Classic Cheesecake Recipe

Look no further for a creamy and ultra smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence. For the best results, bake in a water bath.

Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Not Plain Cheesecake

As much as I love cheesecake, I’ve never published a classic cheesecake recipe. There’s always been peanut butter, sprinkles, blueberry swirls, Snickers cheesecake, pumpkin, lemon, red velvet, or Nutella. That’s a lot of cheesecake recipes without a single nod to where it all originates: classic cheesecake.

To me, classic cheesecake is creamy, silky, and smooth. My cheesecake recipe is not quite as dense as New York cheesecake, but boasts equal richness and is just as special. It’s thick, it’s velvety, and there’s no denying its decadence. When I imagine what Chandler and Rachel’s stolen cheesecake tastes like, it’s this!

While there’s a glaring absence of chunks, swirls, and sprinkles in this ivory crowned jewel, there’s nothing plain about her.

Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Preparing my cheesecake recipe is rather simple– it’s baking the cheesecake that could result in a flop. Many factors are at play like the springform pan leaking, the surface of the cheesecake cracking, under-baking, over-baking, etc. I have plenty of tricks that will help guarantee classic cheesecake perfection, including determining when the cheesecake is done and everything you need to know about a cheesecake water bath.

How to make the best cheesecake with blocks of real cream cheese on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Make Classic Cheesecake

You only need a few basic staple ingredients for this cheesecake recipe.

  1. Block cream cheese: Four 8-ounce blocks of full-fat cream cheese are the base of this cheesecake. That’s 2 pounds. Make sure you’re buying the blocks of cream cheese and not cream cheese spread. There’s no diets allowed in cheesecake, so don’t pick up the reduced fat variety!
  2. Sugar: 1 cup. Not that much considering how many mouths you can feed with this dessert. Over-sweetened cheesecake is hardly cheesecake anymore. Using only 1 cup of sugar gives this cheesecake the opportunity to balance tangy and sweet, just as classic cheesecake should taste.
  3. Sour cream: 1 cup. I recently tested a cheesecake recipe with 1 cup of heavy cream instead, but ended up sticking with my original (which can be found here with blueberry swirls!). I was curious about the heavy cream addition and figured it would yield a softer cheesecake bite. The cheesecake was soft, but lacked the stability and richness I wanted. It was almost too creamy. Sour cream is most definitely the right choice.
  4. A little flavor: 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and 2 of lemon juice. The lemon juice brightens up the cheesecake’s overall flavor and vanilla is always a good idea.
  5. Eggs: 3 eggs are the final ingredient. You’ll beat the eggs in last, one at a time, until they are *just* incorporated. Do not overmix the batter once the eggs are added. This will whip air into the cheesecake batter, resulting in cheesecake cracking and deflating.

And as always, make sure all of the cheesecake batter ingredients are at room temperature so the batter remains smooth, even, and combines quickly. Beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky over-beaten cheesecake batter, hardly the way we want to start!

How to Make a Graham Cracker Crust

Since classic is the keyword of the day, we’re sticking with cheesecake’s main squeeze: a graham cracker crust. I reduced the butter and granulated sugar from my original graham cracker crust recipe by 1 Tablespoon each. I find this crust remains a little more crunchy. Make sure you pack the crust in very tight and pre-bake it to help prevent any sogginess.

I like to use the bottom of a small measuring cup to pack the crust tightly into the springform pan. Speaking of, you’ll need a 9 or 10-inch springform pan. A springform pan has removable sides so you can safely release the cheesecake without having to flip the pan over or struggle to cut the cheesecake inside the pan. Springform pans can leak if you’re baking the cheesecake in a water bath (more on that below!), but this particular pan is reliable. I haven’t had any leaking issues.

This is the best cheesecake recipe! Recipe and video on sallysbakingaddiction.comHow to prepare a water bath for cheesecake on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Make a Cheesecake Water Bath

I promise a water bath is nothing complicated. All you’re doing is placing the springform pan in a roasting pan, filling it with hot water, and baking. What’s the point, you ask? I actually wrote an entire post about a cheesecake water bath years ago. I figured it’s time for an update and a video tutorial, so here goes nothing!

Cheesecake loves a humid environment. The steam from the hot water will lift the cheesecake up slowly and evenly, reducing the risk of cracks on the surface. Additionally, this slow and even baking method helps prevent the cheesecake from sinking back down as it cools. Taking a few extra minutes to prepare a water bath for this cheesecake recipe is well worth it. I can’t say enough how valuable it is!

Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Cooling & Chilling Cheesecake

Another way to help prevent cheesecake cracks is to initially cool it inside the oven. You can see me do this in the video above. When the cheesecake is done, turn the oven off, crack open the oven door, and leave the cheesecake inside for 1 hour. A drastic and sudden change of temperature isn’t ideal for cheesecake– from hot oven to cool counter– so do your best to control the environment by leaving the cheesecake inside. Does this make sense?

After the cheesecake cools in the oven for 1 hour, place it on the counter to cool. After it’s cool, chill it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or even overnight. There’s no greater test to your willpower than those several hours you’re forced to wait as the cheesecake cools down and then chills in the refrigerator. But every minute is completely worth it when you take that first luscious bite.

Want to skip the baking and cooling process? Try my no-bake cheesecake instead.

Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

4 Tips for Perfect Cheesecake

To summarize, here are some tricks I discussed:

  1. Do not over-mix the cheesecake batter
  2. Bake in a water bath
  3. Leave cheesecake in the cooling oven for 1 hour
  4. Cool completely at room temperature

Cheesecake Toppings

Enjoy your velvet-rich cheesecake as is or get a little fancy with a selection of toppings. I love cheesecake best with fruit, so I made a simple raspberry sauce. You can also top with homemade lemon curd, chocolate ganache, salted caramel, strawberry topping, or homemade whipped cream. Get creative or keep it simple. Either way, it’s going to impress. (And you’d totally eat it off the floor… Chandler and Rachel style.)

Homemade raspberry dessert sauce recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

How to Freeze Cheesecake

  1. Cool the cheesecake on the counter before freezing. No need to chill it in the refrigerator
  2. Freeze on springform pan: Remove the outer rim from the springform pan. Wrap the cheesecake with the bottom of the pan with a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  3. Freeze without springform pan: After the cheesecake has completely cooled, run a sharp knife underneath the crust to release it from the bottom of the pan. Carefully slide it onto a parchment paper lined piece of cardboard or use a plate. Wrap it all in a few layers of plastic wrap, then a final layer of aluminum foil.
  4. Freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
  5. Do not freeze cheesecake with any toppings. Add toppings when serving cheesecake.
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Look no further for a creamy and smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Classic Cheesecake Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 7 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: serves at least 12
  • Category: Cake
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Look no further for a creamy and ultra smooth classic cheesecake recipe! Paired with a buttery graham cracker crust, no one can deny its simple decadence. For the best results, bake in a water bath.


Ingredients

Graham Cracker Crust

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (150g) graham cracker crumbs (about 10 full sheet graham crackers)
  • 5 Tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

Cheesecake


Instructions

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Make the crust: Using a food processor, pulse the graham crackers into crumbs. Pour into a medium bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter until combined. (You can also pulse it all together in the food processor.) Mixture will be sandy. Press firmly into the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. No need to grease the pan first. I use the bottom of a measuring cup to pack the crust down tightly. Pre-bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the hot pan on a large piece of aluminum foil. The foil will wrap around the pan for the water bath in step 4. Allow crust to slightly cool as you prepare the filling.
  3. Make the filling: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed in a large bowl until the mixture is smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the sour cream, vanilla extract, and lemon juice then beat until fully combined. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition until just blended. After the final egg is incorporated into the batter, stop mixing. To help prevent the cheesecake from deflating and cracking as it cools, avoid over-mixing the batter as best you can.
  4. Prepare the simple water bath (see note): Watch my video tutorial above; the visual guide will assist you in this step! Boil a pot of water. You need 1 inch of water in your roasting pan for the water bath, so make sure you boil enough. I use an entire kettle of hot water. As the water is heating up, wrap the aluminum foil around the springform pan. Pour the cheesecake batter on top of the crust. Use a rubber spatula or spoon to smooth it into an even layer. Place the pan inside of a large roasting pan. Carefully pour the hot water inside of the pan and place in the oven. (Or you can place the roasting pan in the oven first, then pour the hot water in. Whichever is easier for you.)
  5. (Note: if you notice the cheesecake browning too quickly on top, tent it with aluminum foil halfway through baking.) Bake cheesecake for 55-70 minutes or until the center is almost set. When it’s done, the center of the cheesecake will slightly wobble if you gently shake the pan. Turn the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Let the cheesecake sit in the oven in the water bath as it cools down for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and water bath, then cool cheesecake completely at room temperature. Then refrigerate the cheesecake for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  6. Use a knife to loosen the chilled cheesecake from the rim of the springform pan, then remove the rim. Using a clean sharp knife, cut into slices for serving. For neat slices, wipe the knife clean and dip into warm water between each slice.
  7. Serve cheesecake with desired toppings. Cover and store leftover cheesecake in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Notes

