The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever. The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Buttercream Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! // addapinch.com #chocolatecake

The best chocolate cake recipe. Ever? There are plenty of claims for the best chocolate cake recipe. I get that. But with one bite of this decadent, moist chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, every single person around the table commented that this was the best chocolate cake they’d ever tasted.

So as for my house, this chocolate cake recipe now holds that honor.

As the compliments continued, I didn’t begin to tell them how easy it was to make.

In all honesty, it is probably one of the easiest cakes I’ve made in a long time, really, but I just smiled and thanked them.

As we continued on gobbling up the cake, drinking our coffee or iced cold milk, the compliments just kept coming.

Then the requests for the recipe started.

That’s generally when you know that folks really like what you’ve made if they ask for the recipe and tell you for what event they plan to serve it.

As a cook, that really is one of the highest compliments you can receive – well, at least in my book.

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe Ever

It was great to hear that they thought the cake was just as good after their last bite as they thought it was with their first.

Here’s another great thing about this recipe. The cake batter really can be made in a bowl without the use of a heavy duty mixer. Of course, that just makes things easier, but this is easily a recipe my Grandmother would have enjoyed making in her tiny kitchen with a whisk and a bowl. And I’m sure it would have turned out perfectly, too.

Slice of cake on a stack of white dessert plates

I’m not going to kid you, this makes a very rich, moist chocolate cake recipe. So if you are a faint of heart chocolate cake person, this is not the cake for you.

Based on the Old Fashioned Hershey’s recipe, I sort of went a bit heavy-handed with some changes testing cake after cake until I got it just the way I wanted it, but the end result was oh so worth it.

Fork holding a bite of cake with frosting on white dessert plates

The few crumbs left on plates gave that away.

One of the ingredients that really made this cake recipe come to life, in my opinion, was the addition of espresso powder in both the chocolate cake and in the chocolate frosting.

If you’ve not tried a bit of espresso when baking with chocolate, you really should.

The espresso works to elevate the flavors in much the same way as vanilla extract and I now think of it as an essential part of my spice cabinet.

Espresso powder is easy to find at the grocery store or even online if your grocer doesn’t stock it normally, but I use it fairly frequently and it can become a little pricey. I’ve started making my own homemade espresso powder and since I have I’m not looking back! It is so easy to make and have on hand!

Believe me when I say, it is very much worth the effort to have just for those times you are baking with chocolate!

Photograph of a cake with swirled buttercream frosting on white cake plate.

So my friends, if you have a chocolate cake lover in your midst, make them this cake. If they’ve had a bad day this is certainly something that will brighten it for them. If they’ve had a great day, then this chocolate cake is a great way to celebrate with them!

Let me just say again, this amped up classic chocolate cake + this Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe = the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had!

How to Make Ahead and Store the Homemade Chocolate Cake:

Both the cake and the chocolate frosting can be made ahead. Allow the cakes to cool completely, wrap them well in plastic wrap and place each layer into a gallon zip top freezer bag. Freeze the cake layers for up to one month.

To frost the cake, simply remove from the freezer and allow to thaw in the refrigerator with wrapping intact. Then, frost the cake once it has completely thawed.

Store the cake at room temperature on the counter. I like to store under a cake dome to keep the cake fresh.

Chocolate Cake Modifications You May Be Interested to Know About:

Note that I have updated the recipe to include some additional ingredients that I have tested through the years. I have found that this chocolate cake is even more versatile than I originally imagined! I’ve listed some of the modifications I’ve tested that I think may be of interest to you.

As a Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake as a gluten-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve successfully used an equal amount of gluten-free flour in place of the all-purpose flour listed in the recipe.

As a Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake a dairy-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used almond milk as well as coconut milk in place of the dairy. While not dairy-free, I’ve also used buttermilk in place of the milk with great results.

As an Egg-Free Chocolate Cake Recipe:

To make the cake an egg-free chocolate cake recipe, I’ve used 2/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce in place of the 2 large eggs in the recipe. You will note that you may have to bake the cake just a few minutes more. Be sure to check with the skewer for doneness.

I’ve also used Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer with great success.

To Use Butter and Other Oils:

I’ve additionally tested the chocolate cake recipe with additional oils, as well as butter. I’ve tested using an equal amount of melted coconut oil to the vegetable oil called for in the recipe. I’ve also tested using the same volume of melted butter in place of the oils in the chocolate cake. While it does make the cake texture slightly different, it is still mighty delicious and worth trying if you’d prefer to use butter in place of oils in your chocolate cake.

Whew! See what I mean! This is the chocolate cake of everyone’s dreams, I think!

