Mascarpone Blueberry Bars

I have a confession to make. I love organization. Between color coding, labeling, sorting, to me there’s nothing more exciting than that moment when everything comes together and is easily accessible. Whenever I get a little bit busy, however, this love for organization seems to get shoved to the bottom of my to do list and all my previously worked out systems seem to get all out of wack.

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This recipe, for instance, I first tested in early February. That’s right, the February that was three whole months ago. After the initial test I tweaked it a little bit to adjust the flavoring, but within a few days it was ready to go and should have been posted in early March. Well, right around March life got a little bit busy and I decided to put off writing up the post for one week. That one week turned into two and before I knew it it was May and my last blog post was from three months ago, which just isn’t right. So my sincerest apologizes, hopefully such a lengthy hiatus will not happen again.

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Now, onto these bars. They’re creamy, slightly sweet, and have the perfect amount of pop from the blueberries. Complete with a sugar cookie crust, these bars practically melt in your mouth bite after bite, making them the perfect spring dessert.

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These bars look super complex and fancy, but really they couldn’t be more simple. Whip up the crust and mascarpone layer, pour them together, bake, and voila! You’re done!

Mascarpone Blueberry Bars

  • Servings: 9
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Ingredients

  • Crust:
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 tablespoon mascarpone
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Filling:
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Directions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees and grease a 8inch square pan. Line it with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl beat the butter, mascarpone, and granulated sugar until combine. Add the flour and salt and mix until a ball of dough forms.
  3. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared ban and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl whisk together all of the filling ingredients except the blueberries. Once combine, fold in the blueberries.
  5. Pour the filling mixture over the crust topping with additional blueberries for aesthetic.
  6. Bake for one hour or until the mascarpone layer is set. Allow to completely cool before cutting and enjoy!

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Banana Bread Coffee Cake

Every week without fail I buy a bunch of bananas. Every week without fail I eat one and watch the rest of the bananas in the bunch rapidly brown until they are far past an edible standard. Hence, every week without fail I whip up some combination of banana bread and banana pancakes. As much as I love these two staples, they can get a little bit repetitive when baked on repeat week after week. It’s gotten to the point where I’ve memorized both recipes and can probably whip them up with my eyes closed. Yes, I like them, but when my bananas turned brown this week I knew that it was time for a change.
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fullsizeoutput_2Enter this banana bread coffee cake. With a moist crumb and a lovely cinnamon streusel on top, it’s the perfect way to shake up my weekly routine. Paired with a warm cup of caffeine, this coffee cake makes for the perfect weekend indulgence, especially now that the weather is turning for the colder and snowier.

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I will definitely be baking this crowd pleaser for some upcoming brunches and breakfasts I have on my schedule. Maybe I’ll even add it to the banana baking rotation to keep things fresh!

Banana Bread Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 16
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Ingredients

    • For the Coffee Cake: 
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter softened
    • 3 bananas mashed
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1/3 cup milk
    • For the Streusel:
    • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 by 9 square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter, banana, and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes. Add the egg and beat until combine.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk with the butter mixture, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. In a small bowl combine all of the streusel ingredients and mix until combine.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and crumble the streusel on top. Bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. Enjoy!

Note: For additional flavor you can add up to 1/2 cup of mix-ins (like pecans, walnuts, chocolate chips, ect.). Fold the additional ingredients in after the batter is combine, but be careful not to over mix.

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Gingerbread Bundt with a Cream Cheese Brown Butter Glaze

Merry Christmas Eve!

I touched on how much of a fan I am of the holidays in last month’s post, but I don’t think I stressed it enough. Something about the cheerful spirit, delicious food, and festive weather just makes me so happy. Currently, it’s snowing, I’m curled up on my coach with a cup of peppermint tea, my laptop, and my pup, with a cake for a client in the oven. The whole house smells of Christmas between the evergreen tree in the living room and the lovely aroma of nutmeg wafering it’s way over from the oven. I honestly don’t think that it gets any better than this.

