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German Chocolate Cake Recipe

German Chocolate Cake Recipe

This cake is my husband's favorite! Every bite has a light crunch from the pecans, a sweet taste of coconut and a drizzle of chocolate. —Joyce Platfoot, Wapakoneta, Ohio
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Bake: 30 min. + cooling YIELD:12 servings


  • 4 ounces German sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 5 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 cups flaked coconut
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ICING:
  • 1 teaspoon shortening
  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate


  • 1. Line three greased 9-in. round baking pans with waxed paper. Grease waxed paper and set aside. In small saucepan, melt chocolate with water over low heat; cool.
  • 2. Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 4 egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition.
  • 3. In a small bowl and with clean beaters, beat the 4 egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold a fourth of the egg whites into creamed mixture; fold in remaining whites.
  • 4. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
  • 5. For frosting, in a small saucepan, heat sugar, milk, butter and egg yolks over medium-low heat until mixture is thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut, pecans and vanilla extract. Cool until thick enough to spread. Spread a third of the frosting over each cake layer and stack the layers.
  • 6. In a microwave, melt chocolate and shortening; stir until smooth; drizzle over cake. Yield: 12 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 slice: 910 calories, 53g fat (28g saturated fat), 237mg cholesterol, 511mg sodium, 103g carbohydrate (76g sugars, 4g fiber), 11g protein.

Reviews for German Chocolate Cake

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SplendidMorsel User ID: 8953749 255431
Reviewed Oct. 14, 2016

"I must say, I should have read the reviews before making this cake. I too had issues of with the cakes sticking. It was a bit disappointing to say the least, but we made the best out of the situation, by just frosting the remainder of the cakes in the pans. Is it a deal breaker? No. The cake itself is flavorful. Its not overly sweet, which my family and I appreciate. On to the icing. I found that the icing is pretty tasty and complements the cake well. I did not have issues with it bubbling over, over cooking, or it being evaporated milk. Hope this helps."

dbnp User ID: 8932105 253996
Reviewed Sep. 12, 2016

"I have to agree with kathycooks1943.....what a disaster. The frosting calls for EVAPORATED milk. I tried that and it was like water. Then I used condensed milk and that worked. I greased the wax paper and my cake stuck to it. All was crumbles. The absolute worse thing is that this cake was for my son's birthday. I don't know how anyone could have had frosting by using the evaporated milk??????"

BellaNotte User ID: 8888469 250092
Reviewed Jul. 4, 2016

"I followed the recipe, with the exception that I took the cakes out after 20 minutes and I added another half batch to the frosting. Everything worked perfectly, and I was frosting the cake within half an hour of making the frosting itself. I had no issues with it setting up. I had no issues at all. Thanks for the great recipe! I wish I could add a picture. My cake looks divine!"

SunnyAprilCakes User ID: 8857746 248176
Reviewed May. 13, 2016

"It would be nice if you could add pictures of each step so we know if we're doing it right. For example, people have different opinions on what exactly is golden-brown. Thanks :)"

dolanlmt User ID: 5749004 246236
Reviewed Mar. 29, 2016

"I've made this cake many times. My mother made it for many people who requested her baking expertise. She used Crisco instead of butter and so do I. When I used butter it wass a much heavier cake. birthday request for 2 sons and husband ... ever y year."

KathyCooks1943 User ID: 8651526 244627
Reviewed Feb. 28, 2016 Edited Mar. 1, 2016

"What a disaster!!!! Cake stuck to pan sides. Cake sank in the middle. Looks awful. Decided to go ahead and make the frosting. Thirty minutes of stirring the mixture and being burned with splattering liquid, the mixture is not golden brown. Tossed in the nuts and coconut anyway and now it is cooling.. I am an experienced baker. I let everything warm to room temperature and followed the directions. Don't know what I possibly did wrong. Obviously something because most of you gave this cake 5*'s. Good luck. By the way I baked the cake for 30 minutes also. It wasn't done in 24 to 28 minutes.

Finished cake looks so sad. Can't even slice it. Just crumbles into crumbs."

