Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Coffee, Caramel & Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

I am pretty excited about this!
This is the first cupcake that is not from a recipe that I have created all by myself!

The test cupcake is in the oven now. It is rising...which should safely mean I didn't create a cookie!
These cupcakes contain coffee, peanuts, caramel, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, one on top and one inside...I really hope that the inside part turns out right!
Okay cupcakes are out of the oven and look like cupcakes...that's a plus! I hope they taste as good as they look...but that will have to wait until they are decorated first!
The icing is a buttercream icing base with lots of caramel and strongly brewed coffee added to it. Unfortunately, I am not sure how much caramel and coffee I used, since I just kept adding until the texture was how I wanted. I ended up putting the caramel into a piping bag with the smallest tip I could find to try and keep some of the mess contained.
I knocked the icing out of the park! It is super yummy! I hope that I can replicate it someday!
The cupcake tasted awesome too! I have had many homemade recipe cupcakes with this texture, but I would still like to improve on it a tiny bit!
The recipe has been changed slightly and I will probably still change it some more but here is one of the versions:
1-1/2 cups of AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1-1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup espresso coffee
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs + 2 egg yolks
1 stick butter
1/2 cup applesauce

In the end, for my very first cupcake that I didn't make from a box, book recipe, or anyone else's recipe...I was very pleased with the outcome!

Lesson learned: Don't be afraid to experiment!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tea and Cupcakes!

No tutorial just good cupcakes! I was in the mood for cupcakes yesterday (when am I not?) and I wanted to change it up a bit since I was using leftover butterfly liners and picks...look famaliar? The secret ingredient in these cupcakes...strong brewed Dragonfruit Herbal Tea (containing Hibiscus flowers, orange peel, ginger, chickory, damiana, peppermint, and natural dragonfruit flavor) was used in place of the liquid in the recipe both in the cake and in the icing.

Don't forget to check out Cupcake Tuesday for a new cupcake every Tuesday!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Revisiting Red Velvets!

It's Flashback Friday!
This is a weekly segment that I post to show you some of my past adventures...

This week I will show you some of my adventures in finding the perfect Red Velvet recipe!
This quest began July 2010. I started with a recipe from the Paula Deen Website called "Bobby’s Lighter Red Velvet Cake" created by Bobby Deen. After beginning my obsession with cupcakes, I immediately tried to find ways to make them with less calories and less fat. Being the recipe was for cake (216 calories), and I was making almost double the amount of servings in cupcakes these were probably around 150 calories each...not bad given the "normal" cupcake can be close to 400 calories!
Here is a picture of the finished project, naked, and then with the Cream Cheese Frosting included in the recipe. It was July, and hot and not long after I began frosting them, it started melting, so I had to put them in the fridge to thicken it back up and take a quick picture, then back into the fridge!
These cupcakes tasted great and everyone devoured them quick!
I also had a lot of frosting left from me trying to thicken it, just creating more in the the next day I decided to try Martha Stewart's Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe using the same Cream Cheese Frosting from the previous recipe, thus the same look. This recipe was a bit greaser, being higher in fat and calories, some may call that moist...sorry. When I just looked up the link to the Martha Stewart Red Velvet Recipe, some people liked them and said they were super moist, while others did not and used terms like "oily". Although we did eat all of them, they were not worth the extra calories and fat at all.
So those 2 adventures in making Red Velvet Cupcakes from scratch cured my urge to make anymore for awhile. The next time I made Red Velvets was from a box...Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix...around Christmas and... I had some leftover white buttercream frosting to use up. There is no oil...or eggs... in these cupcakes! With a very little bit of frosting...these were only about 150 calories at most. (I did have all this figured out wen I made the cupcakes, but I can't find the paper where I did so.)
The above cupcakes were moist....tasted great to me and were created with:
Duncan Hines Red Velvet Cake Mix
1 Cup of Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Cup of Water
that's all!
Bake according to box directions! Now this doesn't work as well for an actual cake, but I have done it with an 8-inch 2 layer round cake and it does work, they are just very fragile...I find the eggs help with stability more when you need to make a cake vs. making cupcakes. Anyway, this is my favorite way to make cupcakes and is good if you have an allergy to eggs.