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For Christmas, my area of expertise has always been dessert. Last year, I whipped up a raspberry chocolate chip cake for Christmas Eve and a chocolate peanut butter fudge cake for Christmas, because if you haven’t met my family we need multiple desserts for every holiday (but that’s a story for another occasion). This year, I wanted to do something a little more wintery for Christmas Eve, but I wasn’t sure exactly what. Last Christmas, I was given a beautiful new bundt pan, so I knew I wanted to use that but I was stuck on what flavor to make it. A few days later, I stumbled upon a brand new jar of molasses in my pantry, I knew that it just had to be gingerbread.

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If you’re looking for something to make for your Christmas dinner, look no further because I’ve got you covered. This gingerbread bundt is incredibly moist and easy. Complete with a cream cheese brown butter glaze, it’s sure to wow a crowd with the complex nutty notes that brown butter brings, without eating up hours of your day. Cleanup is minimal, especially since the glaze is made in a singular pot instead of multiple, which is just what you want during the holidays.

 

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! See you in the New Year!

Gingerbread Bundt with a Cream Cheese Brown Butter Glaze

  • Servings: 16
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Ingredients

    • For the Cake: 
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 1/2 cup molasses
    • 3 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoon ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
    • 1/2 teaspoon clove
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • For the Brown Butter Glaze:
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
    • 1/4 – 1/3 cup milk
    • 1 – 1 1/2 cup confectionary sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a bundt pan very well, making sure to get every crevice of the pan.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, and salt. Set aside
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until combine. Add the molasses and mix until combine.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk with the butter, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Over medium heat, melt the butter and leave it there until little brown specs begin to form on the bottom of the pan, about 5-7 minutes.
  7. Once the butter is browned, remove from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until mixed together. The cream cheese might be a little clumpy at first, but the heat from the butter will melt it as a you stir, allowing the mixture to come together.
  8. Once combine, add the milk and then 1 cup confectionary sugar. If the glaze seems too runny, add up to 1/2 cup more of confectionary sugar. If it seems too thick, add more milk.
  9. Once the bundt is cooled, drizzle the glaze on top, and enjoy!

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Caramel Turtle Cake

Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday season is upon us, and with that, the baking season descends as well. My cupboards and pantry are stacked and loaded for all of the cookies, tarts, pies, and cakes that will be made in the next month. I’ve got Christmas music already blaring and my oven is preheated to 350 degrees almost all day long. The only thing not ready for the holidays is my cleaning skills! There will definitely be lots of flour spilled, cookies dropped, and messes made this season. After all, it’s only been two days in and I’ve already dropped two cupcakes and created a powdered sugar snowstorm in my pantry! Guess I’ll just have to buy some paper towels in bulk and keep the vacuum ready at all times.    

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Jokes aside, I’ve been ready for the holidays for months with a long list of recipes. I’ve been meaning to test all of them out, and what better time then the season of giving? When I sat down to decide what type of dessert I was going to make this year for everyone’s favorite food orientated holiday, I knew I wanted to pick one of the recipe ideas that was a little different. I wanted it to be a cake, but I just wasn’t sure what type, as there were several scrawled out on my list. 

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After I realized the lack of chocolate cake recipes on here, I knew that it absolutely had to be chocolate. And from there it was decided that this beauty, a caramel turtle cake, would be my Thanksgiving cake.

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A chocolate cake filled with a caramel pecan buttercream and topped with a bittersweet chocolate frosting, this cake is definitely not one you want to miss out on. The bitterness of the chocolate paired with the sweet caramel creates a perfect mix of flavors especially when combine with the pecans. In my mind, this showstopper can turn any regular meal into a feast.