  1. Make Ahead Instructions: This cheesecake can be made the day before. It has to chill for quite some time before serving. See step 5. Another way to make this cheesecake ahead of time is to freeze it. Cheesecake can be frozen up to 3 months. See instructions in blog post above.
  2. Fresh Raspberry Sauce: Combine 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (do not thaw if using frozen), 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture as it begins to cook, breaking up some of the raspberries as you stir. Once simmering, continue to stir and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and press through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Allow the thin raspberry sauce to cool completely before using. Store for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  3. Water Bath: Some readers have baked cheesecakes with a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. In this manner, the cheesecake does not bake directly in a roasting pan of water. This is a wonderful alternative if you do not own a large roasting pan or are nervous about your springform pan leaking. Simply place a large baking pan filled with 1 inch of hot water on the bottom rack of the oven.
  4. Room Temperature Ingredients: Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature before beginning. Room temperature ingredients combine quickly and evenly, so you won’t risk over-mixing. Also, beating cold ingredients together will result in a chunky cheesecake batter, hardly the way you want to begin!
  5. Non-US Readers: With the help of other non-US readers who do not have access to graham crackers, here is a basic crust recipe you can follow for a 9-inch springform pan. 250g digestive biscuits + 100g butter + no sugar. Grind the digestive biscuits into crumbs, melt the butter, and mix with the crumbs. Press into pan and pre-bake as directed in step 2. And from what I understand, spreadable cream cheese sold in a tub in countries outside of the US is a little different from the spreadable cream cheese in the US. It’s thicker, sturdier, and more solid and should be OK to make cheesecake. I have no experience with it, but this is what I’ve heard from other non-US readers.

579 Comments

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  1. I made your recipe over the weekend, it was dessert for our anniversary. This is one is the best cheesecakes I have ever had, and I and some what of cheesecake snob. I’ve only made cheesecake a handful of times, due to the fact that I have not found one that was really good. My family paid me the highest of compliments that this was even better than the cheesecake that a cherished family member makes, and they’ve been baking them for years! The crust was a perfect offset to your filling amount, which can sometimes not work out well together. The filling was light, creamy and a light citrus tang to it, it was perfectly decadent, without being too heavy. It complimented the strawberry topping I made, to accompany this beautiful cake! We won’t have to worry about it being refrigerated for long, my family is chomping at the bits for their next slice!

  2. Rachel Teoh says:

    This is a great recipe! Thank you so much for the detailed tips & notes with clear instructions. I was nervous on the making my first cake in bathing method. I followed the double foil wrapped and indeed is necessary and everything went well. The tips of not to over beat the eggs and temperature estimates and tips on how to determine the cake supposed to be done, it was good! Everything went well! I had a perfect baked cake without crack! The digestive biscuits tips was good as well, because we can’t get graham crackers here in Asia. Thank you so much for such a great recipe! And I love the raspberries sauce. I served it with blueberries & cherries drizzle over the raspberries sauce! Just perfect! or even by itself taste delicious as well! My hubby love it in original taste by itself and my kids loved it with the sauce and toppings. My mom couldn’t help herself with more servings! ..lols! Forget about the calories!

  3. Hi Sally!

    Is it possible to use plain yogurt instead of Sour cream for this recipe?

    1. Hi Asha,

      I used greek yogurt and it still came out great!

  4. Helen Marston says:

    Hi Sally, I made my very first Cheese Cake yesterday and all my family members loved it! Thank you so much for your recipe and video. All your tips are very helpful. I didn’t have large roast pan like yours so I put my biggest pan with hot water at the lowest level in oven, right underneath the cake pan. It worked! Cheese cake is my most favorite desert. I will definitely make more and enjoy the cakes myself as well! Thank you again!!!

  5. Alma Evangelista says:

    Thank you so much. Its my first time to bake cheese cake and made it perfectly. Thank you for the recipe and the tips…

  6. Ashley Shabez says:

    I did not even make this yet but am giving it 5 stars and will plan on making it for Father’s Day. For some reason I actually read your comments on why you chose each ingredient instead of skipping straight to Jump to Recipe as I always do…I love the reasons as to why you shouldn’t overbake, why you should have room temp. ingredients and I really appreciate that!