So, again my Red Velvet craving was finished for the month. In January, my husband and I went out for dinner and they actually had cupcakes listed for I had to try them! We ordered one Red Velvet and One Carrot Cake.  The waitress brought them out and...well...they were not very appealing to the eye, but they did taste good, not from scratch I don't think, but they were good, somehow they were missing something. (They are the cupcakes pictured to the left below.) The next day, I had to recreate them, only to what they looked like on the menu instead. Since I had previously liked the Duncan Hines Red Velvet box mix, I decided to use that again, only this time I followed the box directions exactly with oil and egg to see what they were supposed to taste like. (My cupcake is the one on the right.)
The verdict...I supposed I just have a taste for the unsweetened applesauce in my cupcakes, maybe because it cuts some of the sweetness down. I found following the box directions to make a greasier cupcake and not worth the calories or fat! Note to self...don't follow directions!
I bought cute little heart marshmallows for Valentine's Day, and then forgot about them until a few days after Valentine's. I had already made Valentine's Cupcakes and eventhough the day had passed, I was making more. This time I tried another variation with the Duncan Hines Red Velvet box mix.
I went with the "lower fat" directions just replacing the oil with unsweetened applesauce, still using the same amount of water, and the eggs that it called for. It didn't seem much different than the ones using all applesauce. Verdict...I'll take applesauce in those Red Velvets please!
If you have a non greasy, simply irresistible Red Velvet Cupcake Recipe...I would love to bake it and feature it right here! Low fat and low cal would be a plus, but not required.  Until the perfect recipe is found, I will stick with the box mix on this one!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Owl Cake Pops

Today I am making Owl Cake Pops inspired by Bakerella! These are on the cover of her book and super cute! I have been wanting to make these for some time and today is the day. I have been without cupcakes or dessert for 2 days and that is max for me! I can't wait any longer!

