch and icing sugar to make the marshmallow dust. Sift some of the dust over a cutting board, then invert the pan with the marshmallow onto the board, gently tugging it free with your fingers. Sift more of the marshmallow dust over the marshmallow. Use a sharp, oiled knife to cut the marshmallows into 6 strips (or whatever size you’d like); then cut each strip into 6 even pieces. Clean the knife between cuts for best results. Toss each marshmallow in the remaining dust to ensure it doesn’t stick. Store marshmallows in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Related recipes:

Gooseberry Cheesecake Squares

gooseberry cheesecake squares
Note: this post may contain affiliate links.

This summer I have fallen hard for tart fruits such as gooseberries and currants. I didn’t grow up eating either of them but here in Ontario, both grow prolifically. We recently planted both gooseberry and currant bushes in our yard. They’re still a year or two out from producing fruit but I thought I’d start figuring out ways to use these berries so that when the time comes, we’ll have plenty of ideas for the harvest.

One of the simplest ways to use any fruit is just to make compote — basically a lightly cooked, chunky fruit topping. I don’t really use a recipe for compote. Just toss some fruit in a pot with a little liquid and sugar to taste, and cook to desired consistency. Serve with oatmeal or yogurt; spoon it over pound cake or ice cream; or swirl it into these simple cheesecake bars. Delicious!

Baker’s notes:

  • I used red gooseberries for these bars. I image any kind would work, though the color contrast with the purple/red ones will be the most striking!
  • Don’t have gooseberries? Feel free to substitute another berry in the compote or use a thick jam. Or just leave out the swirl for plain cheesecake bars!
  • One key to a crack-free cheesecake is to not overmix your batter. I always use a food processor to mix cheesecake batter because it’s super fast and great at mixing without aerating; but you can also use a stand mixer or even just a whisk. Just remember that you’re not trying to beat air into the batter — just combine until smooth. It’s imperative to have all your ingredients at room temperature or you’re more likely to get lumps in your cheesecake.
  • The second key to no-crack cheesecake is to bake low and slow and not overbake. For the cheesecake portion I bake at 275F and pull it out when the center is still a little wobbly. Also, cool the bars to room temperature completely before chilling in the fridge. Sudden temperature changes can cause cracks as well. Definitely don’t skip the chilling — this helps the bars set up completely and also makes them easy to slice.
gooseberry cheesecake squares

Gooseberry Cheesecake Squares

Makes one 8×8″ pan

Ingredients:

For the gooseberry compote:
  • 200g fresh gooseberries (preferably red), tops and bottoms trimmed
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 15g granulated sugar (to taste)
For the graham cracker crust:
  • 175g graham cracker or chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 12g light brown sugar (optional; can sub granulated)
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 56g unsalted butter, melted
For the cheesecake filling:
  • 340g (1 1/2 blocks) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature (I always use Philadelphia brand)
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (I always use Diamond Crystal)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 120g sour cream, at room temperature

Method:

Make the gooseberry compote: Combine gooseberries, lemon juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring and smashing the berries constantly, until the berries release their juices and the mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the juices thicken, about 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or regular blender) until smooth. Taste and add additional sugar if desired — I like to keep the compote on the tart side to balance out the rich cheesecake. Cool to room temperature. (You can make compote a few days in advance — store in the refrigerator until ready to use.)

Prepare the graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle. Line an 8×8 metal baking pan with foil or two pieces of criss-crossed parchment, leaving about 3 inches of overhang on two sides, and lightly grease.

Stir together the cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter. The mixture should hold together if you squeeze it in your hand, but shouldn’t feel overly greasy. If the mixture doesn’t hold together, add more melted butter 1 teaspoon at a time until it does. If overly greasy, add more cracker crumbs, 1 teaspoon at a time, until you get the right texture.

Press the cookie crumbs into the bottom of the pan, using a measuring cup or shot glass to compact the crumbs firmly and evenly. Bake until just set, about 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you prepare the cheesecake filling.

Make the cheesecake filling: Lower the oven temperature to 275ºF. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until combined. Scrape down the sides, add the vanilla and lemon juice, and pulse until smooth. Add the sour cream and pulse until smooth. Scrape down the sides.

Add the eggs one at a time, pulsing after each just to combine. Scrape down the sides and fold the batter a few times to make sure it’s well combined. (Note: you can also use a stand mixer with the paddle attachment to mix this batter; mix on a low speed and scrape down the paddle often to keep the batter smooth and lump-free.)

Assemble the bars: Scrape about half the cheesecake batter over the prepared crust and smooth with an offset spatula. Use a small spoon to dollop on half the gooseberry compote (no need to swirl it in right now). Add the remaining cheesecake batter and smooth it carefully over the top. Dollop on the remaining compote and use a skewer or chopstick to swirl it in.

Bake the bars: Bake the cheesecake bars until the edges are set but the center is still a little wobbly, about 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely to room temperature, then refrigerate uncovered until completely firm (at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight). To serve, use the parchment or foil handles to transfer the cheesecake to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into desired squares, wiping the blade clean after each cut. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

gooseberry cheesecake squares separate

Related recipes:

Strawberry Double Fromage Cheesecake

Note: This post may contain affiliate links.
strawberry double fromage cheesecake

If you’re a fan of Asian ASMR YouTube channels, you’ve probably encountered some version of double fromage cheesecake over the years. Popularized by Japanese bakery chain LeTAO, double fromage cheesecake is made up of a sponge cake layer, topped with a layer of baked cheesecake, topped with a layer of cheesecake mousse (or no-bake cheesecake). Once set, the entire cake is dusted with leftover sponge cake crumbs. As with many Asian-style cakes it’s light and lightly sweetened — perfect for warm summer evenings.

LeTAO has actually shared their original recipe on YouTube (it’s in Japanese, but you can get a general idea from the subtitles). With their recipe as a guideline, I created this strawberry version by adding a layer of strawberry gelee between the two cheesecakes and strawberry puree to the cheesecake mousse. To pack a stronger strawberry punch, the whole cake is lightly frosted with strawberry whipped cream and strawberry-speckled cake crumbs (strawberry shortcake Good Humor bar vibes, anyone?).