Best Chocolate Cake Ever // addapinch.com

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe {Ever}

The Best Chocolate Cake Recipe – A one bowl chocolate cake recipe that is quick, easy, and delicious! Updated with gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free options!
4.98 from 2965 votes

Review Recipe

Print Recipe

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time45 mins
Servings: 24
Course Dessert
Calories: 124kcal
Cuisine American
Author: Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder homemade or store-bought
  • 1 cup milk buttermilk, almond, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil canola oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350ΒΊ F. Prepare two 9-inch cake pans by spraying with baking spray or buttering and lightly flouring.

For the chocolate cake:

  • Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder to a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk through to combine or, using your paddle attachment, stir through flour mixture until combined well.
  • Add milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water to the cake batter until well combined.
  • Distribute cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center of the chocolate cake comes out clean.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, remove from the pan and cool completely.

Notes

The cake batter will be very thin after adding the boiling water. This is correct and results in the most delicious and moist chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted! xo
Freezer Friendly
Let the baked cake layers cool completely. Wrap them well with plastic wrap and then with foil. Put each layer into a freezer bag and freeze up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight with wrapping intact. The next day, the layers are ready to fill and frost.
Β 
Nutritional information is for the cake only.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 178mg | Potassium: 114mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 229IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 34mg | Iron: 1mg
Have you made this recipe?Tag @addapinch on Instagram or hashtag it #addapinch

Do let me know how you like it.

Here are a few additional ways I like to make this cake!

Chocolate Cupcakes

If you are looking for cupcakes from this recipe, I’ve shared my recipe for the best chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting for ya. This recipe makes a perfect dozen so that you can scale the recipe to make as many chocolate cupcakes as you need! Talk about easy! πŸ™‚

9×13 Chocolate Cake

I love this version! It is a delicious, scaled-down version that is just the thing for potlucks, reunions, tailgates, and travels perfectly! I’ve also scaled-down the frosting so that has the frosting to cake ratio that my family prefers. It is a definite winner!

Large Chocolate Sheet Cake

Scaled for a crowd, this recipe bakes beautifully in a rimmed baking sheet and is perfect for all sorts of get-togethers. Think of it as the 9×13’s big brother! πŸ™‚ This recipe features Fudge Icing, but you can definitely substitute the icing for whatever you fancy!

And there you have it. There are so many ways to enjoy this delicious cake. Practically one for whatever need you might have. But, if I’ve missed one, be sure to let me know and I’ll work on it for you! πŸ™‚

PS – Many of you have asked me if there is a way to make a Vanilla Cake Recipe that is just as delicious as this chocolate. Well friends, I’ve tested and tested and tested and now can proudly say – YES! It is definitely the best Vanilla Cake I’ve ever tasted, too! πŸ™‚

Enjoy!
Robyn xo

The Best Chocolate Cake recipe with decadent Chocolate Frosting that will quickly become your favorite! // addapinch.com

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From the Add a Pinch recipe archives. Originally published 2012.

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Robyn Stone

..where I share sweet, savory and southern recipes, as well as home and garden tips and tidbits of travel.

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10602 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. I am a pretty experienced baker and decided to make this for my son’s birthday. It was easy to make and delicious.

  2. I decided to make the espresso powder and looked on internet to see how to make it. It’s easy! Make a cup of espresso ( I used a simple hand espresso maker) and put the grounds on a baking sheet in the oven on low heat until the grounds dry out. Then grind the grounds as fine as you can using a coffee bean grinder. That’s it! Cheap and easy.

    1. This has been my go to recipe for chocolate cake for 5 years. I can safely say that this recipe started my interest in baking. Amazing chocolate cake. Thank you so much.

  3. I would love to try this recipe but I am a little confused by your cup measurements, surely it depends on what size of cup, I mostly have mugs in my house so I would prefer to have the measurements in weight…………..is there any chance you could give me the weights instead please?

    Thank you
    Mandy

  4. Hi, thanks for your wonderful simple recipe! I’m not a natural baker, I like it to be perfect but I don’t think I have the talent for it. However, when I get a recipe like yours, i got my confidence back. I baked it for my partner’s birthday. I gave some to a friend and I got a call back asking me if I baked it, I replied that I did, but she didn’t believe me, I take it as a huge compliment πŸ˜‰
    The preparation took me longer, as I had to convert a lot. First, I made only 1 12inch cake as it was only for me, my partner and our 3 young boys. So dividing by 2 isn’t too hard, but living in Europe I don’t understand much in cups, butter sticks etc… I did use your conversion chart which is good but few things were missing. It took me a bit longer to cook but ovens are so different that you just have make a call yourself at some stage.
    I made the frosting using your recipe, it is so easy and yummy. I put a bit less sugar than suggested though.
    I can’t wait to try the cupcakes!