Anyway, my daughter has a Field Hockey game this afternoon and I don't have a whole lot of time, so I don't want to use a full cake, and I really don't want to have to figure out what to do with the rest of the cake that I don't use, so I got a "Snack Size" box of Duncan Hines Devils Food Cupcake Mix. It just makes 12 cupcakes, so I am figuring about 24 cake pops. Since I am trying to do these with minimal time, I just used the hand mixer, so I could throw that bowl in the dishwasher. As usual, I used applesauce instead of oil. I am baking the cake in an 8" round pan sprayed with Wilton Bake Easy Non-Stick Spray. This can has lasted a very long time, I should probably add that to the shopping list so I don't run out right in time for my Wilton Course 1: Decorating Basics class starting on April 4th! I am so excited, can hardly wait! Anyway the cake is in the oven right I am just sitting here waiting!
The ingredients needed for this project are:
A cooked and cooled cake
a tablespoon frosting
chocolate chips (for the ears)
Wings(I am using the brown Reese's Pieces)
Eyes (I am using the candy from the Wilton Easter Candy Necklace Kit)
Beak (I am using Wilton Brownie-Crunch Rainbow Chips)
Flower shaped Sprinkles for feet
I had originally wanted to do these in blue and pink too, but with the time restraint, I am just sticking to brown. I am going to save the other color necklace candies for another time and maybe the Easter Bunny will make a few for my youngest daughters basket! The kit makes 8 necklaces. When taking the picture, I realized there are no white beads, so I guess I will use the yellow and save the blue and pink for later owls.
I just went to check on the cake, not done yet, glad I am not making an actual cake out of it, it has a huge crack across the top and isn't even done yet. That is the nice thing about cake pops, it doens't matter what the actual cake looked like!'s done! Time to cool...
Now it should be about time to make the balls for the cake pops!
I dumped the cake in a large bowl and chopped it up! Easy so far!
Then I plopped some chocolate frosting in, a heaping tablespoon....this is where I made a mistake. It is the same amount of frosting I usually use, but not thinking it wasn't the same about of cake! Everyone knows you can't make cake pops if the cake is too wet, it won't form a good ball or stay on the we have to fix that problem. I grabbed the cocoa powder and dumped a couple tablespoons in, okay I didn't measure but that was probably about  it, enough to dry out the cake some and get it to a consistency I could work with!
Bakerella's Cake Pop book says to make them triangular. Well look that is about the shape I can make with my hand, so I used that as my guide. For a half box I should be able to make 24 and I made that's pretty close!
Even my 3 year old got into the rolling of the cake balls. She loves to help and is really getting good at really helping! All of the Cake triangular kind of shape fit on one wax paper covered cookie sheet and off to the refrigerator for about 15 minutes while I get a few other things done! Yes, I do have other things to do than make cake pops all day! While these are chilling I put the entire 14 ounce bag of candy melts into my Wilton Chocolate Pro.
So now it's time to insert the stick. I just dip the stick into the melted chocolate and then into the cake and back into the refrigerator for a few.
Above- the first pic is when I attached the chocolate chip ears, just dipped them into the melting chocolate and stuck them on the cake pop. In the freezer I have 4 earless owls and 4 with ears. These just stay in there while I quickly work, not long enough to freeze or they will crack. The last picture is one that is freshly dipped.
After I dip, I tap on the size of the pot and slowly spin around the pop to knock off extra chocolate. After some time, all 22 are dipped...only one cracked, which I redipped and it is fine now, you would never know which one it was. At this point they are all looking more like Bear faces to me than owls.
Time to decorate, this is the easy part. First I get all my supplies for each owl ready so I am not digging around trying to find the right color. I also learned there are not many brown Reese's Pieces in a bag, so there will be all colored wings AND the little Wilton Candy Necklace set, is already divided up into 8 little bags and there is enough in one bag to do all 22 owls, no point in opening another bag, so they will have different color eyes too. I layed out 4 or 5 owls at a time with the supplies needed to decorate each. This part went really fast, only about a minute each to decorate!
I used the opposite end of a paint brush to dip into the melted chocolate and then to use as glue to attach each piece. As each set dried, pretty well instantly I placed them in my holder.
 I am still using the upsidedown chip box with holes poked in it. I put a papertowel down on it first and there is a towel underneath to keep them from sliding around. Usually I crop the picture so that you can't see the box, but I wanted to show you that you really don't need to get anything fancy or invest in tons of styrofoam. Use what you have. One day I will get a holder...I just haven't seen anything I really like.
This is how I usually photograph them.
Or I put them in a cup to photograph them.
My 3 year old got the first Owl Cake Pop and quickly took a bite...and then handed it over to let me take a picture of just the pop... She is used to the drill! When I asked my husband what animal he thought is was...he chose right, the first time "owl"! So, I guess I didn't do so bad!

Anyways.....I don't know if you get as excited about cupcake stuff as I do, but here are some new finds I found while out shopping this week that I got for future projects!

The Betty Crocker mix is Spring Chip, more pastel, similar to Pillsbury's Funfetti but not as bright. You can't see the specks from this picture. Anyway, they had the frosting too, but the chips were already mixed in the frosting and I didn't really like that for what I am thinking of using it for, so I got the Pillsbury Funfetti Spring Frosting that has there cute little sprinkles seperate.
The Nordicware Cupcake Papers, nice for anytime cupcakes, Orange with polka-dots, Green with stripes, and dark Pink/Reddish with flowers, its a pack of 75 so each color can have it's own batch of cupcakes in the future!
The I couldn't resist the Vanilla Cupcake Goldfish....YUM! They are already gone!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Crazy for Carrots!

I have seen the Duncan Hines Decadent Classic Carrot Cake in the store for awhile now. The real whole raisins and carrots made this mix sound like it would really be good, not to mention quick and easy! Today I decided to make them...but first, I never make plain looking cupcakes, so I had to think of a quick and easy way to decorate them with stuff I have on hand and different than my last Carrot Cake Cupcakes (pictured below)
July 2010
For this Carrot Cake Cupcake, I used homemade cream cheese frosting and the carrot was piped on with buttercream icing.