Ccake13 User ID: 8773087 243935
Reviewed Feb. 16, 2016

"What a disaster! I followed the directions exactly and all three layers fell in the middle and when I removed them from the pans the cake fell to pieces. The frosting is way too sweet. What an expensive and time consuming mess."

s_hernon User ID: 8671385 239944
Reviewed Dec. 21, 2015

"I've made this a number of times now, and it is delicious. It gets devoured when I bring it to get togethers and it is now my most-requested bake. It tastes so good that I'm ok with that."

glove40 User ID: 8576510 239159
Reviewed Dec. 11, 2015

"This sounds as delicious as the reviews seem to imply. I will have to try it, as I enjoy baking. I also enjoy reading reviews. But, honestly people, stop it already with the correction of the name. No one is asking for a history lesson. We all just want to know your thoughts on the PREP and TASTE of the cake recipe itself, as it is written . And there is no need for reviewing something if you're going to stated "I added/subbed this or that". Because then your review goes away from the recipe in question to being a subjective review of YOUR OWN recipe."

Crisco1 User ID: 1075021 236886
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2015

"Obviously this is a good variation on the Baker's German Chocolate bar recipe - but please know that the cake has absolutely nothing to do with Germany or people from Germany. A man named John German refined the type of sweet chocolate that bears his name. The cake is an American creation, although I am sure people from all cultures love it as much as we do. I am surprised that the editors at TOH did not pick up on this."

Torogirl User ID: 6721829 235870
Reviewed Oct. 29, 2015

"This cake was delicious! Time comsuming but well worth all the effort! I made it for a friends birthday and everyone loved it. I'll be making this again for sure!"

No_Time_To_Cook User ID: 6334849 233466
Reviewed Sep. 26, 2015

"A lot of steps to this recipe... My husband did not care for the cake flavor/consistency at all, but I could definitely just eat the frosting. Not sure I would make again."

Cajunkathie User ID: 8543846 233054
Reviewed Sep. 17, 2015

"Loved the German Chocolate Cake!!!"

MrsWJAA User ID: 8533880 232636
Reviewed Sep. 10, 2015

"Complex recipe, but very easy to follow... I made this into cupcakes instead to help with portion control and it made 3 dozen. The cake and the frosting are rich and delicious.. well worth the work and cleanup involved.."

tosoon11 User ID: 8516146 231922
Reviewed Aug. 28, 2015

"third time making this cake. no special occasion just because my family so enjoys this masterpiece .. a lot of friends and family asked for the recipe and the source and I gladly passed it on to them. now they are happy people too!!"

constancemolsen User ID: 8460533 230213
Reviewed Jul. 26, 2015

"That cake is so awesome I wouldn't change a thing! Made it for my sisters 54th birthday and it was a big big hit! No need to look further for another recipe, you have already found the best!"

Npioletti User ID: 8411403 227778
Reviewed Jun. 11, 2015

"German Chocolate has nothing to do with Germany the country . ;) (it was a recipe released by German Chocolate company like Nestl? Tollhouse cookies). Trust, Bavaria isn't known for its tasty use of coconut."

RachaelMontague User ID: 1157445 226425
Reviewed May. 17, 2015

"It was delishious! I doubled the icing and iced the sides as well. Then I drizzled the chocolate down the sides from just at the edge of the top. . I then added a chocolate shell around the top and bottom. Made chocolate leaves around maraschino cherries on top. It was for a couple who's favorite cake is German chocolate. And having their 68 wedding anniversary. They loved it!"

wendybrn User ID: 8333710 224716
Reviewed Apr. 12, 2015

"This is the first homemade German Chocolate cake I have ever made and it turned out absolutely delicious!!! I took it to work and it was gone quick! Thanks for this awesome recipe!"

martylb User ID: 1456305 222972
Reviewed Mar. 17, 2015

"This cake is fantastic. The cake tastes exactly like it should. The frosting is to-die for. Will definitely make this again."

eucalyptusgal User ID: 8259884 220596
Reviewed Feb. 15, 2015

"Best German chocolate cake recipe ever! I only have two round cake pans, so I turned this into a four-layer cake. It was perfect. To make it even more decadent, I frosted it with some dark chocolate buttercream. Sinfully good. Worth every calorie."