  5. I made this cake for my wife’s birthday,it was a hit but not proclaimed as”the best chocolate cake ever” but beat in mind this was only the second cake I’ve ever made. Plus I had to user instant espresso instead of espresso powder. The criticism was that it had too strong of a coffee flavor. As a non-chocolate lover I thought it was really good. It was ready to make and I will make it again.

  6. I love it! Batter was definitely runny and I was skeptical but it worked perfectly!!!
    I will for sure use this from now on. πŸ˜‰ thank you so much.

  7. Hi! Well, I’ve just made the batter and put it in the oven. We soon shall see how it turns out!! Can’t wait! I have a question though. Never have I seen a recipe for cake that has boiling water in it. Can you please tell me what its purpose is? It seems to make the batter quite watery (for lack of a better word!). Thanks! Wonderful blog.

    1. Hi MaryAnne,
      The boiling water intensifies the chocolate flavor in the cocoa powder. This cake does have a very, very thin batter, but results in a very moist, tender, and very chocolate cake! Hope you love it!

    2. MaryAnn and Robyn – It’s not the only cake recipe I’ve seen that adds a cup of boiling water to the batter. My favorite cake when I was growing up was from a cookbook that came with my mother’s brand new 1949 Maytag Dutch Oven Range. (Back then manufacturers actually included something useful with the range instead of just a flyer written in indecipherable greek.LOL!) It was an actual cookbook full of recipes that are still some of my scratch cooking favorites 60 years later! There was a Red Devils Food Cake in there that was to die for and it called for a cup of boiling water at the last, just like this one does. In all the years since, I’ve seen maybe 3 or 4 cake recipes that call for various amounts of water at the last. πŸ˜‰
      Oh, and For what it’s worth, I’ve just finished a too-huge waistline-expanding chunk of ‘your’ cake recipe. Even unfrosted on my scale of ‘1-10’ I give your cake a solid ‘9.5’ – but only because ‘my’ vintage recipe is my guage for a ‘perfect 10’. LOL!
      Your cake is Delicious!

    3. OMG. It was soooo delicious and amazing! Thank you Robyn! It’s funny because, as you said it had a very thin batter from the water, and while it was in the oven I kept on looking at the cake as it rose up and up and up!

      I made it for my son’s birthday part and the kids loved it AND of course the other moms were like, WOW! They all asked me for the recipe! Plus my husband, who doesn’t really care for cake, said that it was “a fantastic cake”!

      Thank you! This is my new go-to chocolate cake! So easy too!

      -MaryAnne

  8. Amazing cake. So easy to make and so yummy. Even tastes great straight out of the fridge which most cakes dont. So glad I found this recipe.

  9. Fabulous! Very moist, very light! I could not find instant espresso at my grocer, so I double the measurements with Maxwell House Instant Coffee and the outcome was delicious! Highly recommend this recipe! Thanks you for sharing:)

  10. Just tried out this recipe as a birthday baking present to myself. Loved the taste of the chocolate and icing! Definitely super yummy and satisfying, but my cake turned out to be undercooked in the middle, I even let it stay in the oven 15 minutes more and was still the same. It didn’t bother me though because I loved the chocolate to much.

    Thanks so much for this recipe!

  11. I’ve made the Hershey’s cake recipe before and it’s delicious! With the added espresso, does the cake taste like coffee? Or any hint of coffee?

  12. I’m an ex-pastry chef, and I don’t have my recipes at home, so I was looking around for a chocolate cake to sub in for my chocolate pudding cake. Three things grabbed me, the use of both baking powder and soda, the addition of water, and the espresso. These are all components of a kicked up chocolate moist cake bomb. Not having any espresso powder on hand I did a quick brew with the hot water. I also used a quick ganache to glaze e cake. This is now going in my arsenal. Even those at the gathering who don’t like chocolate cake were raving. Perfect, and a keeper. Thanks!

  13. Hi Robyn

    I was wondering if this cake freezes or keeps well. I am making a 2 tiered birthday cake but need to do much of the baking 3 days in advance.

    1. I haven’t made this recipe exactly, but I have made the Hershey’s recipe and frozen it in separate layers well wrapped in plastic. They turned out fine.