For the cupcakes today, I chose to use Wilton Candy Melts to make a candy carrot to decorate the cupcake. I already had orange melts, but didn't have green so I used white and colored it with the Wilton Candy Color Green. I first melted the white candy melts in my Wilton Chocolate Pro and colored them green. I just used enough to cover the bottom of the Wilton Chocolate pro, about 1/4 inch. Since it was just a small amount I just used a zipper bag and cut a very tiny bit of the corner off. Freehand, I piped the carrot stems. I sat the stems aside (which my daughter called frog feet), put the orange melts into the Wilton Chocolate Pro to melt, and then mixed the Carrot Cake batter up (using applesauce instead of oil), and got those into the oven.  By then, the stems had set up and the orange melts were ready. Using the same zipper bag method, I piped the carrot right over the edge of the stem so they would stick together.
These carrots only took a few minutes to do, I could have probably taken longer and made them a little bit neater, but I am just trying to make a quick treat, not take all day!
Cupcakes are out of the oven and smelling good!
As soon as the cupcakes cooled, I frosted them with the Duncan Hines Cream Cheese Frosting that came in the kit and put one of the candy carrots on top.
Quick, easy, and from start to finish done in just a little over an hour!
March 2011
My 3 year old loves raisins and carrots, so she really loves the cupcakes!
I think the cupcake taste like homemade too, not the frosting so much, but the cake does! I may actually throw a couple little snack size boxes of raisins in them next time to add a few more, but this is really different from the other boxed Carrot Cake mixes in having real carrot and raisin in them!

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Hello, Cupcake!" and "What's New Cupcake?" Cupcakes!

It's Flashback Friday!
This is a weekly segment that I post to show you some of my past adventures...

(As time has passed I have found a couple more pictures that I forgot to add- Halloween project added 3/20/2011, Gingerbread Boys project added 4/17/2011)

Last year when I saw the "The What's New Cupcake!" book by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, I was immediately interested and also found that they had a previous book, "Hello, Cupcake!" These were cute, different cupcakes, that are more like artwork than food. These books are a must have, even if you don't bake, they are just fun to look at! If you do like to bake, these are certain to catch the eye of anyone that eats them! Anyways, I have re-created a few of there cupcake designs which are pictured below! I have changed each design slightly to fit my need. I hope you enjoy!

I made these Dog Cupcakes on 9/2/2010 for my Maltese Rex's birthday (of course he didn't eat them!)
I used funfetti cake mix and buttercream icing. For the nose and tongue I made some homemade fondant and colored it and molded the eyes, nose, and tongue instead of using the suggested candies.

"The House That Boo Built"...I made this for Halloween 2010. The trees were made from dark melting chocolate...yum! I did have to use a few toothpicks to hold up the trees. This was pretty fun to make!
I made these Turkey Cupcakes for Thanksgiving 2010!
It is a pumpkin cupcake with chocolate frosting. I used a box Spice Cake mix with a can of plain organic pumpkin, no eggs, no oil, no water, just the mix and a can of pumpkin. Yes it is super thick batter, but it works!
As far as the decoration, I had read many reviews about these falling apart, so I wanted to take extra care and time in making these. I started on Thanksgiving Eve. For the eyes I used that fabulous Wilton Cooking Icing, just dropped on a drop and put a sprinkle for the iris. The red waddle on the beak was made with Wilton Cookie Icing too! I let the mini cupcake face dry sitting normal overnight before assembling. I collected all the different colors of candy corn for the feathers around Halloween. The cookies were Anna's Thin Ginger cookies which I used *once again* Wilton Cookie Icing to glue on the candy corn the night before I needed them. When actually assembling the cupcakes o Thanksgiving Day, I put a toothpick into the face cupcake to stick it into the body cupcake. I also used a whole marshmallow to hold that cookie up, along with a couple strategically placed toothpicks.

I made these Cupcakes in Martini Cups for New Year's Eve 2010!
The cupcakes were not baked in the plastic martini cups. While the cupcakes were actually baking, I used corn syrup on the rim of each cup and dipped each in a different color sanding sugar to go with my color scheme. This dryed totally, pretty quickly. It took 2 containers of storebought frosting, melted in the microwave and then colored swirled in the cup until dried before placing the unwrapped cupcake into the martini cup to stop up the hole and then finished filling with the melted frosting. This is where an extra set of hands comes in handy to swirl that first spoonful of frosting in the cup until it is no longer trying to run down the cup. I used Jelly Belly's for these trying to coordinate colors with the frosting and the candies. For embellishments I used paper umbrellas I already hand on hand and gummy candies that I cut a small slit in and slid on the edge of the cup.

