Black Forest Cake

This deliciously moist Black Forest Cake is a cut above the rest with homemade whipped cream, rich chocolate ganache, and sweet spiked cherries.

Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand

This post is sponsored by KitchenAid.

Today’s blog post is one of the most special you’ll ever read here on SBA. I am both honored and excited to partner with KitchenAid for its 100 Year Celebration. This once-in-a-century celebration commemorates 100 years of KitchenAid inspiring culinary passion and creating new possibilities in the kitchen. The same core value launching KitchenAid back in 1919 is continuously instilled in the products created today: an inspiration by those who love to make…and I am certainly one of those people.

Limited Edition KitchenAid Stand Mixer in Misty Blue with chocolate cake batter

slice of black forest cake on a white plate, the rest of the cake on a wood slice cake stand, and a blue stand mixer

What is Black Forest Cake?

This is my rendition of the traditional German black forest cake aka Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte. Today’s towering beauty has 4 parts:

  1. My go-to chocolate layer cake
  2. Dark sweet cherries
  3. Fluffy vanilla whipped cream
  4. Dark chocolate ganache

black forest cake batter in a glass bowl

2 images of pouring chocolate cake batter into cake pans and brushing cherry soaking syrup onto cake layers

2 images of cherries in a glass bowl and adding cherries to black forest cake

Chocolate Cake

The cake recipe comes from this tuxedo cake, which was adapted from my favorite chocolate cake. It has a cake crumb so moist and chocolate-y, it sticks to your fork and melts on your tongue. Curious about the ingredients used? Hop on over to that recipe for detail. One thing I’ll mention because it’s worth repeating: hot liquid is a must in this cake batter. Why? The hot liquid encourages the cocoa powder to bloom and dissolve instead of just sitting there. For the hot liquid, I recommend coffee which will deepen the chocolate flavor. The cake will not taste like coffee, I promise! Or you can use hot water.

Cherries & Whipped Cream

Grab a couple cans of dark sweet cherries that are soaked in heavy syrup (the can is sold as such). Reduce the syrup down on the stove as the cakes bake. Have any cherry liquor around? Add a splash and brush the mixture all over the cakes while they’re still warm. This cherry soaking syrup guarantees the moistest, most flavorful chocolate cake you will EVER taste. Think of the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten. This one’s better and we have the cherry- soaking syrup to thank.

Those cherries from the can? They’ll be layered right into the cake, seeping their magenta juices into the vanilla whipped cream. Swirled pink, the whipped cream is light, billowy, and doesn’t weigh down the cake. While this black forest cake is certainly decadent, it’s not overly heavy. A breath of fresh air considering most chocolate cakes are dense as bricks!

Most of vanilla whipped cream is layered inside the cake, but be sure to reserve some to lightly spread on top and around the cake. This seals in the cake’s moisture. Have I mentioned this cake is moist?

Homemade Whipped Cream in a glass stand mixer bowl

How to Make Chocolate Ganache

Black forest cake is traditionally finished with chocolate shavings, but I took it a step further and opted for chocolate ganache. The crowning glory is a layer of dazzling chocolate ganache that gently drapes over the sides for mega drama. (Because when it comes to chocolate cake, there’s gotta be drama!) Made from heavy cream and pure chocolate, there’s no garnish more appropriate for this cake masterpiece.

I’m so excited for you to try this black forest cake, a recipe that came to life from the one who inspired me to get in the kitchen.

Sally decorating a black forest cake with flowers

Super-moist chocolate cake, whipped cream, and dark sweet cherries are Black Forest Cake! Homemade chocolate cake on

Slice of black forest cake on a plate

Now let’s talk about the gorgeous stand mixer you see in all these photos! The 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer comes in a custom and classic color, Misty Blue– a soft blue with a hint of green that is reminiscent of one of the first KitchenAid stand mixer colors ever introduced. It displays a heritage-inspired KitchenAid® logo, a white-coated stainless steel bowl and a custom Power Hub cover celebrating 100 years of KitchenAid. 10 speeds, tilt head, 5 quart, a testament to the past 100 years!

While it may be KitchenAid brand’s 100 year anniversary, it’s a celebration for all of us. I invite you to post a photo on Instagram of your favorite memory of making in the kitchen and tag it with #MakingHistory100 and #SweepstakesUS for the chance to win a KitchenAid® 100 Year Limited Edition Stand Mixer. No Purchase Necessary. US/DC 18+. Ends 11/24/18 11:59 PM ET. Click here for sweepstakes rules.