  14. Hi Robyn,
    Your chocolate cake turn out scrumptious and awesome. My husband and friends thinks its from
    this French bakery.
    I haven’t baked for almost 20 years. Yesterday I found your recipe and I pray for courage to bake it for my husband’s birthday. And viola…..
    I made it this afternoon your chocolate cake ( followed the whole recipe, down to one cup of boiling water and the buttercream frosting recipe too.) it came out beautifully and i presented it right after dinner.
    My husband loved the cake, a lot of whoo and wah.. compliments.. it was an awesome way to end the night.
    Thank you for sharing your awesome recipe.γƒΎ(οΌ βŒ’γƒΌβŒ’οΌ )γƒŽ
    Blessings,c

  15. I am not very good at baking, and I was skeptical about using water in a cake batter. but it turned out perfect and delicious. I had only one question though. can i freeze the cake batter for future? thanks

    1. Hi! I haven’t tried freezing this batter for using later, so I can’t say with any certainty. If you try it, do let me know how it works for you!

  16. I have to say this was one easy Chocolate cake to make and turned out great. I made it for my son’s birthday and everyone loved it. Could not find the espresso powder so I substituted the coffee flavoring. Think it probably had the same effect. Everyone either had seconds or took a piece home-Was very moist. Thank you for sharing this recipe-will definitely make it for church functions and family reunions-probably Easter too.

  17. Hi Robyn,

    I wanted to try out your chocolate cake recipe. But I have only three pans with me. 8 inch,9 inch and 10 inch respectively. So i was thinking of making a single layered cake rather than going for two. So what changes do i need to make to the ingredients (the quantity) if it’s going to be a single layered cake? Or can i make two with different sizes say an 8 inch and 9 inch cake with this recipe?

  18. This cake is awesome! The taste, texture, and moisture are perfect and this is now my go-to recipe for chocolate cake. I’m glad the comments prepared me for the runny batter or I would have panicked, ha! It received rave reviews from my clan. Thank you!

  19. I need to make a 9×13 cake, so I am hoping your recipe will work for me. (I am making a cross cake for our grandsons’ baptism.)

  20. A year ago, I made this recipe, and yes, indeed, it was the best chocolate cake ever. The espresso powder is a key ingredient and I have taken to adding some of it to other chocolate recipes. I will soon be baking the cake recipe again per my son’s birthday cake request. Thanks!

  21. Hi,
    Your cake looks fab and I would really love to try this recipe because we are all major chocolate lovers.
    I have tried the Herschey’s recipe and my cake turned out burnt on the sides and top and too moist and sticky in the center. It also sank really drastically πŸ™ I am hoping not to repeat whatever it was that I did wrong that time. Any pointers would really help, please.
    Can I bake this in a 9″ square tin? I have only one tin. Can I halve the recipe and make two batches or can I mix it in one go and save half the batter for the second round?
    Sorry to ask so many questions. I am a bit of a newbie and its my husband’s birthday tomorrow.
    Thank you

  22. I came to this recipe backwards by “Googling” a chocolate buttercream frosting. It it delightful! The espresso powder makes all the difference. Love the fact that it wasn’t overly sweet! Next time I’ll try it with the cake recipe as well. So happy that I found your sight. I shall bookmark it immediately. Many thanks for sharing your efforts.

  23. I just finish making this recipe and there is this funny taste than the chocolate flavor, when they are hot. But when they are cool the taste isn’t as strong and but still taste like chocolate at the end. I used Guittard cocoa rouge in the recipe, which is rare red unsweetened Dutch process cocoa. Could that be it? Should I have used unsweetened natural cocoa powder? Other than that I don’t know what could have gone wrong. The cupcakes are extremely moist through. Thanks a bunch for sharing the recipe. If you could let me know if I should change chocolate, I’ll try it again soon. Thanks Dani

  24. the cake recipe calls for “unsweetened cocoa powder” while the frosting recipe calls for “cocoa”. Should I assume unsweetened cocoa powder for the frosting, too?

  25. I searched your site for tips on how to frost a cake, but didn’t find anything? How do you get it to look so flat on top and perfectly shaped all around?? Seems like a cake so decadent deserves some attn with the presentation, yet my frosted cakes never come out looking so perfect. Any tips?

  26. Hi!!! I’m really anxious to make this cake, but I don’t have espresso powder on hand…is it ok to use a cup of hot string coffee instead of the boiling water??

  27. This is the best chocolate cake I have ever made. I used dark chocolate cocoa powder and mini chocolate chips. It turned out moist, chocolatey and delicious! Thank you so much.

  28. You are now 2 for 2. I just commented on your Coconut cream pie I made last weekend. While searching for a chocolate cake recipe, your website came up again, so I went with it. I couldn’t find expresso powder so I made a cup of expresso with my Keurig and used it for the hot water. I made the cake for my parents’ birthday. I thought it was definitely the best I’ve tried yet (I have done the original Hershey’s recipe you mentioned). It was moist, light, and nice flavour. The 9 other people who tried it confirmed it, they loved it. Even my husband has told me this was the best and not to change a thing (he rarely says that, he’s not one for handing out “the best”). I didn’t do the icing, my plan was a chocolate cake with boiled icing. It went very nicely with this cake.
    Another recipe that is now my go to recipe.