Bwise3 User ID: 8259849 220592
Reviewed Feb. 15, 2015

"I grew up in Wapakoneta and had to try this recipe!

I made it for my husband this Valentine's Day. I wasn't able to find cake flour in our local groceries so I had to use all purpose. The cake tasted good but was dense, almost bread-like. The icing turned out perfect. I'll try it again when I find cake flour!"

anngemmel User ID: 2078371 219165
Reviewed Jan. 29, 2015

"Made this for my husbands birthday! Turned out beautifully. Recipe very accurate. The cake portion is super light and fluffy - somewhat difficult to get out of the pans. Frosting is super rich but delicious. A big hit - makes a HUGE cake - definitely 12 servings. Will for sure make again! Warning - very rich - but worth it for a bday cake! :)"

chubbybunny63 User ID: 5616180 216143
Reviewed Dec. 28, 2014

"If you were in Germany, and ordered a piece of German Chocolate Cake, they would not know what you were talking about. German Chocolate Cake has nothing to do with Germany, or people from there. It is an American invention."

WiccanGoodThyme User ID: 8022599 11100
Reviewed Oct. 5, 2014

"Delicious looking recipe, but it's not called German Chocolate because the chocolate comes from Germany. It's called German's Chocolate because Sam German was a baker that added a darker formulation of chocolate to his cake batter. The formulation he created became known as German's Chocolate and as time went on the 's' was dropped. Created in America, not Germany."

Groversmama User ID: 8003837 40847
Reviewed Sep. 23, 2014

"I made this cake for my husbands birthday. I had never made a german chocolate before and the recipe took a little time but very easy. I subbed coffee instead of water since I had some leftover but followed exactly other than that. Also, I only put coconut in half the icing and made a coconut half and one without. Both sides were delicious. My husband was kinda snarky that it wasn't fully iced but once he tasted it he was raving about it. The cake was so airy and amazing. This will be my go to chocolate cake recipe. Also, we froze half in slices and it was still amazing."

LML1825 User ID: 6361103 26648
Reviewed Sep. 7, 2014

"I made this cake exactly as the recipes reads. It was AWESOME! The only concern I had was how thick the frosting was meant to be so a little more detail would have helped. I stirred until just boiling, removed it from the heat (similar to pudding) and then stirred in the coconut, pecans and vanilla extract. I let it cool for 30-minutes or so until it thickened more and it all came out perfect. No problems whatsoever. Highly recommend!!"

MOTCook User ID: 7688063 13896
Reviewed Aug. 22, 2014

"I made this cake for my twin sons birthday. The only problem was the cake layers did not stick together once it was frosted. But it was delicious!!"

thecreativebaker User ID: 7200207 13320
Reviewed Aug. 6, 2014

"This takes a little time to make but is so worth it for a special occasion!!! Baking a cake from scratch always gives you a superior product!!! As a TOH field editor, I try many new recipes and this is a keeper!"

debdoright User ID: 7850710 14240
Reviewed Jun. 30, 2014

"Can someone say WOW? I made this step by step and it came out GREAT! The only thing that gave me a little concern was the frosting. It said to store constantly until thick and golden. I would have preferred more detail. I wasn't sure if it was thick enough or golden enough but it turned out so I was happy."

Nichaphat User ID: 7588309 37392
Reviewed Mar. 6, 2014

"It's really flavorful and just the right amount of coconut. Delicious , not too sweet and easy to make."