I made these "Gingerbread Boys" cupcakes in January this year. They were from the "Hello, Cupcake!" book. They were pretty easy just dipping the cupcakes into melted canned chocolate frosting, letting that dry, a few gum drops, and then outline. I used Wilton Cookie Icing to pipe on the outline. I was in a bit of a rush so didn't get the outline piped as well as I had hoped.

So far these are the only of the "Hello,Cupcake"/"What's New Cupcake" designs that I have re-created, but there are definately more in the plans!
A few months back I looked at a blog (before I knew about blogging really) where a girl works her way though this book...does anyone know the name of this blog? I would like to find it again.

"Hello,Cupcake"/"What's New Cupcake" has a monthly email newsletter on there blog to sign up for too with a new idea delivered right into your email box every month!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day--Shamrock and Blarney Stone Cupcakes!

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today for St. Patrick's Day I am making 2 different Cupcakes. One is Shamrock Cupcakes made with homemade peppermint fondant and the others are cute Blarney Stone Cupcakes inspired by the "Hello, Cupcake!" Newsletter & Blog.
24 Devils Food or Chocolate Cupcakes
Chocolate or Homemade Frosting
Fondant (ingredients and recipe below)
1 pack of Oreo Cookies (to crush for dirt)
5 Chewy Granola Bars (to break up for Blarney Stones)
Ambrosia White Bark or your favorite melting chocolate
Wilton Candy Color- Black from the Garden Candy Color Set
A few spoonfuls of Icing, colored Kelly Green (to be piped on as grass with tip 233)

"Hello, Cupcake!" and Disney Family Fun, along with many other recipes, and websites use Gummy Spearmint leaves or Green Gumdrops rolled in sugar to make the Shamrocks. Martha Stewart, uses actual Shamrocks or 3-leaf clovers. I was unable to find the candy after going to several stores, and everything in my yard is still dead, so I decided to make the Shamrocks from homemade peppermint fondant.

First we will make the Homemade Peppermint Fondant Shamrocks to place on top of 12 of the cupcakes.
To start we need to make our Homemade Peppermint Fondant. I don't even know if this would really be considered tastes like candy! I have never tasted real fondant, but I hear not everyone likes it. I created this recipe with my own trial and error and ended up with more than double what I need, so you may wish to cut everything in half...or if you have little is fun to play with and keep them busy while you work!

2T softened margarine
1-1/2T light corn syrup
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
1-1/4 cup confectioners sugar
Wilton Kelly Green Icing Color

Mix the first 4 ingredients above in a small bowl and a little of the green icing color (by dabbing a toothpick into the coloring a little at a time until the desired green color is achieved). Knead until fully incorporated. Roll your fondant in between 2 pieced of wax paper to about 1/8 of an inch.  You may need to powder your surface a little with more confectioners sugar if it seems to stick. Using a heart cutter, cut out at least 36 mini hearts (for 3 leaf more for 4 leaf) and then roll by hand 12 thin stems.

Place these on a sheet of wax paper to dry while preparing the cupcakes. Make extra Hearts and Stems in case some happen to get eaten before they land on the cupcakes!
Now mix and bake 24 cupcakes in Shamrock liners, using your favorite recipe or box mix, plus 1 tsp peppermint extract. I am using Duncan Hines Devils Food Cake Mix. Bake and cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling...
Put your white chocolate melts into your Wilton Chocolate Pro or microwave them in microwave safe bowl according to package directions. With just a touch of Wilton black candy coloring on the end of a toothpick, color the melts grey...just a tiny dot will do!
Break up your Chewy Granola bar into stone shape pieces and dip them into the now grey candy melts. This can either be done with a spoon or by sticking them on a toothpick. I tried with the toothpick first, which worked but then I found it just easier to use a spoon and give it a swirl and then place it on the wax paper to dry.
Now is a good time to remove the cream from a row of the Oreos and crush the cookie part for dirt. Go ahead and eat the white Oreo know you want to, unless you have already eaten way too much of that Peppermint Fondant! :)

Once the cupcakes are totally cooled, frost them with the chocolate frosting, rolling the top of the cupake in Oreo immediately, while the frosting is still fresh.
For 12 of the "Hello, Cupcake!" Blarney Stone Cupcakes- Place a couple Blarney Stones on each cupcakes and pipe on a few springs of grass with Wilton Tip 233 and the green frosting.