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Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand

Black Forest Cake

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American


This deliciously moist Black Forest Cake is a cut above the rest with homemade whipped cream, rich chocolate ganache, and sweet spiked cherries.


Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 3/4 cup (65g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder*
  • 1 and 3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder (optional)*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (180g) full fat sour cream, at room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) hot water or coffee*
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup*
  • 2 Tablespoons cherry liquor (sold as kirsch or kirschwasser)*

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • two 4-ounce semi-sweet chocolate bars (226g), finely chopped
  • optional: 1 Tablespoon light corn syrup*

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups (480ml) cold heavy cream or heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease three 9-inch cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Parchment paper helps the cakes seamlessly release from the pans.
  2. Make the chocolate cake: Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder (if using) together in a large bowl. Set aside. Using a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a flat beater, beat the oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla together until combined. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the hot water or coffee, and beat it all until the batter is completely combined.
  3. Divide batter evenly between 3 pans. Bake for 21-25 minutes. Baking times vary, so keep an eye on yours. The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and set on a wire rack. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in the pans, then remove cakes from pans and set on a cooling rack. Be careful and use two hands when handling the cakes.
  4. After the cakes have cooled, use a large serrated knife or cake leveler to slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!).
  5. Prepare the syrup: Drain the cherries, reserving 3/4 cup (180ml) of the heavy syrup. Set cherries aside. Simmer syrup and cherry liquor in a small saucepan over low heat until reduced down to 1/4 cup (60ml). Brush reduced syrup all over the cakes, reserving any leftover syrup.
  6. Slice the cherries in half, leaving a few whole cherries for garnish. Set aside.
  7. Make the ganache: Place chopped chocolate and corn syrup, if using, in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes as you prepare the whipped cream.
  8. Make the whipped cream: Using a KitchenAid stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes.
  9. Assemble the cake: Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand, cake turntable, or serving plate. Spread 1 heaping cup of whipped cream evenly on top. Dot with half of the halved cherries and drizzle with a spoonful of reduced syrup. Top with 2nd cake layer and evenly cover the top with 1 heaping cup whipped cream, the remaining halved cherries, and another drizzle of reduced syrup. Top with the 3rd cake layer. Spread the remaining whipped cream on top and all around the sides in a thin layer using an icing spatula. Use a bench scraper to smooth out the whipped cream on the sides of the cake.
  10. Pour chocolate ganache on top of the cake. Spread to the edges of cake allowing it to gently drip down the sides. Top with whole cherries. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
  11. Cover and store leftover cake at room temperature for 1-2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.


  1. Make Ahead Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. For the cherry syrup, cool then cover and refrigerate overnight. The whipped cream can be prepared, covered tightly, and refrigerated overnight. Chocolate ganache can be prepared, covered tightly, and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using. Let ganache sit at room temperature to soften or microwave for 5-10 seconds before using. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before slicing and serving. The frosted cake can also be frozen up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
  2. Why Room Temperature Ingredients? All refrigerated items should be at room temperature so the batter mixes together easily and evenly. Read here for more information. Instead of sour cream, try using plain yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitution.
  3. Cocoa Powder: Use natural cocoa in the cake, not dutch-process. Here’s the difference between natural cocoa powder and dutch-process cocoa powder.
  4. Espresso Powder: Espresso powder and coffee will not make the chocolate taste like coffee. Rather, they deepen the chocolate flavor. I highly recommend them both. If coffee isn’t your thing, you can leave out the espresso powder and use boiling hot water instead of the hot coffee.
  5. Buttermilk: Buttermilk is required for this recipe. You can make your own DIY version of buttermilk if needed. Add 1 teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a liquid measuring cup. Then add enough whole milk to the same measuring cup until it reaches 1/2 cup. (In a pinch, lower fat or nondairy milks work for this soured milk, but the cake won’t taste as moist or rich.) Stir it around and let sit for 5 minutes. The homemade “buttermilk” will be somewhat curdled and ready to use in the recipe.
  6. Cherries: Canned dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup (they are sold as such) are imperative to the recipe. The syrup will be reduced down. Do not use fresh dark sweet cherries, sour cherries, or maraschino cherries.
  7. Cherry Liquor: The cherry liquor is optional, but really gives the soaking syrup (step 4) that over-the-top delicious flavor setting this black forest cake apart from others. You can also add a splash to the whipped cream!
  8. Corn Syrup: I like to add a touch of light corn syrup to the ganache to give it some glistening shine. This is an optional ingredient.