Chekota17 User ID: 7543876 60817
Reviewed Jan. 30, 2014

"good cake it takes a lot of patience and time."

mantorvillemamma User ID: 7607591 11099
Reviewed Jan. 16, 2014

"Love this cake. I make it once a year for my husband's birthday."

momoflandl User ID: 5566695 201535
Reviewed Jan. 15, 2014

"I made this for my brother in law who loves German Chocolate Cake on his birthday. It was way better that boxed cake of course. It was a labor of love but cooking and baking is my love and the end result was well worth it. It looked a little more naked than a traditionally frosted cake but it tasted great. Extra frosting would have increased an already rich cake but I may frost it all next time just to try it. Everyone enjoyed it and there were very few leftovers!"

nelsonsh User ID: 7567521 7806
Reviewed Dec. 30, 2013

"There is no such thing as German Chocolate Cake in Germany. This cake receipe comes from German's Bakers Chocolate- and is unrelated to anything German.

The receipe is wonderful however and I make it often."

joannrcp User ID: 2796888 60309
Reviewed Dec. 12, 2013

"I made this for daughters birthday and she said it was really good but the cake was more like a muffin what did I do wrong. I haven't tasted it the frosting was excellent I did taste that. I had no issues with wax paper so I am not sure my cake came out so dense."

ATLCook User ID: 7513158 14829
Reviewed Nov. 29, 2013

"If I could give it 10 stars I would! This is the BEST German Chocolate Cake I've ever made! OMG! It was easy and tasted heavenly. Extremely moist. I hate that I didn't make the frosting, so I can't comment on that...yet! I plan on making it next time. Also, I used wax paper and have no problems. Just buttered the pan and the paper, It peeled right off. This will be one of my staples. Thanks!"

bakercharlie80 User ID: 7441582 39195
Reviewed Oct. 13, 2013

"I followed the recipe to a tee. The cake is moist and tasty, but I don't care for the evaporated milk after-taste from the frosting. Perhaps next time I will try making the frosting with whole milk instead."

Caroljay86 User ID: 7368096 60111
Reviewed Aug. 12, 2013

"Oh, I forgot to rate the recipe - five stars!"

Caroljay86 User ID: 7368096 14828
Reviewed Aug. 12, 2013

"This recipe makes a very traditional version of German Chocolate Cake. That being said, it should be noted that the cake recipe was named for the chocolate bar used in the original version, Baker's German Sweet chocolate. This chocolate bar was named for the person who developed it, Sam German. The recipe has nothing to do with traditional German food or recipes. It is, however, very delicious ;-)"

klcaldwell User ID: 6535486 13886
Reviewed Jun. 20, 2013

"Ignore any negative reviews of this recipe because I am sorry to say it did not work because of the cook, not the recipe. This is a keeper for the best german chocolate cake you will find. Follow the recipe exactly and you will not have a problem. The icing may take up to 15 minutes of stirring and cooking but just make sure you cook until thick as it will thicken more when cooled. DO LINE you pans as said with wax paper. The previous cook must have done something wrong. Grease the pan first, put down wax paper, grease again and ONLY cool for the 10 minutes and cake will come out of pans perfect. It says nothing about flour, only grease pans. This cake is even better made a day ahead just make sure you keep it well covered to keep moist. I hardly ever give reviews but this one is worth it! FIVE STARS!"

spgp User ID: 4660773 14827
Reviewed Jun. 15, 2013

"I have never baked a cake using nine eggs and three and a half cups of sugar! I can see the pounds pling on! The cake was delicious. It was a bit hard for me to cook the frosting as it takes awhile and I have a bad back. But I did it for my husband for Fathers Day and he is thrilled. I had more than enough frosting for the three layers. So I didn't need to use the chocolate for the drizzle icing. Great cake. Oh and I followed the editor's advice and used light brown sugar for the cake and icing. Delicious!"

SSSunshine User ID: 7279469 15240
Reviewed May. 26, 2013

"ABSOLUTELY, do not line your pans with waxed paper & grease. The cake stuck to the paper, the paper stuck to the pan, what a mess! And I used nice, Wilton, 9 inch, non- stick cake pans. I salvaged 2 layers of the cake & it was delicious. The frosting was perfection!"

shiny0torchic User ID: 6958458 37200
Reviewed May. 14, 2013

"My fiance rated this recipe a perfect ten a after I made it for his birthday for the traditional slice of German Chocolate Cake. He said that it tastes just like the cake Hus mom used to make for him. I will definitely keep this recipe for next year."