This strawberry double fromage cheesecake isn’t hard to make, but it does take some time for the different layers to set. You can make it leisurely over one day, or break up the work over a couple days to fit your schedule.

strawberry double fromage cheesecake sliced

Baker’s Notes:

  • You’ll need strawberry puree for the strawberry gelee and strawberry cheesecake mousse layers. I made my own by simply whizzing up some fresh strawberries in a blender, but you can use store-bought puree or use frozen berries (thaw before blending). I like to strain my puree to get rid of the seeds, so I always start with 50% more berries (by weight) than what I need for the recipe. (In this case, I suggest starting with 225g fresh strawberries). Freeze any extras for a later use, or just toss into your next smoothie or swirl into yogurt!
  • I absolutely love the flavor combination of strawberries and elderflower, so I used some IKEA elderflower syrup in both the gelee and mousse. You could use another brand or even elderflower liqueur (like St-Germain). No biggie if you don’t have it, though — subs are in the recipe! 
strawberry double fromage cheesecake slice

Strawberry Double Fromage Cheesecake

Makes one 6″ cake | Adapted from LeTAO and Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the sponge cake:
  • 45g milk 
  • 30g neutral oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, separated (cold is fine)
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 75g granulated sugar, preferably caster or superfine
  • 80g cake flour, sifted
For the baked cheesecake:
  • 165g full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature 
  • 50g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract 
  • 3g (3/4 tsp) lemon juice
  • 80g sour cream, room temperature
  • 5g (2 tsp) cake flour 
For the strawberry gelee:
  • 2g (scant 3/4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 10g cold water
  • 85g strawberry puree (strained or unstrained, depending on your preference)
  • 10g elderflower syrup (or more strawberry puree)
  • 5-15g granulated sugar (to taste)
For the strawberry cheesecake mousse:
  • 125g heavy cream, cold
  • 3.5g (slightly rounded 1 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 20g milk, cold
  • 1 large egg yolk (~18-20 grams)
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 20g elderflower syrup (or water)
  • 65g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 65g strained strawberry puree, room temperature 
For the strawberry whipped cream:
To finish:

Method:

Make the sponge cake:

Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line the bottom of a round 8″ cake pan (with at least 2″ sides) with parchment. Lightly grease the parchment, but don’t grease the sides of the pan.

Combine the milk, oil, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat over low until warm (but not hot) to the touch. Remove from heat, add the vanilla, and keep warm while you prepare the rest of the batter.

Place the egg whites in a large, spotlessly clean stainless steel bowl. (You will eventually be mixing all the cake batter in this bowl, so pick one that’s nice and wide.) Using a handheld electric mixer, mix the egg whites on low until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue whisking on low to medium-low until the bubbles tighten and resemble shaving cream. Add the sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking all the while. Turn the speed up to medium and whisk until the meringue holds stiff, shiny peaks when the beaters are raised slowly.

Add the egg yolks one at a time, whisking on low after each addition. Mix just enough so the color is homogenous.

Sift in the flour in 2 batches. Use a balloon whisk or flexible spatula to fold the flour in after each addition. Fold just until the flour is mixed in, doing your best not to deflate the batter. Take extra care to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, as flour likes to hide and stick there!

Scoop about 1/2 a cup of batter into the milk-oil mixture. Whisk to combine — no need to be gentle about this; you’re just “tempering” the liquid so it’s more similar in consistency to the rest of the main batter, making it easier to fold the two together with minimal deflation.

Drizzle half the milk-oil mixture around the perimeter of the main batter. Use a balloon whisk or flexible spatula to fold in. Repeat with the remaining milk-oil mixture. Fold just until no streaks of liquid remain and you have one homogenous batter. (Again, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl thoroughly!)

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Whack the pan firmly on the counter 2-3 times to break any large air bubbles.

Bake until golden and springy to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately drop the pan onto the counter from a height of 12″. (This helps minimize shrinkage.) Let cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, then run a thin spatula around the edge. Leave in the pan to cool completely.

Right before preparing the baked cheesecake batter, cut the cake horizontally so you have a round about 1/2″ thick (save the rest of the cake for another use). Use a 6″ cake ring to punch out a circle of cake. Remove the excess cake around the outside of the ring; but do not discard. Remove cake and clean the ring. Line the ring with parchment paper and place on a cake round or sheet pan. Place cut round on the bottom of the ring.

Trim the brown parts off the cake you removed from outside the ring; wrap and refrigerate or freeze — you’ll use this for decorating the outside of the cake.

Make the baked cheesecake:

Preheat the oven to 300F with one rack in the middle and one below.

In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and salt. Mix on medium-low with a handheld electric mixer. Scrape down the sides, add the egg, and mix until smooth. Add the vanilla and lemon juice, and mix until smooth. Add the sour cream and mix until well combined. Add the flour and mix until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared ring. Tap the pan on the counter several times to dislodge any large air bubbles.

Transfer the cheesecake to the middle rack in the oven. On the rack below, place a cake pan filled with about 2 inches (5 cm) of hot water. Bake until the edges are set but the center still gently wobbles, about 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate uncovered until cold (at least 2 hours).

Make the strawberry gelee:

When the cheesecake has chilled completely, prepare the strawberry gelee. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold water. Let stand for 5 minutes to bloom.

In a small saucepan, combine the strawberry puree, elderflower cordial, and sugar. Heat over medium until the sugar has melted and the mixture is steaming but not boiling. Remove from heat and add the bloomed gelatin. Stir until the gelatin has completely dissolved, then scrape into a heatproof jug or container. Let cool for 10 minutes, then pour over the baked cheesecake layer. Chill while you prepare the strawberry cheesecake mousse.

Make the strawberry cheesecake mousse:

Whip the heavy cream until just before soft peaks. Chill while you prepare the rest of the mousse.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the cold milk to bloom. Set a sieve over a clean, heatsafe bowl.

Fill a small saucepan with an inch of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In a heatproof bowl (that will fit over the saucepan without the bowl touching the water), whisk together the egg yolk, sugar, and elderflower cordial (or water). Heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and registers 155F on a digital thermometer. (This is to pasteurize the egg yolk.) Remove from double boiler and whisk in the gelatin mixture until completely dissolved. Whisk in the cream cheese and strawberry puree. Strain into the prepared bowl.

Using a flexible spatula, fold in the whipped cream in two portions, just until homogenous. Pour over the gelee layer. Refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours (or overnight).

Finish the cake:

When the mousse has set and you’re ready to decorate, make the strawberry whipped cream. Combine the cream and ground freeze-dried strawberries in a small bowl and whip to medium-firm peaks. (You can also do this in a mini food processor — grind the strawberries to a powder, if whole, then add the cream and pulse until thick like yogurt. It doesn’t take long!) Refrigerate until ready to use.

To make the strawberry crumbs, pulse the reserved cake scraps in a food processor until fine (or press through a sieve). Stir in the freeze dried strawberries.

To decorate, remove the cake ring and parchment paper. Frost the entire cake with a light coat of the strawberry whipped cream. Immediately press the strawberry crumbs all over the sides of the cake (you can do the top too, if you like, but I kept it naked). Transfer any remaining strawberry whipped cream to a piping bag fitted with a French star tip. Pipe a few swirls on top and garnish with fresh strawberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Cake is best the day it’s assembled, but you can refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

strawberry double fromage cheesecake

Related recipes and resources:

Fresh Strawberry Sablé Breton Tart with Vanilla Bean Mousse

strawberry sable breton tart

Hello Ontario strawberry season, my unofficial start to summer! Every June I start stalking the websites of our local farms waiting for the announcements that The Strawberries Are Here. I love picking all types of fruit, but strawberries might be my favorite. Pulling back the leaves to find those extra-ripe-and-red ones hiding in the middle of the plants, keeping an eye on the kids to make sure they aren’t sampling more than is socially acceptable — strawberry picking is an experience I relish every year.