Black Forest Cake on a wood slice cake stand with a KitchenAid stand mixer in the background

Slice of black forest cake on a plate


  1. Hello lovely Sally…totally love your recipes!

    I am wanting to make 2 8 inches cakes for 2 friends and was wondering if the batter in the recipe as stated should be enough for that I.e 4 8 inches…or would they turn out thin?

    1. Hi! Dividing this batter between 4 8-inch cake pans would give you pretty thin cakes. 3 8-inch cakes would be more ideal. I recommend 1.5x the recipe to be certain you have plenty for nice sized cakes.

  2. Hi! Thank you so much for this recipe. I made this one in jars and my family loved it!

    Question though, is it normal for the cream to have some bubbles after a few hours in room temp? It still tasted pretty much the same so I don’t think the cream has curddled.

  3. Hi Sally,
    Made this today and all turned out well and yummy except for the ganache that seems to leave a oily sheen. There seems to be a layer of oil swirled in to the chocolate. Do you know the cause of this? Thanks!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Audrey, What type of chocolate did you use for your ganache? We recommend using pure chocolate baking bars such as Bakers or Ghirardelli brands. For our best tips and tricks for making ganache you can visit the post How to Make Chocolate Ganache. I hope it helps!

      1. I used Ghirardelli baking chocolate bars. Could it be that I did not wait enough after pouring the cream to the chocolate?

  4. Hi Sally! I can’t find the type of cherries this recipe calls for anywhere. Wondering what you think is the best alternative– cherry pie filling, Bada Bing cherries from Stonewall Kitchen, or making a cherry syrup myself (using frozen dark cherries & sugar)? I’m making this for my dad’s birthday and want to choose the alternative that will make the cake taste the best! Thanks so much 🙂

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Anna, The Bada Bing cherries should work well here. Happy baking!

  5. Hello,

    Thanks for your tried and true recipes! I’m hoping to make this cake for an upcoming family anniversary dinner that we will be dropping off due to the Pandemic.

    Since we won’t be celebrating together, I want to make this cake but in a smaller form so as not to overwhelm the couple with one huge cake (they’re diet conscious).

    Can you provide any measurements/suggestions to make these in a small size, maybe a 6” cake or smaller 3” rounds personal size?

    Thanks for your time!!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Tanya, For the cake you can use the recipe for Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes and follow the baking directions in the post 6 Inch Cakes. You can cut the amount of cherries, whipped cream and ganache in half for this size cake. Happy baking!

    2. I just made a 6″ version of this cake. I just cut the whole recipe in half. There was still way too much ganache, but I saved it for another use. The cake is the most beautiful cake I’ve ever made! I used cognac instead of kirsch because I didn’t want to go out to buy a bottle of liquor only to use a tablespoon. I also soaked the drained cherries in a little cognac while I baked the cake.

      1. That’s great to hear! I will give that a try then to split the measurements in half. Can I ask what brand and type of cherry you had used? Thanks for your help!

      2. May I know can I make cherry syrup at home. How to prepare it?

  6. Hi Sally,
    By 2 (15ounce) cans of cherry, do you mean 15 ounce in total or each can is 15 ounce?


    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Emma, Each can is 15oz so 30oz total. Enjoy!

  7. Just made this. Turned out good. I felt the 2 chocolate bar ganache was too much if it just needs to drip down the sides but it covered the whole cake.

  8. This chocolate cake recipe is unparalleled. Made it for my wife’s birthday yesterday and it was a massive hit. Made a couple changes-

    1: I stabilized the whipped cream with gelatin. I wanted to keep it level for decorative reasons and was concerned that the whipped cream wouldn’t provide enough structure, even with the cherries.

    2: I used a mirror glaze instead of the ganache to up the drama even further, which turned out gorgeous.

    If I were to make it again I would incorporate a substantial amount more kirsch. The chocolate flavor was so rich and lovey I lost the cherry brandy flavor that I want from a Black Forest cake. Think it would be pretty easy to boost that flavor by boozing up the whipped cream with a few tablespoons of kirsch.

    Aside from that, this recipe is wonderful. Sally: thank you for the clarity and thoroughness of your instructions. I use your blog regularly and wind up impressing much more experienced bakers than myself. Thanks for making me look good!!!