 

Caramel Turtle Cake

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

    •  
    • For the Cake: 
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 1/2 cup dutch cocoa powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup fresh coffee or hot water
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • For the Frosting/Filling:
    • 1 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 1/2 cup confectionery sugar
    • 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
    • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup caramel, plus more for decoration (I used this recipe)
    • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, plus more for decoration

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 6″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing for another minute or two.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk with the butter, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Add the coffee and mix until just combine.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 45-55 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, whip the butter and powdered sugar with a stand mixer or handheld mixer until combined.  Take a 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside in a separate bowl for the caramel filling.
  8. To the remaining butter mix, add the unsweetened chocolate and the heavy cream and whip until combined.  If desired, adjust the sugar, chocolate ratio to taste.
  9. Taking the set aside 1/4 cup of frosting, mix 1/4 cup of caramel into the frosting until the mixture is homogeneous. Mix in the chopped pecans.
  10. Once the cake is cooled, spread the caramel buttercream on the first layer and then place the second layer on top.  Frost the rest of the cake with chocolate buttercream however you desire.  I drizzled caramel and some melted chocolate over mine along with some more pecans, but overall I found that it didn’t alter the taste at all.  Enjoy!

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Healthy Apple Spice Cake

Wow. I feel like I blinked and all of a sudden it’s fall. The leaves seemed to have changed overnight and the weather is suddenly chilly (most of the time). I have pulled out my winter boots as well as all my chunky knit sweaters to keep warm. I even have started drinking an extra cup of tea in the morning.

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Even though it snuck up on me, I am more than ready for fall flavors. Curling up with a warm mug of spiced goodness, crunching on toasted pumpkin seeds. And of course, all the apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, oh my. And today’s recipe has all of those things with a healthy twist.

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As you all know from this recipe and this recipe I love to sneak vegetables into my baked goods. Not only does it add flavor and moisture, but you get the benefits of another serving of vegetables. While eating cake, I might add. If that’s not a win, I don’t know what is.

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Today’s cake is perfectly fall and very addicting. Luckily, it’s the perfect petite size, so if you end up eating it all I won’t blame you. Plus it’s got zucchini as well as whole apples so it’s basically good for you.

Healthy Apple Spice Cake

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

    • For the Cake:
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
    • 2/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 1 1/2 cup shredded zucchini
    • 1 1/2 cup chopped apples
    • 1/4 cup raisins
    • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
    • For the Frosting:
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • 2 1/2 cups confectionary sugar
    • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 6″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy – about two minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing for another minute or two.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture with the butter, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Fold in the shredded zucchini, chopped apples, raisins and pecans being careful not to over mix.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the frosting, whip the butter and cream cheese with a stand mixer or handheld mixer until combined.  Add the powdered sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Once the cake is completely cooled, frost it and top with extra pecans and raisins. Enjoy!

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Spicy Chickpea and Grilled Peach Salad

As I mentioned in this post, I’ve been trying to cook more.  This has led to many nights of failed meals as I was too ambitious with my flavor combinations.  See, when I decide that I want to be good at something, I no longer just want that skill, I need that skill.  So, as many of you can probably guess, when I set out to get better at cooking I dove head first into the complex recipes.  I believed that because I could make pasta, I knew the basics.

Boy was I wrong.

One of my favorite examples of my untimely ambition happened to fall a few years ago on my mother’s birthday.  With only an hour until the meal, I decided that I was going to cook a lovely Italian dinner complete with homemade ravioli and arancini.  Now I had made homemade pasta plenty of times, it was something that I knew well.  I also knew that they took hours to prepare, and yet I still decided to try to make them in only one.  Arancini, was a bit of a different story.  I had never tried to cook something that complex.  In my mind, however, it didn’t seem that complicated and any little hiccups I would figure out along the way.

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I bet you can tell where this is going.  Ravioli on the floor, flour coating every surface possible and rice balls badly burnt on the outside and freezing cold in the middle.  Not exactly the lovely Italian meal I had imagined.

So after this failure, I reevaluated my situation and skill set and decided to take a step back.  I wasn’t giving up, per say, just deciding to work my way up to that Michelin star worthy level of cooking instead of starting there.