    1. Its funny your right I was looking to make this for Father’s day and I didn’t even jump to the recipe I read and it seems so good I am getting everything now. Only thing I don’t have a mixer hopefully I am able to stir it really well.

  7. Hi Sally, I try a some of your recipe, it was great…!!!
    And now i want to try this classic cheesecake recipe, but i’m a bit curious, is it possible to add chocolate ganache or powder to the filling? i know it wont be classic anymore, but my family like chocolates very much, that’s why i want to make this classic cheesecake become chocolate cheesecake…
    Thank you….

    1. Hi Felix! You could definitely test this recipe by adding melted (and cooled) pure baking chocolate or cocoa powder. I don’t have a recipe for chocolate cheesecake at this time. I don’t recommend folding in chocolate ganache.

      1. Okay…!!! thanks for your respond.. i will test with your recommendation… Thank you again…

  8. Worked perfectly – very delicious!

  9. My wife had been bugging me for a while to make a cheesecake for our family (she bought me a spring form pan *hint hint*). I’ve been using your cake recipes for a couple of years now, and figured I’d give it a shot. It wasn’t good-IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST CHEESECAKES I’VE EVER HAD! My wife “convinced” me to make another one a week later, and I’ll be adding oreo’s to the recipe and making a third one this week. Thank you for your detailed recipes!

    1. Hello Sally,

      I’ve made this cheesecake several times over the past year. I must say it is delish. My son does not like cream cheese and he’s lactose intolerant and he sacrifices for a slice. I loved how detailed the instructions are. Thank you. I’m so over the instant cheesecake as this gives me the rich, creamy flavor that I love. Awesome.

  10. Hey Sally.

    I made this cheesecake twice. I used a water bath the first time and the crust came out soggy so I thought the water had leaked through or something. The second time, I used the trick where you put a pan of water underneath the cake in the oven but the crust still came out soggy and not crisp at all. What happened? How do I make it so that the crust is nice and crisp?

    1. Hi Sam, Are you pre-baking the crust for 8 minutes before adding the filling? You can try baking it for a few minutes longer for a crisper crust.

      1. Yes I did. I think that it might be the filling that’s making it soggy? I’m not sure.

  11. Marsha Frease says:

    I have made many cheesecakes over the years. Your details and tips were spot on. This is a delicious dessert and one of my go to recipes now. Thank you so much.

  12. Hi Sally, my family loves your recipes, thank you! I made your S’mores Brownie Cupcakes for graduation and they were beautiful and delicious – and the graduate loved them! 🙂 I’d like to make this cheesecake for an upcoming birthday… but I was hoping to have it be a bit taller. If I were to do 1.5x the filling, do you know how long I would need to bake it for? Any other tips? Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hi Jenni! I’m happy to help. (Glad you love those brownie cupcakes by the way!) I do not recommend adding more batter for this recipe. The more batter per cheesecake, the heavier it will be, the longer it will take to bake, and the more likely the cheesecake will bake unevenly. (Since it will be so heavy.) For best success, I recommend sticking to the recipe!

  13. Most delicious cheesecake I’ve ever tasted! Took a long time to make but definitely worth the wait!

  14. Peggy Campbell says:

    I made this my first ever cheesecake and followed it to the letter but still got cracks would altitude or ?? Cause this. Also when you say lower middle rack does that mean the rack just below mid way? It was delicious and we just hid the crack with strawberries!

    1. Hi Peggy, I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe! I wrote an entire post on How to Prevent Cracks in Cheesecake that you might find helpful to troubleshoot.

      1. Peggy Campbell says:

        Sally, I did all things suggested so that is why I thought maybe altitude…we are at almost 5,000 feet. Or rack position? Oh well it was great anyway.

  15. Thanks Sally,I made it today it was just awesome,all thanks to you.the cake was very well baked, yummy.

  16. Hi Sally,
    This recipe sounds amazing, but it’s such a huge cheesecake,. How would I adjust the recipe for a smaller one?

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Liza, We haven’t tested it this way but you can try cutting this recipe in half and make it in a 6 inch pan (I’m unsure of the exact bake time needed). Or try this small batch cheesecake that uses a loaf pan.