    1. Hi Garry,

      I was thinking of making this with a mirror glaze as well! Did you just pour over the whipped cream? I’m worried it won’t be smooth enough. Thanks!!

  9. Hi Sally, first of all thanks a ton for all the fail-proof & amazingly delicious recipes you share.

    If I want to make 3 layers of 6inch cakes do I cut the recipe in half?

    Do you have a tutorial for how to adjust your recipes for different pan sizes?

    Thank you

    1. Hi DK, you’ll find my 6 inch cakes post helpful. For the cake you can use the recipe for Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes and follow the baking directions in the post 6 Inch Cakes. You can cut the amount of cherries, whipped cream and ganache in half for this size cake. Happy baking!

  10. Yasmine Shelton says:

    So delicious!

  11. Hi Sally! I’ve been making your recipes for years, and they have never failed me, so thank you for all of your amazing recipes! I have a couple of questions for this cake:
    1. Can we use 8-inch round cake pans or 9-inch pie plates if we don’t have 9-inch cake pans?
    2. Should the reduced syrup be brushed onto the cakes while they are still warm before leveling them off or should it be brushed onto the cakes after they have been leveled off once cooled? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alyssa, thank you so much! You can use 8 inch cake pans for this cake. The layers will be slightly thicker and require a slightly longer bake time (not much though). I recommend cooling the cake layers, leveling off, then brushing with syrup.

      1. Hi Sally.. Is there any substitute for sour cream.
        Your cakes are amazing..

      2. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

        Hi Pooja, Instead of sour cream, you can use plain yogurt. The cake won’t taste as rich, but it’s a fine substitution. Happy baking!

  12. Best Black Forest ever. I’ve always done the chocolate shavings but the ganache is even better.

  13. Hi Sally ,
    Could you suggest something as a substitute for cherry liquor as it is difficult to get that here in India .
    Would love to make this recipe for Christmas .
    Thank you

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Surya, The cherry liquor is optional so you can leave it out if needed!

  14. Hi Sally,
    This looks delicious and can’t wait to try it, but I can’t fit 3 cake pans in my oven. Is it best to divide the mixture into 2 x 9 inch pans and have 2 thicker cakes or bake 2 pans and then bake the 3rd after.
    Thank you!

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Eleanor, You can bake the first two cake layers and keep the unused batter lightly covered at room temperature until it’s ready to go in the oven. Happy baking!

  15. Hello Sally,
    I’m wondering how long I should bake the cake for if I’m using tin pans 0.75 in height?

    Also, is this cake as moist as your Triple Chocolate Cake? That one is everyone’s favourite!

    Thanks and Happy Holidays!

    Lyle Marie

    1. Hi Lyle Marie, it depends on the diameter of your cake pan. How big is it? I recommend 9 inch pans. This cake batter is the same as the sour cream version of the triple chocolate cake. So yes, just as moist and tender!

  16. Marison Baldovino-Yumang says:

    Sally my daughter followed your recipe after we failed on a traditional recipe first we followed. But your instructions and recipe was easier for us to follow with great success! It was finished in minutes no second day to share.

  17. This cake was fabulous – best chocolate cake ever! After going to 10 stores to find canned dark sweet cherries, we were underwhelmed with their taste. They tasted washed out and not much like a cherry at all. I opted to use frozen cherries (mix of dark sweet and tart) heated with a little sugar and Kirsh. I used this syrup to moisten the cake layers and drizzle over the cherries. I also used chocolate shavings rather than ganache. My family took a vote and this cake will be our Christmas dessert going forward. Next year I’ll try the ganache.

  18. Curious Charlie says:

    I made this and it was a winner! Requested for a party, I halved the recipe and made 1 tall cake in a 4″ tin (both wide and in height, I made a collar cause it rose 1cm over the tin height), to make two cakes.

    Sliced up to make 2 x 4″ tall + wide (cylinder) cakes, painted with reduced syrup, layer with halved tinned cherries and cream, repeat. Decorated with flake and more cream/cherries, as my ganche split and died.

    Pictures will be posted on my insta, with Sally tagged if anyone wants to see 🙂 Thanks Sally for a great recipe, we’ve been following you for years and only made your cookies (someone I see takes payment in cookies) but this is your first cake recipe I tried.

  19. Love everything except the amount of ganache is WAY too much! It’s running way over the sides. I’m sure it will taste great though!