  29. I made this for a friends birthday, everyone loved it and said it was kind of tasted like a coffee crisp chocolate bar. I added some chocolate chips in as I like the added texture. I thought the coffee flavor was quite strong in the buttercream frosting so I was a little worried about the non-coffee drinkers, but it was a hit!!! I didn’t actually get to try it as I had to leave the party early (trust me I was disappointed) so I decided to make it again for Sunday dinner at my parents house!

  30. A lot of websites have made their claim to fame as the best chocolate cake recipe ever, but as a whole I’m normally disappointed to a certain degree. Not this time! I had so many people offer to PAY me to make their birthday cakes, and every single person in my grade at school (that tried it) agreed it was the best chocolate cake ever! I filled it with whipped cream and it was to die for.

  31. Robyn,

    I am a 40+ year old englishman who, until today, had never made a cake before! You’re instructions were impecable and other than for a good deal of searching for conversions from cups into pounds and ounces (wish I’d seen that you had one attached!!), found it all very straightforward. The family loved it and my only worry now is that my wife says she won’t need to be making any more cakes!!

    Thank you
    Jon

  32. Yes, best chocolate cake, ever, my family declared (and that was with my cutting the sugar to 1.5 cups and substituting apple sauce for the oil. Gone in less than 24 hours between five people (yikes!). Thank you!

  33. This is without a doubt THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE in the world! I love it! Quick, easy, anyone can make this cake! Its a winner with guests every time!

  34. This is HANDS DOWN the BEST chocolate cake recipe! I even used a gluten-free flour and it STILL came out PERFECT!! I omitted the espresso powder because I didn’t have any on hand. I also had to adjust the baking powder & soda ONLY because of the gluten-free flour I used (Pamela’s Gluten-Free Pancake & Baking Mix) which contained these ingredients already. Everyone at my work LOVED it! The cake was seriously the best I’ve ever had! So moist and flavorful. It held together nicely while decorating. Now it’s time to try The Best White Cake Recipe {Ever}. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  35. Thank You!! This cake tastes wonderful. I made half the cake recipe and 1/3 of the frosting recipe. They both came out just great. My husband and son were in heaven. I am not much of a baker–but this was an easy to follow recipe.

  36. Good day.

    I have been making this cake for a while now and i love it but i have one problem,it has a unny after tast. I thought its my amagenation til my mom also mentiond it. Se said its like a fish tast. I dont eat fish so the smell and fragrance can not be in my house. Do you know what this can be? The cake feels great and bakes great but the after tast and smell is bothering me.

    1. Hi Masone,
      I would recommend checking the freshness of your oil. Sometimes, an oil that may be older can give off a fishy after taste. Also, make sure it is vegetable oil and not canola and soybean as I’ve found that those are sometimes more prone to do so in baking. Hope that helps!

  37. I was wondering if it can be made without the espresso powder. I plan on making this for a friend and he doesn’t like coffee. Thanks!

  38. I have tried the chocolate cake recipe last month for my son’s birthday and it turned out great. I was wondering if I could use the same recipe and exclude the cocoa and espresso to make a white cake?

  39. Thanks for this recipe. I found the icing recipe makes a lot of icing, but if I cut back in the sugar and milk, it was still great and even deepened the flavor of the icing! Thanks!

  40. Going to make this cake for my son’s 6th birthday. He is allergic to milk, so I am wondering if it still works fine to substitute with 1c soy milk for the 1c (cow) milk that the recipe calls for?! Would love to know…. Before I begin baking!

  41. Hello Robyn,

    Ever since finding this recipe last year while getting ready to do the cupcakes for a friends wedding, this has been my go to chocolate cake recipe. I have enjoyed it SO MUCH. I just recently started my own cake blog and was wondering if you would permit me to blog about your recipe. (I will absolutely include a link back to this your original post.)

    To date I have used this recipe for 2 weddings (for cupcakes), and numerous birthday cakes for friends and family. I would change NOTHING its perfect.

  42. Hey @Robyn
    I’m going to try this recipe tomorrow just wanted to know that in butter cream what sizes of butter should be used?
    Reply as soon as possible
    Thankyou πŸ™‚

    1. Hi! The measurement for the butter used in the buttercream are included in that recipe. Just click on that link and it will take you directly the chocolate buttercream recipe.

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