  17. Wow!!! I made this cheesecake for fourth of July. I made a raspberry sauce as the “stripes” and a blueberry sauce for the stars, and then used the remainder of the sauces + their fresh fruits as the border. Wow was this amazing. Everyone approached me at our small family party to tell me this was an amazing cheesecake. I walked away from the oven for 10 minutes and missed it browning slightly. So, my cheesecake WAS a little browned on top. I also used more graham crackers, and a little more of the butter and sugar for the crust, because I love more crust. but, my ratios must have been off a little because the crust had a hard time staying together as we served the slices. Still, amazing cheesecake that I will DEFINITELY make again!!

  18. Crystal Briscoe says:

    Is cheesecake baked at 350??

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Yes it is!

  19. Crystal Briscoe says:

    I made this exactly like the recipe & it turned out perfect! I topped it with Lemon Curd using Sally’s recipe. . I wish I could post a pic.

  20. im just wondering when i did the water bath for the cheesecake some water leaked into the foil how can i prevent that from happening next time ? 🙂 thank you! 🙂 hehe

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Melissa, You can use a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake. See recipe notes for details!

  21. I made this cheesecake for my son’s birthday and followed the recipe to finish, I even use the raspberries topping and both came out tasting great. The texture were perfected everyone loved it.Thank you so much for this recipe, I’ve tried other recipes before none weren’t like this.

  22. Sally, i believe this recipe has too much ingredients for a 9-inch pan
    I followed instructions closely but had to throw out around 40% of the of the mix unfortunately.

    1. Hilari @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Josef! Thanks so much for giving this recipe a try. Next time, make sure you’re using a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan. Those are much larger and hold more volume than a traditional 9-inch pan.

      1. Thanks i thought springform refered to 9-inch foil pie pan but it was my mistake haha. Other than that the recipe tasted great.

  23. Hi Sally, love your website and your creations, has helped me make a few things. I’ve tried making two cheesecakes using two different springforms, in both cases there has been a residue on the underside of the pan that continues to form/leak for a while after its out the oven. It smells like digestives/butter (I’m from the UK so no gram crackers).

    Any pointers for preventing this? I’ve yet to eat the second one but the first, the base was very wet unfortunately, not really sure why this is happening, doesn’t make sense to me especially if butter has leaked out the bottom, if anything I’d expect it to be super dry/crumbly lol, please help with any insights! Much love

    1. Stephanie @ Sally's Baking Addiction says:

      Hi Jason, Instead of baking the cheesecakes directly in a water bath, try placing a large pan of hot water on the rack beneath the baking cheesecake instead. This should help any leaking issues! See recipe notes for details.

  24. This cheesecake was perfection! The recipe was easy to follow. The texture was incredible. I made Sally’s Chocolate Ganache and Salted Caramel to serve along side it. It was a hit for my moms birthday party!

  25. Only the second time making a cheesecake, and it’s sooooo good! This cheesecake makes me want to eat cheesecake forever. Only problem was that mine did crack a little on the sides, but I don’t mind because it was absolutely delicious. I’m definitely coming back to this recipe 🙂

  26. Hi Sally,
    I have always wanted to bake the perfect cheesecake and ur recipe was foolproof.. my kids and husband loved it.. I used digestive biscuits instead of Graham crackers .. the crust was still amazing ..

  27. Hi ! I was wondering if I could use mascarpone instead of the cream cheese ? I bought some because it was on sale, but now I don’t know how to use it…

    1. Laura Barrett says:

      wow lucky you Tina! I can’t find that local anywhere! I wanted to use that when I make cannoli! I don’t know about using it in this recipe. Sorry…..

      1. I saw somewhere you could use a mix of mascarpone and cream cheese for the cheesecake, but I’m not sure and I don’t wanna ruin it… But cannoli sound like a fabulous idea ! Thank you !

    2. Laura Barrett says:

      Good Luck! I found a few cannoli recipes using that cream instead of Ricotta.

  28. Laura Barrett says:

    Hi Sally! Love this recipe! Make it all the time! My question is about making an Espresso Cheesecake! How much Espresso powder would I use? Is there anything else that gets added or changed in this recipe? Thank you! Hoping you answer like right away! I just found out someone needs me to make it for them now! Ugh! emergency help requested! 🙂 thanks….

    1. Hi Laura! So glad you enjoy this cheesecake recipe. Adding flavor would require testing, so I can’t offer any advice at this time. A few teaspoons of espresso powder will definitely help add flavor though!

      1. Laura Barrett says:

        Thank you for your quick answer. I’m going to follow the perfect recipe of yours and add 1 tablespoon of espresso powder…..good luck to me! lol Just needed to know if I had to add liquid. I’m not going to…..

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