  20. Pallavi Gupta says:

    Hi Sally,

    Can I make this cake in a 6 inch pan and divide the batter in 4 layers or 3 thick layers.

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Pallavi, For the cake you can use the recipe for Super Moist Chocolate Cupcakes and follow the baking directions in the post 6 Inch Cakes. You can cut the amount of cherries, whipped cream and ganache in half for this size cake. Happy baking!

  21. Hello Sally!
    I have two birthdays coming up and I would love to use this recipe to make two smaller layer cakes. If I split the batter up and put it into smaller tins, do you have any suggestions for how to adjust baking time or temperature?

    Really excited to try this one out! Happy new year!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Amy, You can use our handy Cake Pan Sizes & Conversions post to help calculate how much batter you would need for different size pans. Baking temperature would be the same, and bake time a little less for smaller pans — keep a close eye on it and use a toothpick to test for doneness. Happy baking!

  22. Hi Sally,

    Could I substitute the sour cream/yoghurt for cream cheese?

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      We don’t suggest that substitution, Olivia. Happy baking!

  23. This was absolutely delicious! I had never had or made a Black Forest Cake before but I will definitely be making it again. I found that it was much better the next day after it had been in the fridge for about 24 hours.

    I couldn’t find Kirsch or cherry brandy anywhere so I used cherry vodka I already had on hand and it tasted great. The chocolate ganache also made a TON. I poured too much to begin with and it ended up running down the sides and all over my cake plate. Next time I would even make about half that amount to get the top with drips look in the pictures.

  24. Hi there, are the quantities for the baking powder and soda accidentally switched in the recipe? should there be more powder and less soda?

    Also, i cannot get three cakes.

    1. Trina @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Heidi, the baking powder and soda quantities are correct. The cake layers will be on the thinner side. Are you using the correct sized pans? You could always 1.5x the recipe for larger cakes. Happy baking!

      1. Hi,
        So – made the recipe twice (each time one portion) and cannot get enough to fill three pans. i get two pans filled about 1/3. yes, i have 9×2 inch pans. Also both times the center falls. did not open oven early. put cake in the oven very soon after mixing. similar recipes online have less baking soda and more powder. they also suggest higher volume of ingredients and 3x 9in pans…. will try. the cake tasted amazing, just didn’t look good. i’ve found with many recipes on this blog that the portions are very skewed. it’s unfortunate because often taste is good but the proportions are off

  25. The best black forest cake i’ve ever made.❤❤
    Hubby ask’s me to make it all the time.

  26. Hi Sally!

    I LOVE your recipes. My partner has requested a black forest cake for his birthday as it is his favourite so I’m going to give it a shot. I don’t have a KitchenAid at home, only a handheld beater. Do you suggest using the beaters on low so as to just mix the ingredients or should it be higher to try and get some air in?

    Thanks in advance for your help!

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lisa, you can use your hand mixer to mix on a low-medium speed until the ingredients are combined. Be careful not to over mix, which could lead to a dense cake. Happy baking!

  27. Hello! Recipe looks amazing! Could you use luxardo cherries for this recipe or will they be too sweet?

  28. Hi Sally!
    Cherries are in season where I live, so I want to use fresh ones. Will they go bad?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Lina, unfortunately, we don’t recommend fresh cherries for this recipe. Canned dark sweet cherries in heavy syrup (they are sold as such) are imperative to the recipe. However, here are all our other recipes that use cherries — hope you find some to enjoy!

  29. Love your recipes. With this, am not a fan of cream. Can I substitute this with mousse from your other chocolate mousse cake recipe instead?

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Sure can! Would love to hear how it turns out for you, Raewyn.

      1. Turned out like a dream. Many compliments. Thanks so much for sharing your delightful recipes.

  30. Hi Sally!

    If I am making the cake the night before, should I brush the cherry syrup and then cover the layers overnight? Or do I just brush the syrup the next day before assembling it? Thanks!

    Also, I LOVE your blog!! I have done your German Chocolate Cake, Carrot Cake, No-Bake Cheesecake, Red Velvet Cake, Pumpkin Roll, and Chocolate Chip Cookies. They come out perfect every time! Thank you!! xoxo

    1. Lexi @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Ana, we’d recommend brushing the syrup on the next day when assembling the cake. Thank you for the positive feedback on our recipes — we’re thrilled you enjoy them!

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