Sunday, September 11, 2011

Individual No-bake Chocolate Cakes for a Celebration


Hi guys!!!  Wow, did I miss you, did you miss me too?  

It was a long time away and a lot of hard work, but now I am back, and better than ever, because now I am a PhD!  After 6 years, 225 pages of a dissertation, and too many days to count when I thought I had lost my mind, I am FINALLY finished.  There are not words to describe how relieved and happy I feel, but just check out this big smile on my face!


It felt great to show my family and friends my more professional side, and to demonstrate to the scientific community what I have accomplished.  I could literally feel my heart swelling with pride as it dawned on me just how big of an achievement this is.  I actually think I surprised myself with how much I know, and how far I have come.  It's funny, when you work on something for so long, and hold onto it so tight, sometimes you miss the big picture.  And the big picture here is that not only am I amazed to have been blessed with the talents and determination to earn a PhD, but I am also immensely lucky to have have family, friends, and co-workers that have supported me, encouraged me, and always believed in me.  They are my heart, and without them, none of this would have been possible. 


The entire day of my defense was more than I could have hoped for - my boss said my talk was excellent (which is high praise), and I felt like it was hands down the best presentation I have ever given.  My family and almost all my friends were there, and after everything was done, we popped open bottles of champagne to celebrate.        


Can you tell how excited I was to be done?  

My lab did a fantastic job of organizing food and drinks for everyone to enjoy, and my good friend Marie came with a special surprise - a lab-themed cake from Jenny Wenny Cakes!

Yes, I am a complete nerd because I totally loved this.

We relaxed, drank wine, ate lots of food, and generally were happy.  Of course, the best part for me (aside from the huge weight lifted off my shoulders) was to be able to celebrate the day with my Mom, Dad, and my sister.


After everything was done, my family and I spent the rest of the weekend lounging at the pool, going to the beach, and eating amazing food.  Because what is a celebration weekend without a little sunshine and good eats? 


At the end of the weekend, my sister and packed up the car and headed up to Sequoia National Park for a few days of camping.  After writing 225 pages for my dissertation, all I could think about was unplugging and getting away from the computer, and some time in the fresh air of the mountains was just what I needed.  The weather was perfect, we saw tons of wildlife, and definitely had an adventure driving into Mineral King.  (Has anyone else been there?  Soooo beautiful, but seriously - that road?!  Holy shit.)  I have tons of photos and can't wait to tell you more about our vacation, but that is for another post and another day.


For now, I can't leave you with out a recipe, and I felt like I needed to celebrate my PhD here on The Cilantropist with a little dessert.  

So of course, I turned to chocolate.  Pure and unadulterated, these Individual No-bake Chocolate Cakes are the epitome of effortless indulgence.  Basically just a combination of chocolate and heavy cream, you can make these in under 10 minutes and they are sinfully good.

The recipe originally comes from 101 Cookbooks, where Heidi says she makes this no-fuss dessert for guests (or herself) when she doesn't feel like taking on a big project but still wants something sweet.  The chocolate and cream are heated and mixed together, and then can be poured into any mold you want; when it cools the chocolate 'cake' is almost the texture of a soft truffle.   

These cute scissors I got from Etsy are perfect for cutting parchment.


To make this, the key is line your pan with parchment - otherwise you will never be able to get the chocolate goodness out of the pan and will just end up eating it with a spoon.  (Which of course I am not ashamed to admit I have done, but it might not be the best for company.)  In her original recipe, Heidi poured her chocolate into a cute small loaf pan, and from her pictures it seems her chocolate loaf could be sliced into pieces at least 2 inches high.  I tried this recipe in my standard loaf pan, and only ended up with slices less than 1 inch high, more like small chocolate bars.
  
That was all well and good, but I wanted something a little different.  Then I had a genius idea.  (Because now that I am a PhD, I will, of course, have many genius ideas.)  I decided to try this recipe in square muffin tins to make individual chocolate cakes.  I was a little worried about getting the cakes out, but it seriously worked like a charm - way better than using the loaf pan.     

Smooth and sinful chocolate. 

Shiny chocolate setting up in square muffin tins.

Because of the parchment, the individual chocolate cakes unmold easily from the muffin tin.

Since these came out so beautifully, I couldn't resist topping each cake with some salted caramel ice cream for an extra treat.  These individual cakes are super rich, so actually I think some whipped cream, berries, or ice cream are a perfect addition to round it out.  