Chlr416 User ID: 7228806 37099
Reviewed Apr. 16, 2013

"This was amazing! Easy to make, not complicated, and comes out moist. I will be making this again. Thank you!"

TimedOut User ID: 7143231 11076
Reviewed Apr. 10, 2013

"The frosting recipe is delicious. The only change I made was to use brown sugar instead of white, which gave it a rich caramel flavor. This is a keeper!"

Vasiliki1 User ID: 7182139 23074
Reviewed Mar. 17, 2013

"Best cake I've ever baked. I substituted 1 c. Light brown sugar for 1 c. regular in cake..and also the same in the frosting. I used Light Buttermilk and since Presto cake flour has the addl was needed. Simply a real delicious, moist cake for a special occasion."

acavanaugh User ID: 2680043 201534
Reviewed Feb. 8, 2013

"But it isn't German!!! That was just the last name of the man who first baked it!!!"

gillettcookie User ID: 3422974 39194
Reviewed Feb. 1, 2013

"every year for my boyfriend's birthday his mom makes him a german chocolate cake, his favorite. This year I made him this one... oh my goodness. Let's just say I'm glad it's a "once-a-year" treat around here!! So light and moist... I am a firm believer in that cake flour now!! :)"

joybear13 User ID: 6443452 15237
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"Make this every year for my husband."

svangilder User ID: 7044779 13884
Reviewed Dec. 19, 2012

"Fabulously moist and delicious! It took me longer than the recipe states to complete, but the results were amazing!"

JGommoll User ID: 7017198 23028
Reviewed Dec. 11, 2012

"Hands down, the best cake I have ever baked. Thank you for sharing this recipe."

saucyraina User ID: 1602561 37190
Reviewed Nov. 20, 2012

"My mom's favorite is german chocolate, and aparently this one is a winner because I've made it for her for the last three years! It's super easy and very moist and delicious."

coffeemama_11 User ID: 4199086 7805
Reviewed Sep. 30, 2012

"I have an Aunt who for years made german chocolate cake and I looked sooooo forward to going to the farm for this cake. I have been looking for the ICING for this cake for a long time, I was thrilled to find this and it did NOT disappoint!!! the icing in this recipe is exactly as I remember it, gooey, sweet and delicious! I make my own chocolate cake and use this icing and I just cant get enough, delicious on chocolate cupcakes also. LOVE IT!!"

FarmerGig User ID: 4442248 23026
Reviewed Jun. 14, 2012

"Excellent flavor and texture, especially the frosting. My only concern was that it stuck to the wax paper when left too long. Be careful to remove the wax paper shortly after you pull it from the oven."

cocoalady User ID: 6551144 13882
Reviewed May. 8, 2012

"My son requested a German Chocolate cake for his B'Day so I found this one a tried it! Wonderful! I subed 1/2 cup of the sugar with Truvia. Made 1 1/2 times the frosting and will double it if not using the Icing. Excellent and will make it again for sure!"

Stacey4 User ID: 2823471 39191
Reviewed Apr. 16, 2012

"I made this cake for my boyfriends birthday. It was so good! I normally don't like nuts in my dessert, but this cake was excellent. It was my first time making a three layer cake and making a cake from scratch. It was well worth the effort. I put the cake layers under the broiler for a few minutes after I frosted them as some of the other reviewers suggested. Great cake thanks for the recipe."

cogmom63 User ID: 1530963 59728
Reviewed Apr. 14, 2012

"I've been making this recipe for quite awhile. One of my changes is to replace the 1/2 cup of water that you melt the chocolate in with 1/2 cup of brewed coffee. It's great!"

sstetzel User ID: 158954 37161
Reviewed Apr. 12, 2012 Edited Jan. 29, 2015

"I prefer unsalted butter, but either one will work."

ballofjoy2006 User ID: 6547885 7804
Reviewed Apr. 12, 2012

"Can you please tell me, is the butter salted or unsalted? (for the frosting)"

demccoy User ID: 4553404 59611
Reviewed Feb. 4, 2012

"Just made this cake for my son's birthday and it is oh, so good! The only thing I changed was that I did not make 3 layers but 2 instead I used 10" cake pans. I will definitely make this cake again and will NEVER use boxed mix or canned frosting for a German Chocolate cake again! Thanks for the recipe."

lizeck User ID: 2156690 59422
Reviewed Jan. 15, 2012

"The best German Chocolate Cake I've ever eaten. Super moist, even days after I made it! Will Make this again and again!"