One of my must-bakes every strawberry season is a fraisier (cc: this berry basil fraisier from the archives and a strawberry elderflower version in my book), but this year I wanted to work on some other desserts that would showcase the beauty of in-season strawberries. When working with such perfectly ripe fruit, my motto is always “Less is more!” If your strawberries are perfectly candy-sweet, I think it’s a shame to cook them or overshadow their flavor with any strong flavoring.* Enter: this fresh strawberry sable breton tart with vanilla bean mousse.

*If you’re picking pounds and pounds, ok, I get it. Just promise me you’ll enjoy at least a portion of them as unadulturated as possible!

strawberry sable breton tartlets

Sablé breton

Sablé breton, or French-style shortbread, straddles the line between cake and cookie, thanks to richness from egg yolks and butter and lift from baking powder. It makes a wonderful tart base; it’s sturdy and actually holds up fairly well to refrigeration. (Once topped it does soften with time, but doesn’t get as soggy as some other tart crusts do.) I roll out my dough, cut out the pastry with a cake ring and bake the base directly in the ring for the cleanest look and easiest unmolding. However, you can also press the dough evenly into a cake ring or parchment-lined cake pan.

With this amount of pastry, I got one 6″ tart plus three 3.5″ tartlets. Alternatively, you could use all the dough to make one 8″ tart, or bake off extra dough as cookies. One last thing — for the best-tasting sablé breton, I stick with tradition and use European style (84% butterfat) cultured salted butter. If you don’t have salted butter on hand, increase the salt to 1/4 tsp.

Vanilla Bean Mousse

For the creamy element, I borrowed a page from the ever-genius Bravetart with a egg-white vanilla bean mousse. The mousse starts with what is essentially a pastry cream made with just egg whites. (Conveniently, you’ll need the exact amount of egg whites leftover from the sablé breton. Recipe development score!) This may seem odd, as classic pastry creams usually rely on egg yolks for flavor and richness. However, Stella Parks notes in her book that egg whites can thicken pastry cream just as well as yolks. The resulting custard just has a more neutral, clean flavor — perfect for letting infusions take center stage. Here we’re sticking with classic vanilla. It’s definitely worth breaking out a real bean here — your mousse (and tasters) will thank you! You’ll use half the seeds for the pastry and the rest plus the pod for the mousse.

All the beautiful strawberries

Base, check; cream, check — the only thing left is to pack the tart full of as much fresh strawberry goodness as possible. I fill the center with lots of finely diced strawberries mixed with a touch of jam, then pile the top with the prettiest berries I have — I like to keep the stems on a few of them just for aesthetics. You can brush the decorative berries with some warmed apricot jam if you want a little shine or if you’re storing the tart for more than a couple hours (this will keep the berries for drying out).

Light, elegant, and fresh, this strawberry sablé breton tart with vanilla bean mousse has joined the fraisier as one of those desserts I’ll anticipate every strawberry season. I’m also dreaming up some other fruit-mousse combos — cherry and chocolate? Peach and brown sugar? Lychee and coconut? Stay tuned!

Fresh Strawberry Sablé Breton Tart with Vanilla Bean Mousse

Makes one 6″ tart plus a few small tartlets, or one 8″ tart

Ingredients:

For the vanilla bean mousse:
  • 170g whole milk
  • 113g heavy cream (35% milk fat)
  • Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean, plus pod
  • 65g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 17g cornstarch
  • 60g (from about 2 large eggs) egg whites (reserve yolks for sable breton)
  • 14g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85g heavy cream, cold
For the sablé breton base:
  • 125g all-purpose flour
  • 5g (1 1/4 tsp) baking powder
  • 40g egg yolks (from about 2 large eggs), at room temperature
  • 80g granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp fine sea salt (increase to 1/4 tsp if using unsalted butter)
  • Seeds of 1/2 a vanilla bean (reserve remaining seeds and pod for mousse)
  • 85g salted European-style butter, very soft
For the fresh strawberry filling:
  • 150g fresh strawberries, stemmed and finely diced
  • 40g (2 Tbsp) seedless strawberry preserves (or other complementary flavour)
To finish:
  • Fresh strawberries
  • 1-2 Tbsp apricot preserves (optional)

Method:

Make the vanilla mousse:

Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heat-safe bowl or container.

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and 113g heavy cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, place the sugar in a medium bowl and rub in the vanilla bean seeds. Add the empty vanilla bean pod to the heated dairy; then remove from heat, cover, and infuse for 30 minutes (or up to 1 day, in the refrigerator).

Remove the vanilla bean pod and scrape any pulp back into the saucepan. Bring dairy back to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, whisk the salt and cornstarch into the vanilla-sugar until well combined. Whisk in the egg whites.

Once the dairy reaches a simmer, remove from heat. Pour about half the dairy in a slow, steady stream into the egg white mixture, whisking constantly to avoid cooking the eggs. Scrape the warmed egg white mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens and starts to bubble. Once bubbles appear, continue whisking the custard on the heat for one full minute to cook out any starchiness. Strain into the prepared container. Whisk in the butter and vanilla extract. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly against the surface of the custard and cover. Refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours (or up to a week).

Once the base is chilled, whip the remaining 85g heavy cream to medium peaks. Stir the custard base until smooth; then gently fold in the whipped cream until well combined. Transfer mousse to a piping bag fitted with a large round or open star tip for at least an hour before assembling tarts. (Mousse can be prepared up to 5 days in advance.)

Make the sablé breton base:

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using an electric hand mixer), combine the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk on medium-high speed until pale and thickened, 2-3 minutes. With the mixer still running, add the butter a tablespoon at a time. Mix until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and fold in with a flexible spatula just until no streaks of flour remain.

Scrape the dough onto a piece of parchment or silicone mat and place a piece of plastic wrap on top. Roll out the dough into a round between 1/4″ and 1/2″ inch thick, peeling off and replacing the plastic wrap every few rolls to avoid getting creases in the dough. Transfer the dough (with the plastic wrap on top) to a sheet pan and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 5 days).

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Flip the dough over (the plastic will now be on the bottom) and peel off the parchment or silicone mat. Then replace the parchment and re-invert the dough. (This step ensures the dough isn’t stuck to the parchment or silicone.) Transfer the parchment with the dough on it back to the baking sheet and remove the plastic wrap. Use a 6″ cake ring to punch out a circle of dough. Remove the excess dough around the outside of the ring, but keep the cut round inside the ring. Use a fork to poke the dough in the ring all over. Press the remaining dough into tartlet molds or refrigerate/freeze for later use.

Bake the sablé breton until golden, about 25-30 minutes for the 6″ round (about 20 minutes for smaller tartlets). Let cool completely in the molds before assembling.