These no-bake chocolate cakes were a small way for me to celebrate a big accomplishment, but this now this make-ahead recipe will definitely be on rotation for dinner parties and nights with friends in the future.  Because when it is as simple as this, do we really even need a reason to celebrate?  

Enjoy, and thanks so much for all your support and encouragement over the last few months! 


You might also like: Dark Chocolate Truffle Tart
One year ago: Dense Dark Chocolate Ice Cream (apparently this time of year I have chocolate on the mind!)
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Individual No-bake Chocolate Cakes
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks


Heidi originally made this dessert in a loaf pan, but you can make it any pan or tin you want as long as you line it well with parchment paper.  The recipe makes about 2 cups total chocolate volume (yum!) so calculate that when you chose your dish.  Also, the coffee and spice flavors are a great pairing for the dark chocolate, but you could also think about other ones like orange or cherry for different occasions.  


Makes 6


8 oz quality chocolate, at least 60% cacao, finely chopped
8 oz (1 cup) heavy cream
1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 packet Starbucks Via instant coffee, or 1-2 tsp instant coffee
1/4 tsp sea salt


For serving: Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
Special equipment: A square muffin pan, parchment paper to fit inside each square and up the sides (see photos above)


First prepare your pan by greasing the bottom of each muffin square, then fit a piece of parchment across the bottom and up the sides.  The bottom and two of the sides will be covered with parchment.  Then lightly grease the parchment again, and then fit another piece of parchment over the top of the first one, going in the opposite direction.  Now the bottom and all sides of each tin should be covered with parchment.  


Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until it is smooth.  Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat the heavy cream over medium-low heat until it is just hot (Do not boil).  Remove the cream from the heat, and stir in the cinnamon, coffee, and salt.  Then slowly stir in the melted chocolate, and mix well until everything is completely smooth.  Use a ladle or a large spoon to transfer the chocolate cream to the prepared muffin tin.  Each tin will hold about 1/3 cup, and this recipe will fill about 6 cups (with some leftover). 


Cover the tin with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and solid, a few hours or overnight.  To serve, remove the tin from the refrigerator, let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes, then remove each individual chocolate cake from the tin using the parchment sides.  Unmold onto a small plate for serving, and top with salted butter caramel ice cream if you like.  

80 comments:

  1. Congrats x 100! You've more than earned it!

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  2. Congrats, Amanda! that is awesome.

    What a devilishly scrumptious dessert! So luscious.

    I'd love to visit Sequoia Park and see those amazing trees.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  3. Congratulations Amanda! The cake looks perfect and caramel icecream is a winner.

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  4. congratulations amanda !! love the lab cake :D the chocolate cake looks cute & yummy

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  5. CONGRATS amanda!!!! This chocolatey & delightful cake is a perfect way to celebrate this happy occasion with :) Cheers..
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

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  6. Congratulations! Those chocolate cakes are a great way to celebrate your awesome accomplishments.

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  7. wow congrats on your HUGE milestone/achievement Dr. ;) ! i can imagine what it must feel to be finally done with something youve been working hard on for the past 6 years! ohh and the dark choc + salted caramel = win!

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  8. An absolutely beautiful way to celebrate... CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    I've been toying with a PhD since finishing grad school last year. Such an undertaking - you must be so, so proud! Glad to hear your defense went well, also. Can't imagine a better way to cap off all those years of hard work.

    Choc cakes well deserved.

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  9. Congratulations Dr! Thats a lot of pages - 225 pages is the end result but I am sure a lot more was written along the way. The cake is well deserved, triple helping of course

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  10. Wow!!! Congratulations on your success Amanda. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I will surely try this out.

    Take the Dessert Personality Test and find out your personality on the basis of your favorite dessert. I have taken the test and have enjoyed a lot. Hope you too will enjoy it. Have Fun!!

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  11. Congrats, you are amazing!


    those little desserts look delicious.

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  12. CONGRATULATIONS, Amanda!!! A HUGE accomplishment!!! You should be extremely proud!

    I love these chocolate beauties...and topped with caramel ice cream??? Oh, boy!!! Nirvana~

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  13. You've got me drooling over the celebratory dessert… congratulations Amanda, what a huge accomplishment!