Floridaysgirl User ID: 4727180 26625
Reviewed Dec. 26, 2011

"The best cake ever! Very rich, but oh, so good!"

Chef_Slim User ID: 5891591 13319
Reviewed Dec. 3, 2011

"Absolutely delightful"

MsTigger User ID: 4982944 37096
Reviewed Oct. 15, 2011

"made this for my husbands grooms cake and there was non left with 60+ people at the wedding."

cassandrazyss User ID: 6206872 39187
Reviewed Sep. 16, 2011 Edited Feb. 17, 2016

"This is the best German chocolate cake ever! It was a first time for me making this type of cake. I made it for my boss' birthday, and she is still talking about it the next day. She is over the moon for this cake."

charlotte34 User ID: 4902579 23013
Reviewed Jun. 8, 2011

"Well, I forgot to rate it. DUH!! I remember also, that we did not cool the frosting, while the cake was cooling, we made the frosting. When the frosting was ready to take off the stove, then we put half on top of each layer, and broiled it. Since I have gotten old enough that it is difficult for me to do quite as much, I have been using the cake mix and the coconut pecan frosting you buy. You can use the mix, and you CAn put the canned frosing on top and broil it .

The added touch she put on with the chocolate drizzled down the sides, I think makes it pretty, and with the sides not frosted, it is not the prettiest of cakes. The chocolate drizzled down the sides makes it look SOO pretty."

charlotte34 User ID: 4902579 15236
Reviewed Jun. 8, 2011

"I have been making this cake since it first came out in the middle 50s. It is NOT a GERMAN cake. The correct name for this cake is, "German's Chocolate Cake". You make it with GERMAN'S baking chocolate.

The reason for the name is because it is made with German's sweet chocolate, the recipe was developed by the company and put on the wrapper of the chocolate. I believe it is still there. When it first came out, the way we frosted it was make the cake and the frosting, and cool them, then you put half the frosting on top of each layer, and popped it in the broiler for a few minutes till the frosting bubbled slightly. Then you put the two layers together.
Try it with the frosting broiled. It adds so much to the cake."

tnbshepperd User ID: 4246539 39186
Reviewed Apr. 3, 2011

"just made this cake today, and while I don't like coconut, - my Father In Law's b-day was today, and he LOVED it! i made extra frosting to cover the sides, but other than that, i followed the recipe exactly. Great recipe!"

cherishhisgrace User ID: 4706333 14826
Reviewed Mar. 23, 2011 Edited Feb. 17, 2016

"The best German Chocolate Cake recipe I've ever made. Since we love chocolate, I also used a container of Milk Chocolate frosting around the sides of the cake. This one is a keeper!"

stormymay User ID: 5688925 15235
Reviewed Jan. 3, 2011

"I have been searching high and low for a cake recipe to make for my son's 4-H cake contest at his Livestock Show in January. I saw this recipe and saw that it won a blue ribbon, so we tested it and Oh My God, it was the best testing, moistest cake I have ever baked from scratch. I did not change anything about this recipe. 5 Stars in my book."

Modogeist User ID: 5619142 37094
Reviewed Dec. 12, 2010

"Wow, this was a wonderful cake. I would definately make it again."

mauler54 User ID: 985127 39185
Reviewed Oct. 26, 2009

"I had never before made a cake from scratch, so was nervous when I decided to try this one for my husband's birthday. It was fantastic! I followed the directions completely, and will definitely make this again! Thanks!"

DENA2 User ID: 9856 39179
Reviewed Feb. 13, 2008 Edited Feb. 17, 2016

"This sounds so good i had to put it in my recipe box. I wish i had a piece of it now."

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