Assemble the tart:

When ready to assemble the tart, mix together the diced strawberries and jam. Spread the filling on the tart base, leaving about a 1″ border. Pipe the mousse around the edge and over the filling. Decorate with fresh strawberries as desired (you can brush the berries with warmed apricot jam for a little shine). Refrigerate until ready to serve. Tart is best enjoyed the day it’s assembled. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The pastry will soften with time, though it becomes more cakelike rather than soggy — not a bad thing at all!

large and small strawberry sable breton tarts

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Funfetti Cookie Dough Brownies

funfetti cookie dough brownie close up

Two funfetti recipes in a row — who am I, even? Well, I am very much the mother of young children and today’s recipe is all for (and because of) them and their sprinkle-loving hearts.

My kids love watching Cupcake Jemma on YouTube. If you’re not familiar with her, Cupcake Jemma is a baker in London who owns the bakery chain Crumbs and Doilies, known for their colorful and often over-the-top cakes, cookies, and bars. She and her team put out a recipe video every week, often for one of the bakery’s signature treats. Recently they did a video on edible cookie dough. My older kids lost their minds and begged to make some. But then they remembered another CJ video for cookie dough brownies. You can guess how things progressed.

funfetti cookie dough brownies

While I obviously love baking and desserts, I don’t love really sweet things and honestly the idea of over-the-top, loaded brownies made my teeth hurt. But I didn’t want to quench the kids’ excitement and creative spirit, so we made these funfetti cookie dough brownie with a ruby ganache top (because color).

Honestly, these turned out better than I expected. Yes, they are sweet and indulgent, and I recommend enjoying them into teeny tiny squares (like, literally, 64 tiny ones). The funfetti cookie dough adds an interesting…grittiness (if you’ve eaten cookie dough, you know what I mean) that isn’t unpleasant, despite how it sounds. The ruby chocolate ganache not only adds color but also a gentle acidity that helps temper the sweetness of the bar. I also used a scaled-down recipe of my go-to brownie (from Baked to Order) as a base — it’s fudgy and not overly sweet, perfect in this application.

These cheerfully indulgent bars would be perfect for a birthday party or bake sale. Store extras in the freezer for when you need a bite of cheer (or want to earn a few mom points).

Baker’s Notes:

  • The ganache topping is made with ruby chocolate (previously seen in this Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake), which is naturally pink. You can find it in some grocery/specialty food stores or online. If you don’t have access to ruby chocolate, you can substitute a semisweet chocolate (~50-60% cocoa solids).
  • The ruby chocolate color does fade when heated, so I added a drop of fuschia gel coloring just to brighten it up a touch. Totally optional.
  • To make cookie dough that’s safe to eat, you need to bake the flour to kill off any harmful bacteria. I do this before baking the brownies to give the heated flour time to cool off before mixing the cookie dough.
  • For very clean slices, make sure your assembled brownies are very well chilled. Use a hot, sharp knife and wipe it off between slices!
funfetti cookie dough brownie

Funfetti Cookie Dough Brownies

Makes one 8×8 pan | Cookie dough and concept adapted from Cupcake Jemma; brownie base adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the brownie base:
  • 57g bittersweet chocolate (I use 70%), chopped
  • 57g unsalted butter
  • 50g neutral oil
  • 63g all-purpose flour
  • 40g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 113g granulated sugar
  • 44g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 eggs, cold
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp espresso powder
For the edible funfetti cookie dough:
  • 120g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 95g granulated sugar
  • 45g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp pure almond extract
  • 30g plain yogurt, buttermilk or sour cream (I used half buttermilk, half sour cream)
  • 100g heat-treated all-purpose flour (from 105g flour baked at 325F for 10 minutes and cooled completely)
  • 25g rainbow sprinkles
  • 25g white chocolate, chopped
For the ruby ganache:
  • 100g ruby chocolate, chopped
  • 100g heavy cream
  • Gel food coloring (optional; I used a drop of Americolor Fuschia)
  • Sprinkles, for garnish (optional)

Method:

Bake the flour for the edible cookie dough:

Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle. Spread 105g of all-purpose flour in an even layer on a sheet pan. Bake flour for 10 minutes. Cool completely before using.

Make the brownie base:

Raise the oven temperature to 350°F. Line an 8 x 8-inch pan with foil or parchment, leaving about 3 inches of overhang on two sides, and lightly grease.

Place the chopped chocolate in a small glass measuring cup with a spout.

Place the butter in a small, light-colored saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir frequently with a heatproof spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as needed. The butter will crackle, foam, turn clear gold, then finally start browning. It’s done when the crackling subsides and you smell toasted nuts. This process takes about 8 minutes total, but the butter can go from browned to burnt in a flash—so keep an eye on it. Pour the butter and all the toasty bits over the chocolate. Add the oil and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and cocoa powder.

Combine the sugars, salt, eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or use a handheld mixer). Whisk on low briefly to combine, then turn up the speed to medium-high and continue whisking until the mixture is thick, pale, and roughly tripled in size, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low and drizzle in the butter-chocolate-oil mixture. Once incorporated, add the flour-cocoa mixture, mixing just to combine. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the top is cracked and glossy and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 17-20 minutes. Cool completely while you prepare the cookie dough layer (you can stick it in the fridge or freezer to hurry this along).

Make the edible funfetti cookie dough:

Combine the butter, sugars, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a handheld mixer, or do it by hand). Mix at medium speed until lighter in color and well combined, about 2-3 minutes. Add the extracts and yogurt and mix until well combined. Add the heat-treated flour and mix on low until combined. Using a flexible spatula, fold in the sprinkles and chopped white chocolate until evenly combined. Using an offset spatula, spread the cookie dough evenly over the cooled brownie base. Refrigerate while you prepare the ganache.

Make the ruby ganache:

Place the chopped ruby chocolate in a heat-safe bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat (or in the microwave), warm the cream until steaming. Pour over the chocolate and let stand for 1 minute, then stir together to form a smooth ganache. Add gel food coloring, if desired, and stir to combine.

Assemble the funfetti cookie dough brownies:

Pour the ganache over the chilled cookie dough, tilting the pan to cover the surface evenly. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Chill in the refrigerator until ganache is set, about 30-60 minutes (again, you can stick it in the freezer to speed this along). For clean slices, use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the chilled brownies. Wipe the knife clean with a hot towel between slices. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage.

funfetti cookie dough brownies

Related recipes and links:

Sourdough Sprinkle Snack Cake

sourdough sprinkle snack cake slice

Happy weekend! Just wanted to say hi and share another fun way to use some of your sourdough discard — sprinkle (or funfetti) cake! This is my favorite soft and fluffy buttermilk cake base from Baked to Order, but rejiggered as a snack cake. Snack cake…I love that term! Basically it’s a small, typically one layer cake that is simple to put together and keep around for snacking — no party or special occasion required. Count me in!

sourdough sprinkle snack cake

Baker’s notes:

  • You can use discard that’s a few days old; I keep discard in the fridge for up to the week or until it starts to produce “hooch” (a thin, liquid alcohol byproduct on top) or smells unpleasantly acidic. For this cake, you’ll want to bring the starter back to room temperature so it mixes into the batter easily.
  • If you don’t have sourdough discard, increase the all-purpose flour and buttermilk by 60 grams each. No other changes needed.
  • I always use plain old rainbow jimmies (the long, rod-shaped sprinkles) for mixing into cakes. They tend to hold their color and not bleed into the batter as much as other styles. Save your fancy designer sprinkles for the top (I get mine from Sweetapolita)!
  • I used half a batch of my fave buttermilk ermine frosting here, with some freeze-dried strawberries mixed in for color and flavor. But this cake would go well with your favorite frosting — it’s a great time to use up any leftover bits you might have in your freezer. I used about 300g of frosting (a little under 2 cups), for reference. By the way, I always advocate for making a full batch of frosting and freezing whatever you don’t use in an airtight bag. It’s such a useful freezer stash item for when you want to make a few cupcakes or another snack cake. Just bring the frosting to room temperature and re-whip it before using (it may look separated or curdled at first, but it should come together after a good whip at the right temp). Frosting temperature sweet spot for me is around ~72F — much warmer than this and the frosting will be too droopy and runny; much cooler and it’ll be dense and hard to spread.

Sourdough Sprinkle Snack Cake

Makes one 8×8 cake | Adapted from Baked to Order

Ingredients:

For the sourdough sprinkle snack cake:
  • 100g cake flour 
  • 40g all purpose flour
  • 130g buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 120g sourdough discard (100% hydration), at room temperature 
  • 84g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 180g granulated sugar
  • 6.5g (1 3/4 tsp) baking powder
  • 3g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
  • 30g neutral oil (such as grapeseed or canola)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • 40g rainbow sprinkles (long jimmies style)

For the strawberry buttermilk ermine frosting:

  • Half batch buttermilk ermine frosting (~300-350g), at room temperature
  • 10g freeze-dried strawberries, ground
  • Assorted sprinkles (for decorating, if desired)

Method:

For the sourdough sprinkle snack cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle. Line an 8×8 square aluminum baking pan with parchment paper, leaving about 3 inches of overhang on two of the sides for easy removal. Lightly grease the pan and parchment.

In a small bowl, whisk the flours together thoroughly.

In a measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the buttermilk and sourdough discard until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer), combine the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple of times during this process. Add the oil and mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.

Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.

With the mixer on low, add the flour and buttermilk mixture in five additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure the batter is well-mixed. Fold in the sprinkles.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.

Bake until the cake is puffed and lightly golden and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, about 35-45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

For the strawberry buttermilk ermine frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or using a handheld electric mixer, beat together the frosting and freeze-dried strawberry powder until smooth. Use immediately.

To assemble: You can leave the cake in the pan for easy transporting, or transfer it to a serving plate. Dollop the frosting on and use an offset spatula or back of a spoon to swirl it over the surface of the cake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days; bring to room temperature before serving.

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sprinkle snack cake on plate

Neapolitan Mallomars (chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies)

neapolitan mallomar
Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Whether you call them Mallomars, whippets, krembos, Viva Puffs, mallowpuffs, pinwheels, or chocolate tea cakes, chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies are beloved childhood treats around the world. Today I’m sharing a homemade Neapolitan version, which fuses vanilla shortbread, strawberry marshmallow, and dark chocolate coating. These cookies are a blast to make and sure to delight the entire family!

These neapolitan mallomars are a little bit of a project, but none of the elements are too difficult. To divide the work I like to bake the shortbread bases one day, then make the marshmallow and dip the cookies in chocolate the next. However, you can make these in one afternoon — choose a time when you are relaxed and ready to have fun in the kitchen!

To temper or not to temper

Recently over on Instagram I asked how people felt about tempering chocolate. Most people said they’d rather not, with “I’ve never done it before” or “It takes too long” being the main reasons. I understand that working with chocolate can seem intimidating, especially if you don’t do it often — I’m definitely no expert!

But if unfamiliarity is the only thing holding you back, I encourage you to give tempering chocolate a shot for this recipe. It’s a fantastic skill to have, and nothing can truly replace the shine and snap of well-tempered chocolate. I used the cocoa butter silk tempering method this time (yes, I made my own silk because we’re still stay-at-home over here so why not). If you have the time and tools for this (sous vide machine, cocoa butter) give it a shot — I was really happy with how easy it was! But if not, this article on chocolate tempering from Sugar Geek Show walks you through a few options. Choose whichever makes the most sense for you!

However, if you’d really rather not temper you can cover the cookies with a mixture of chocolate and coconut oil, which will set nice and snappy in the fridge. If you go this route the chocolate shell will look a little less pristine and you will need to store the cookies in the fridge, but the end product will still taste wonderful.

Baker’s notes:

  • Freeze-dried strawberries are the key ingredient to making a vibrantly fruity marshmallow. I buy mine online, but check your grocery store or local specialty food store as well. Don’t grind the strawberries until you’re ready to make the marshmallow — the strawberry powder tends to clump with exposure to air. If you can’t find freeze-dried strawberries, you can leave it out for a plain marshmallow center.
  • Before dipping the cookies, I like to pour the melted chocolate into a tall, narrow vessel (like a deli quart container). Choose something microwave-safe so that if the chocolate starts to cool and thicken too much, you can reheat it gently (5 second bursts in the microwave, stirring well after each!).
neapolitan mallomars

Neapolitan Mallomars

Makes about 30 cookies

Ingredients:

For the vanilla shortbread:
  • 150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 50g icing (powdered) sugar
  • Scant 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • Seeds from one vanilla bean (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 165g all-purpose flour
For the strawberry marshmallow:
  • 45g freeze-dried strawberries
  • 14g powdered gelatin
  • 76g water (for blooming the gelatin)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 76g water (for the sugar syrup)
  • 95g corn syrup
  • 227g granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
For the chocolate coating:
  • 340g good-quality semisweet chocolate (I used Callebaut 54.5%), tempered
  • 34g refined coconut oil (optional, if not tempering the chocolate)

Method:

For the vanilla shortbread:

Make the shortbread dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer), combine the butter, icing sugar, vanilla bean seeds (if using), and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth and well-combined, about 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the paddle and sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla extract and beat well to combine. Turn the mixer down to low and add the flour, mixing just to combine. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour. If the dough is very soft and sticky, cover and chill for about 10 minutes before proceeding.

Roll and chill the dough: Transfer dough to a piece of parchment paper and pat into a square about 1-inch (2.5-cm) thick. Place another piece of parchment on top and roll dough to about ¼-inch (6-mm) thick, lifting the top piece of parchment occasionally to avoid creases in the dough. Slide dough onto a baking sheet (still sandwiched between pieces of parchment). Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.

Cut and bake the shortbread cookies: When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper (I reuse one of the sheets sandwiching the cookie dough). Use a 1 3/4″ round cookie cutter to cut circles, gathering and rerolling the scraps until the dough is used up. Place cookies on the prepared sheet, spacing about 1″ apart (they won’t spread much).

Bake cookies until set and the edges are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack before assembling.