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  14. Congratulations Amanda! I'm so happy and excited for you!! You should be so proud!...and the no-bake cakes! Holy shit! ;) Xo

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  15. Amanda, what an amazing accomplishment for you! Congratulations and I adore your no bake cake... I have to make it for my mother. Relax and enjoy!

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  16. You did it! Congratulations, Amanda! You are absolutely glowing in those photos and you have every right to feel and proud and elated. Now you can rejoin the land of the living.

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  17. Big congrats to you! Time to relax for a bit before you get into the big work. What an accomplishment!

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  18. CONGRATS CONGRATS CONGRATS!!!

    You rock! So proud of you!

    These cakes + ice cream look so delish!

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  19. Congratulations Amanda. You and your family must be so proud. And what an awesoemly simple recipe. I'm hoping you'll eb coming up with more and more genius ideas :)

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  20. Wow congratulations!

    From one lab geek to another, that's some tough stuff you accomplished! And the huge smile on your face is absolutely adorable. Congrats again!

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  21. SO yummy! And as a fellow PhD-er myself, CONGRATS. I'm insanely jealous!

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  22. Congratulations Amanda :) You look fabulous and I am realllly happy for your achievement. So what r you planning to do next - Post-doctorate? Also lovely recipe, worth to try :)

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  23. Congratulations Amanda! What an accomplishment to be proud of! Sending you a huge hug from Iowa!

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  24. Woohoo!! What a huge accomplishment, congratulations. And these little no bake cakes sound [& of course look] delicious!! ps. I want that square muffin pan, too cute!

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  25. That is so wonderful! Congratulations! You deserve to swell with pride!
    And those no-bake cakes are so delicious, I just did the spoon them out of their containers method myself but they DO look prettier out of the pan!

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  26. Congratulations! These look delicious!

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  27. Congrate Amanda really admire some with such determination, I haven't completed my MBA yet, and I;m already 50. Hey thanks for sharing the recipe ;ppls cute and so,,,so tempeting

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  28. Congratulations, Dr. Amanda! That's a perfect dessert for the occasion. Loved the simplicity of it, especially since I'm always too lazy to bake!

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  29. I know I've only known you for the latter half of your PhD program, and I know very little about science, but I am so proud of you! Heart heart heart.

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  30. Congrats Amanda! You are my hero. Having started 2 PhDs in my life and just given up my spot in the 2nd one, I have so much admiration for you. I clearly was never destined to be a Dr - so so proud of you. It's so much work!

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  31. What a fantastic way to celebrate - many congrats again, Dr. Amanda!!

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  32. Congrats, Dr! Very impressive ^_^
    These looks good too! Like a huge block of truffles :P

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  33. Hearty congrats to you, Amanda! I know how much work this is, not to mention the sheer investment of time. Looks like your unplugged vacation was the perfect way to unwind after such an accomplishment. And how cool that you celebrated with a Jenny Wenny Cake! Lovely no bake chocolates, by the way :)

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  34. Your photos of your defense day are beautiful. You are glowing with such happiness and pride (and relief) and your family is too. So glad that you were afforded the time to get away and recoup from all these years of hard work and dedication.
    You are brilliant and talented and a credit to your profession. Sincere congratulations Amanda. Best wishes with all your future endeavors. Somehow I get the feeling that you are going to truly make inroads in your field that we will all be reading about it in the headlines one day, not just medical journals.

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  35. Those look soooo goood! It's great that you graduated, by the way ^^
    You're pretty too~

    http://cupcakes-music-fashion.blogspot.com

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  36. OMG OMG OMG!! Congratulations!!!!! I really needed to read this post. I am working on my PhD Qualifying Paper and am nervous about passing. If/When I pass, I can start working on my dissertation. I've been feeling down today about the whole process, so I this post is so timely. Forgive me for being so self-centered haha.

    CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN!!!! You look so happy! Oh, and the dessert looks amazing!! Your photos are lovely.

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  37. Hooray, congratulations, Amanda! I am so thrilled for you, and that smile on your face says it all. I'm so glad you were able to celebrate with your family and these fantasic cakes. You deserve more weekends of celebration and relaxation. Hugs!

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  38. these look beautiful and more than just a little edible. yummmm. I can't wait to try these.
    Laura @ A Healthy Jalapeño

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  39. Congratulations. I know what a huge accomplishment this is and I'm incredibly happy for you. All of your hard work and dedication has paid off. Way to go. (chocolate was the right choice, by the way).