And with that, let’s move on to today’s dish.  A fairly simple meal, that’s healthy with semi-complex notes.  The contrast of the caramel-y notes in the grilled peaches mixed with the spice of the chickpeas sounds a little bizarre, but works like a charm.  This dish will wow guests at your next dinner party or liven up a dull week, in just 30 minutes too!

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Spicy Chickpea and Grilled Peach Salad

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 6 cups fresh green (I used a yummy mix complete with some fresh herbs)
  • 1 16 ounce can chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 2 peaches (cut into slices)
  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 avocados (sliced and cubed)
  • 1 lime (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl coat the chickpeas with the olive oil, cumin, paprika, chipotle powder and a pinch of both salt and pepper.
  3. Pour chickpeas onto a rimmed sheet pan and bake for 10-15 minutes until crispy.
  4. While the chickpeas are baking, heat a grill pan over medium heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray and then place the peach halves and the corn on the pan.  Cook each side of the peaches and corn for about 3-5 minutes until some nice char marks have formed.
  5. After allowing to cool for a couple minutes, cut the kernels off of the cob.
  6. Assemble the salad by placing all ingredients in a large bowl and then squeezing 1/2 a lime on top or topping with your favorite dressing.  Enjoy!

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Cake

I’m just going to come out and say it– I’m not a huge pretzel fan. Shocking, I know. My family doesn’t understand me, they all love the crunchy snack with a passion. So much so that on any given day our pantry is stashed with a big old jar full of them. When my brother is home, he plows through this jar at a regular pace, so restocking it is not just guesswork, but a science.

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Now that he’s gone, however, this jar remains mostly untouched causing the pretzels inside to go stale before they are consumed.

Tragic, I know.

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So today when I was baking this week’s blog post and a sudden pretzel craving hit, I was met with a mouthful of stale pretzels and some unhappy tastebuds.

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Instead of tossing the pretzels in the trash I crushed them up and threw them in the nearby cake batter, hoping that that might save them.

And save them it did. I dare say this is the best cake that I have ever baked. Something about the salty of the pretzel matched with the sweet of the cake creates the perfect balance of delicious flavor. Slathered with chocolate buttercream and filled with caramel one, this is definitely a cake I’m going to file away into my baking repertoire. Trust me, you’re not going to want to miss out on this one.

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Salted Caramel Chocolate Pretzel Cake

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

    • For the Cake:
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 2/3 cup crushed pretzels (I crushed mine in a food processor)
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup unsalted butter softened
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup milk
    • For the Caramel Filling:
    • 2 tablespoons salted butter
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • For the Frosting:
    • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
    • 1 cup confectionery sugar
    • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate melted
    • 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 6″ cake pans with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, crushed pretzels, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy – about two minutes.  Add the eggs and vanilla extract, mixing for another minute or two.
  4. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture with the butter, starting and ending with the flour.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the pan before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. While the cakes are baking, make the caramel filling.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix together all the ingredients.  Allow to come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for 5-10 minutes or until you can no longer feel the grains of sugar when rubbed between your fingers.  Set aside to allow to cool completely before using (otherwise it will melt the buttercream).
  7. To make the frosting, whip the butter and powdered sugar with a stand mixer or handheld mixer until combined.  Take a 1/4 cup of the mixture and set aside in a separate bowl for the caramel filling.
  8. To the remaining butter mix, add the unsweetened chocolate and the heavy cream and whip until combined.  If desired, adjust the sugar, chocolate ratio to taste.
  9. Taking the set aside 1/4 cup of frosting, mix two tablespoons of the cooled caramel into the frosting until the mixture is homogeneous.
  10. Once the cake is cooled, spread the caramel buttercream on the first layer and then place the second layer on top.  Frost the rest of the cake with chocolate buttercream however you desire.  I garnished mine with some more pretzel crumbs as well as a little bit of melted chocolate, but overall I found that it didn’t alter the taste at all.  Enjoy!

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