For the strawberry marshmallow:

Make the freeze-dried strawberry powder and prep your tools: Place the freeze-dried strawberries in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until they form a fine powder. Set aside. Fit a piping bag with a 1/2″ round tip. Arrange all the cooled shortbread cookies on a parchment-lined sheet pan. (Once the marshmallow is whipped, you must immediately pipe it onto the cookies before it starts to set.)

Bloom the gelatin: In a small, wide bowl, mix the gelatin with 76g cool water and the vanilla extract. Stir to combine, making sure all the gelatin is saturated. Leave to bloom while you prepare the sugar syrup.

Cook the sugar syrup: In a medium (3-3.5L) heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the remaining 76g water, corn syrup, sugar, and salt. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat. Stir occasionally with a heat-proof spatula or fork until the mixture starts bubbling, then stop stirring (stirring a boiling sugar syrup can encourage crystallization). Clip on a digital thermometer and continue cooking the syrup until it reaches 250F.

Cool the syrup: Once the syrup reaches temperature, carefully pour the hot syrup into the bowl of a stand mixer, using a flexible, heat-resistant spatula to scrape the pot. Let the syrup cool until it registers 212F on a digital thermometer, about 4-5 minutes.

Whip the marshmallow: Once the syrup has cooled to 212F, scrape the bloomed gelatin into the bowl. Carefully transfer the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium low until the gelatin has melted, then increase the speed to medium-high and whisk until the mixture is fluffy, thick, and roughly tripled in volume and the mixer bowl has cooled to room temperature, about 10 minutes. Turn off the mixer and add the strawberry powder. Mix for about 15-30 seconds, or until powder is evenly mixed in. Grease a flexible spatula or plastic bowl scraper and scrape the marshmallow into the prepared piping bag.

Pipe the marshmallow: To pipe the marshmallow, hold your piping bag at a 90-degree angle about half an inch above a cookie. Squeeze until a mound of marshmallow covers the entire base, then slowly pull up as you stop squeezing. Repeat with the remaining cookies. You can leave the marshmallows with little peaks, or use a damp finger to flatten them down. Let set at room temperature, uncovered, until set and no longer sticky — about 45-60 minutes. (If you have any remaining marshmallow, pipe it onto a piece of parchment and let it set overnight; then cut into cubes and toss with equal parts cornstarch and icing sugar. Store in an airtight container.)

For the chocolate coating:

Prepare the chocolate: When you’re ready to dip the cookies, temper chocolate using your preferred method. Alternatively, chop the chocolate into small, even pieces. Heat the chopped chocolate and coconut oil together in 20-second bursts in the microwave, stirring well in between, until just melted. Be careful not to overheat.

Dip the cookies: Place a piece of parchment under a large wire cooling rack. Holding a cookie by the base, dunk into the chocolate to completely coat marshmallow. Hold upside-down for a few seconds to let any excess chocolate drip off back into the bowl, then place cookie-side-down on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining cookies. If using tempered chocolate, let cookies set at cool room temperature for about an hour before enjoying. If using chocolate-coconut oil coating, refrigerate for about 15 minutes until set. Store leftover cookies in an airtight container for at least a week. Tempered chocolate cookies can be kept at room temperature; chocolate-coconut oil-coated cookies should be stored in the refrigerator.

mallomars on plate

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Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cake with Dark Chocolate Mirror Glaze

chocolate raspberry mousse cake
Note: this post contains affiliate links.

For obvious reasons, I haven’t made many fancy cakes this past year. It’s hard to work up the enthusiasm when sharing celebrations with your extended family and friends isn’t an option (Zoom doesn’t count). But this week was my husband’s birthday, his second pandemic one. And even if the days of the past year have crawled along ever so slowly (especially lately — pandemic fatigue is real, I tell you), it still felt necessary to acknowledge their passing. With cake.

There’s a recipe called David’s Chocolate Raspberry Cake in my book. It’s his favorite, the classic combination of deep chocolate cake, bright raspberries, and silky chocolate frosting. He would have been more than happy with that, but I was in the mood for a Project. I didn’t dare stray from the chocolate-raspberry flavor combination, so this was all about repackaging. We start with the same chocolate cake, but this time the raspberry shows up an an intense gelée, a smooth crémeux (basically a fancy set pudding), and in the rich chocolate mousse. All of that is doused in a gloriously shiny glaze and sprinkled with chocolate crumbs (which taste like oreos) for texture. It was good, very good.

chocolate raspberry mousse cake inside

Tips for making mousse cakes

It’s all about the timing

Layered mousse cakes look impressive and complicated, but they aren’t necessarily more difficult to assemble than a “regular” layer cake. While there are several components, none are difficult to prepare and most can be made ahead of time. I suggest spreading the work out over a few days to keep the process relaxed and fun. For example, this is the schedule I followed:

  • Day 1: Make chocolate cake (store in fridge), gelée (freeze), and crémeux (freeze)
  • Day 2: Make chocolate crumbs, chocolate mousse, and assemble cake (freeze overnight)
  • Day 3 (serving day): Make glaze, glaze and decorate frozen cake, defrost in fridge, eat!

You can definitely condense the project into 2 days. However, the key timing points are to make sure the gelée/crémeux are frozen before assembly, the mousse is used right before assembly, and the entire cake is frozen before glazing. Once glazed, the cake will need at least 2 hours in the fridge to defrost before eating.

chocolate mirror glaze

Useful equipment

There are a few pieces of equipment that make assembling mousse cakes straightforward and produce sleek results.

  • Cake ring: Mousse cakes are often assembled in stainless steel rings that act as molds. I used a 6×3 cake ring.
  • Acetate: Also known as cake collars, these thin, transparent sheets line the cake ring and make the frozen cake easy to unmold. I used 3″ high acetate cut to fit the ring.
  • Instant-read digital thermometer: Important for the crémeux and mirror glaze, which are cooked or cooled to exact temperatures for best results. My favorite is the Thermapen.
  • Immersion blender: Not strictly necessary, but does help remove lumps from mirror glaze for a smooth finish. I use this Hamilton Beach immersion blender.

Specialty ingredients

  • Powdered gelatin: Gelatin is the setting agent in several layers. I generally use powdered because it’s readily available in my area. You’ll need 26g total (if you’re using packets, this is a little less than 4 packets).
  • Ruby chocolate: Ruby chocolate is a special variety of chocolate that is naturally pink. It has a unique fruity flavor that pairs really well with raspberries. I use Callebaut brand.
  • Raspberry puree: You will need 260g raspberry puree total for all the components. You can buy pre-made puree online from some specialty baking / food stores, or make your own. To make raspberry puree, I simply blended one 400g bag of frozen raspberries (after thawing). I used puree with seeds for the gelée, but strained out the seeds for the crémeux and mousse. I had just enough puree; so if you want to use all seedless I would start with ~550g frozen raspberries to ensure you have enough after straining.