For 12 Shamrock Cupcakes- Assemble each Shamrock with 3 hearts and a stem on top of cupcake. For a 4 leaf clove, just use 4 hearts and  a stem.'s time to eat them!

Happy St. Patrick's Day Everyone!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rockin' Shamrock Cookies

We have been baking cut out cookies for years, well by we I mean my husband and oldest daughter. He grew up making cut out cookies with his Mom and....I didn't. For years this has just been something that they have done on Christmas Eve, while I watched and waited and sometimes slightly got in a little on the decorating part. A few years ago I began getting more involved in this cookie making...the cupcakes brought it out in me!...and now we bake and decorate cut out cookies for every holiday or season! We...meaning usually my daughter does all the mixing, rolling, baking, and I decorate,
but today I was nervously on my own!
The recipe that I like to use the most is adapted from Martha Stewart- Essential Recipe No. 2: Sugar Cookies (I have changed it slightly but you can follow the link to the original recipe, if you wish)
1 stick margarine (softened)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup regular granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp mint extract (or vanilla or whatever you want...they are your cookies!)
3-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
Oven preheated to 350

(1) In my stand mixer with the regular paddle, first I mix the margarine, applesauce, and sugar until fluffy. Then, add in the egg, salt, and extract of your choice, until mixed. Slowly add in the flour, about a cup at a time. (2) Once this starts getting thicker I like to switch to the dough hook to finish up. (3) Once everything is in the bowl and combined, I put about a third to half of the dough on a piece of wax paper, and cover with another piece of wax paper. Martha Stewart showed this on her show a couple of years ago and while my daughter likes to flour the counter and make a mess and so may you, I like to roll the dough this way for less clean up!
(4)I then roll the dough to about a quarter of an inch or whatever suits my mood.  (5) I use my cookie cutter to cut as many shapes as possible. (6) Then I remove all the negative dough and put back in the pile to reroll.
Bake the cookies in a 350 degree preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, these particular cookies took 9 minutes. (7) Once removed from oven let them cool 2 or 3 minutes on the cookie sheet and then move carefully to wire rack. (8) When all cookies were baked and totally cool, I stacked them to prepare for decorating. Today this recipe made 42 shamrocks and 1 indeterminable shape...already devoured!
It took years for me to even figure out what type of icing should go on the cookies! I started with the little tubes at the grocery store and cake frosting, moving on to a messy glaze, then last summer discovered royal icing. However, last Christmas I learned about the Wilton Cookie Icing.  This stuff last forever, is microwavable, and quick and easy with no mess to clean up! I also had some St. Patrick's Day Sprinkles on hand so figured I may as well throw some of those on too!
The solid green cookie above I had to use a little paring knife to clean up the mess I made, that stayed put when I picked up the cookie...I had hoped it would not!
One of my favorite ways to decorate with this icing is with a little swirl, zig-zag, I don't know what to call it. (9) For this particular cookie I started by coloring 1/2 each heart shape in the leave and half the stem green, (10) then the other half white, (11) and then got a tooth pick and dragged it back and forth between the colors, not lifting up the toothpick until I am ready to go to the next little heart leaf.
Then I did some just half green and half white.
Below is a finished Shamrock
These take about 2 hours to dry, just touch them and see, if it isn't dry you can just eat it and pretend it never happened! Have fun with it!
Here are the 40 decorated Shamrocks!
(A few hours after the cookies posed for this picture...half disappeared!)

Here are some more cookies I have made with the Wilton Cookie Icing

Find more great St. Patricks Day Recipes at Luck of the Irish Holiday Party Blog!

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