Baker’s notes:

  • Before making the dark chocolate raspberry mousse, I recommend having your cake and gelée-crémeux layers trimmed and all your equipment for assembly ready to go. The gelatin in the mousse will begin setting as soon as you add the cream, and the longer you wait the harder it will be to spread.
  • I had intended to use another layer of cake but didn’t have quite enough room on after adding the gelée and crémeux. Next time I make this, I’ll put the first round of cake directly on the bottom of the cake ring and pipe mousse around it. That should give just enough room for another extra cake layer.
  • I didn’t use a piping bag to add the mousse and ended up missing a couple spots around the crémeux. I filled them in with some ganache before glazing, and that worked ok. But after about a day in the fridge the glaze sort of wrinkled where the ganache was (probably because it was a different density compared the mousse). So I definitely recommend using a piping bag and taking care to get all the edges filled with mousse for the cleanest finish!
  • The recipe for chocolate crumb makes quite a lot; feel free to cut in half or even a quarter depending on how much you want to use for garnish. I made a full batch to freeze extras for snacking and other projects.

Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cake with Dark Chocolate Mirror Glaze

Makes one 6×3 mousse cake (serves 8-12) | Chocolate cake recipe adapted from Baked to Order; raspberry gelée, dark chocolate raspberry mousse, and dark chocolate glaze adapted from Dominique Ansel’s Everyone Can Bake; ruby raspberry crémeux adapted from Felicia Mayden; chocolate crumb adapted from Milk

Ingredients:

For the chocolate cake (Makes one 8″ round):
  • 57g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 27g neutral vegetable oil
  • 60g whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g all-purpose flour
  • 34g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 165g light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 80g sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 60g freshly brewed coffee
For the raspberry gelée (makes about 240g or 1 cup):
  • 20g cold water
  • 4g (scant 1 1/4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 185g raspberry puree (with or without seeds)
  • 30g granulated sugar
For the ruby raspberry crémeux (makes about 435g or 1 3/4 c):
  • 140g heavy cream (35%), divided
  • 3g (1 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 115g ruby chocolate, chopped
  • 20g corn syrup
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 100g whole milk
  • 40g seedless raspberry puree
For the chocolate crumb (makes about 350g or 2 1/2 c):
  • 105g all-purpose flour
  • 4g (1 tsp) cornstarch
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 65g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 4g (1 tsp) kosher salt
  • 85g butter, melted
For the dark chocolate raspberry mousse (makes about 750g or 3 c):
  • 7g (2 1/4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 214g dark chocolate, chopped (I used half 54.5% Callebaut, half 70% Callebaut)
  • 182g whole milk, divided
  • 35g seedless raspberry puree
  • 315g cream (35%)
For the dark chocolate mirror glaze (makes about 500g or 2 c):
  • 60g cold water
  • 12g (4 tsp) powdered gelatin
  • 70g unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-processed)
  • 140g heavy cream
  • 75g room temperature water
  • 200g granulated sugar

To assemble:

Method:

For the chocolate cake:

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper, then grease the pan again and dust with the cocoa powder.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. When the butter has melted, remove from the heat, and whisk in the oil, milk, and vanilla. Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whisk the sour cream into the butter mixture, followed by the egg. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until combined. Add the hot coffee and whisk just until smooth.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a skewer inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, about 25-32 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once the pan is cool enough to handle, run an offset spatula around the edge and turn the cake out to finish cooling completely. Wrap and chill the cake in the fridge until ready to assemble.

For the raspberry gelée:

Line a 6-inch cake pan with plastic wrap. Set aside.

Bloom the gelatin: Combine the cold water and gelatin in a small bowl. Stir with a spoon until the gelatin has dissolved. Allow to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Cook the gelée: In a medium saucepan, bring the raspberry puree and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Once the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat. Add the gelatin mixture and whisk to combine, making sure the gelatin completely dissolves.

Set the gelée: Pour the gelée into the prepared pan. Freeze until firm before adding crémeux, about 1 hour.

For the ruby raspberry crémeux:

Bloom the gelatin: Combine the gelatin and 15g of the heavy cream in a small bowl. Stir with a spoon until the gelatin has dissolved. Allow to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Make the crémeux: Place the chopped ruby chocolate in a medium heat-safe bowl and set a fine-meshed sieve over it.

Place egg yolk in a medium bowl. Heat the corn syrup in the microwave until warm. Slowly whisk into the egg yolk until smooth (warming the corn syrup helps temper the yolk).

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 120g heavy cream and whole milk. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Once the cream-milk mixture comes to a simmer, slowly whisk into the egg yolk mixture until well incorporated. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 180F on a digital thermometer. Remove from heat, then add bloomed gelatin and whisk to combine thoroughly. Strain mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute, then whisk together to form a smooth emulsion. Add the raspberry puree and whisk in thoroughly.

Freeze the crémeux: Pour crémeux over set raspberry gelée. Freeze uncovered until top is set, about 1 hour. Press a piece of plastic wrap on top and freeze until completely solid, at least 5 hours or overnight.

For the chocolate crumb:

Preheat the oven to 300F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until well combined. Add the melted butter and stir until the mixture forms small clusters.

Spread the clusters in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. (I like to squeeze some clumps together to get a mixture of bigger and smaller pieces.) Bake for 20-22 minutes, stirring occasionally to promote even baking. The clumps should be slightly moist to the touch; they will harden as they cool.

Let crumbs cool completely, then transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a month.

For the dark chocolate raspberry mousse:

Note: prepare the mousse right before assembling the cake.

Combine the gelatin and 35g whole milk in a small bowl. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Place the chopped dark chocolate in a medium bowl and set a fine-meshed sieve over it.

Put the remaining 147g milk in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until steaming, stirring occasionally. Once steaming, remove from heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatin mixture.

Strain over the chopped chocolate. Let mixture sit, without stirring, for 30 seconds; then whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the raspberry puree and whisk until completel.ombined. Let cool at room temperature while you whip the cream (you want the ganache to be slightly warm when combining with the cream).

Place the cold heavy cream in a large bowl (or in the bowl of a stand mixture fitted with the whisk attachment). Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form.

Slowly pour the ganache into the whipped cream a little at a time, gently folding it in with a spatula until just combined. Transfer to a piping bag and use immediately.

Assemble the chocolate raspberry mousse cake:

Note: I recommend preparing the cake ring and trimming the layers before making the dark chocolate raspberry mousse.

Line the inside of a 6×3 cake ring with acetate and set on a plastic-lined sheet pan. Make sure you have space in your freezer where the sheet pan can fit flat so the cake can freeze properly.

Trim the cake and gelée-crémeux rounds so both are about 1/4″ to 1/2″ smaller than the cake ring (5 1/2″ to 5 3/4″ inches in diameter). Trim the cake to about 1/2″ thickness. (Save leftovers for snacking or another project, or see baker’s notes for thoughts on using more cake layers.)

Prepare the dark chocolate raspberry mousse (see above).

Pipe about 1/2″ of mousse into the bottom of the cake ring. Lightly tap the pan to ensure there are no air bubbles and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Set the cake layer on top of the mousse and gently press into the mousse until the mousse comes over the edge of the cake a bit. Pipe in about 3/4″ layer of mousse into the cake ring covering the cake layer. Set the gelée-crémeux layer on top of the mousse, gelée side on top. Gently press into the mousse until the mousse comes up the edge of the crémeux. Pipe mousse around the edge of the gelée-crémeux, then pipe in mousse to fill the remainder of the mold. Tap pan again to remove any air bubbles. Smooth the top so it is perfectly flush with the top of the mold. (You may have a little mousse leftover — consider it a baker’s treat!)

Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer. Freeze until solid, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Make the dark chocolate glaze:

Note: prepare glaze about 1-2 hours before you want to glaze the cake, or at least 3-4 hours before serving. After glazing the cake will still need fully defrost in the fridge before serving.

Combine the gelatin and 60g cold water in a medium bowl. Stir until the gelatin has dissolved. Set aside to bloom for 5-10 minutes.

Sift the cocoa powder into a medium saucepan. Add the 75g room temperature water and stir to form a thick paste. Add a small amount of cream and whisk to loosen. Add the remaining cream and sugar and whisk to combine.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the glaze just comes to a boil, about 3-5 minutes.

Set a fine-meshed sieve over the bloomed gelatin and pour the glaze through the sieve. Whisk to combine and melt the gelatin. Blend with an immersion blender to remove lumps and air bubbles. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and cool to 95F before glazing the cake (this took me about an hour). Right before glazing, strain glaze again into a tall pouring container to remove any air bubbles — pour from a low distance for best results. (Note: glaze can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week; rewarm in the microwave to 95F before using.)

Glaze the mousse cake:

At least 3 hours before serving, unmold and glaze the cake. Line a sheet pan with plastic wrap and set a sturdy plastic container or 4″ cake pan on top. (You want something smaller than the diameter of the cake so the glaze will drip off properly, but make sure it’s level and sturdy.) Take the cake out of the freezer and remove the cake ring. Move the cake to a 6″ cake board and remove the acetate. Double check the glaze is at working temperature — at 95F — before glazing. If not, wrap cake tightly in plastic and keep in freezer until ready to glaze — the cake must be frozen and not starting to melt when the glaze is applied.

In one swift and confident motion, pour most of the glaze over the center of the cake. If everything is at the proper temperature, the glaze should flow down and cling to the sides of the cake. If there are any spots that get missed, use an offset spatula to gently smear some extra glaze on. Let set for a couple of minutes, then use an offset spatula to cut off any stray drips at the base of the cake.

Finish and serve the mousse cake

Use a cake lifter or a couple of offset spatulas to move the glazed cake onto a serving plate. (The extra glaze can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week or frozen; rewarm before using.) Decorate with chocolate crumbs at this point if desired (they will adhere better when the glaze is still a little sticky). Transfer cake to the refrigerator to thaw completely before serving (at least 2 hours, or up to a couple days). Decorate with edible glitter paint, and fresh raspberries (brushed with some warmed apricot jam for shine), if desired, before serving.

chocolate raspberry mousse cake slice

Related recipes and resources:

Brown butter mochi squares (gluten-free)

brown butter mochi squares
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Many of the treats I remember my mom making came from a well-used Hawaiian church cookbook, a gift from her family in Oahu. Our family favorite was butter mochi, a popular Hawaiian dessert made from mochiko (also known as sweet rice flour or glutinous rice flour), eggs, sugar, butter and coconut milk. Imagine the chewy texture of mochi combined with the rich flavor of coconut milk and topped with a crisp, caramelized crust. So good! And bonus: butter mochi is very easy to make. The recipe I’m sharing here is based on my mom’s, with a couple small tweaks (*cough* brown butter *cough*) for extra flavor.

Mochiko: the key ingredient

Butter mochi is a fairly flexible recipe — I’ve seen versions with varying amounts of butter and sugar; some use different types of milk or include shredded coconut and other add-ins. But the one non-negotiable ingredient is mochiko (sweet rice flour, or glutinous rice flour), which is milled from long grain glutinous rice. Mochiko is a naturally gluten-free flour that is responsible for butter mochi’s signature chewy texture. I recommend Koda Farms brand as that’s the flour I used to test this recipe (and what my mom always uses as well) — it’s available at Asian/International supermarkets and online. Do NOT substitute mochiko with regular rice flour or any other flour.

Pro-tip: pan-fried butter mochi

Once butter mochi has cooled, it’s perfectly enjoyable straight from the pan. However, my absolute favorite way to eat butter mochi is to pan fry it, which crisps and caramelizes the crust even further and warms the center through — the textural contrast is perfection. Just heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan over medium-low heat and fry each side until golden (about 1-2 minutes). Cool for a minute before devouring, and thank me later.

pan fried butter mochi

Baker’s notes

  • Mochiko has a tendency to clump when added to the liquid ingredients, so I like to sift it in. Don’t be afraid to work out any flour lumps with a spatula or else you might end up with “flour bombs” in the finished butter mochi.
  • For clean slices, let the butter mochi cool completely in the pan before removing and cutting. I like to let butter mochi cool and set overnight for the best texture.
brown butter mochi squares

Brown butter mochi squares (gluten-free)

Makes one 8×8 pan (16 2-inch squares)

Ingredients:

  • 57g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, cubed
  • One can (400ml) full-fat coconut milk
  • 200g (1 c) granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal — use half the amount for table salt)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs (cold is fine)
  • 225g (1 1/2 c) mochiko (sweet rice flour — I like Koda Farms brand)

Method:

  • Preheat oven and prepare the pan: Preheat the oven to 350F with a rack in the middle. Line an 8×8 metal baking pan with foil, dull side up. Leave a couple inches overhang on two sides for easy removal. Lightly grease the foil.
  • Brown the butter: Place the cubed butter in a small, light-colored saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the heat up to medium-high. Stir frequently with a heatproof spatula, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as needed. The butter will crackle, foam, turn clear gold, then finally start browning. It’s done when the crackling subsides and you smell toasted nuts. This process takes about 10 minutes total, but the butter can go from browned to burnt in a flash—so keep an eye on it. Pour the butter and all the toasty bits into a glass measuring cup or medium bowl. Whisk in the coconut milk.
  • Mix the batter: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (you can also use a hand mixer or a whisk), combine the sugar, vanilla, salt, baking powder and eggs. Whisk on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and beat until the mixture is thickened and pale, about 2-3 minutes (a little longer if by hand). Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually stream in the butter-coconut milk mixture. Mix until smooth and combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sift in the mochiko and mix on low until the batter is smooth. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure the batter is well-mixed and no pockets of flour remain. If there are any flour lumps, use the spatula to press them out.
  • Bake: Scrape the batter into the prepared pan (it will be on the thin side) and bake until the top is golden brown and feels dry and springy to the touch, about 55-65 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan (preferably overnight). Use a sharp knife to cut into squares; wipe the blade clean with a warm towel between slices. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.
brown butter mochi squares

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