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  40. Sister I love all the pictures! That was such a great trip, wish we could have taken these yummy chocolate treats with us!

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  41. Congratulations, Amanda. That is a tremendous accomplishment, and I can feel your joy pouring out through this post into the world. That in itself is awesome.

    I've been meaning to send you an email to introduce myself, since our work keeps popping up in all the same places, but maybe I'll just do it here. Hi there, I'm Carolyn, and I write Umami Girl and the Crisper Whisperer on Serious Eats. We both like vegetables a lot. I've been enjoying peeking in on your blog from time to time. And that's that!

    Take care. Hope you can take some time to enjoy the aftermath of all your hard work.

    Carolyn

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  42. Congrats on getting the PhD :D I've just got my bachelor's myself and I'm already congratulating myself endlessly, so I can only fathom the accomplishment you're feeling after 6 years of hard work! And these 'cakes' sure are a good reason to celebrate :D

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  43. Congratulations, Amanda, that is wonderful, wonderful news. Or should I call you "Dr. Amanda"! Great little cakes too, they look delicious, especially with the scoop of ice cream.

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  44. YAY! Congrats!!!
    How exciting it must be to finally be able to call yourself "Doctor Amanda" after all those years of hard work. I'd be grinning from ear to ear too. :)

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  45. Congrats, Amanda! You can tell on your beautiful blog that you put everything you are into everything you do. How exciting!

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  46. You looked absolutely gorgeous!! Congratulations! And the chocolate, quite an idea indeed ;)
    By the way, what was your thesis on?

    Anna

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  47. Where was this yesterday when a chocolate craving came on so strong I ate half a bag of baking chips. Looks fabulous!

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  48. You're back! Congratulations! I'm glad everything went well and you're all done... and hopefully back to lots and lots of cooking!

    What a cute recipe with which to celebrate. I haven't tried a no bake cake or anything like this so I am going to have to change that. p.s. that cake your friend Marie made is adorable!

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  49. Congratulations, Amanda! That is a huge achievement, so happy for you :) xoxo

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  50. Congratulations. You must feel so great to finally reach your goal after such a long journey. Your dessert looks amazing. I am sure it tasted amazing as well.

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  51. Congratulations!!! What an incredible accomplishment, so happy for you! There's no better way to celebrate than with chocolate. :-)

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  52. Congratulations!!! How exiting and what an awesome celebration!
    These little cakes look so cute and perfect too. :D

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  53. Congratulations... what a huge accomplishment!!! Yummy cakes too!

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  54. Amanda, I had no doubt that you would deliver a stellar presentation! Congratulations! You need to bask in this glorious moment for at least a year, after spending so much time and effort on achieving your PhD. And I really like your nerdy side - that cake would be cherished in my family, too (my dad is a retired surgeon, my husband's hobby is nuclear physics, my youngest daughter wants to be an endocrinologist, and only a coincidence pushed me to study Liberal Arts rather then Microbiology).
    Enjoy the time with your family and glorious San Diego weather.
    My girls will love these cakes, especially as they don't have to be baked!@
    (Did I see a bear on one of those photos? You are crazy!)

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  55. Congratulations, Doc! It's such an achievement to finish your PhD ... just be sure people use it when referring to you. You know, Doctor Amanda and all ;)

    I love the look of these desserts, and in fact am halfway through a bar of organic choc + salted caramel I bought at Trader Joes the other day that I betcha tastes like the bar equivalent. Yum.

    Well done, and from one Doc Amanda to another - it's time for a brain holiday! ;)

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  56. Congratulations Amanda! What an achievement.
    Love these little cakes so adorable.
    Looks like a fun trip!

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  57. You look radiant and beautiful!! Congrats. So exciting :)

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  58. Congratulations and great recipe. I think I know just the occation for these.

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  59. What wonderful news -- a huge and well deserved congratulations to you, Amanda! :-) Now you can let out a big sigh of relief and get ready for the next chapter in your life. You'll be awesome! :-)

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  60. Hi There,

    Heartiest congratulations to you for all your hard work and success !!!!
    the no bake cakes are amazing and have bookmarked this recipe. will surely try it and let you know. thanks !

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  61. Congratulations Dr Amanda!!! You must feel so accomplished! :-)

    These look amazing - can't wait to make them!

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  62. Congratulations, Amanda! You are absolutely radiating joy in those photos! And the cakes, well, they're of course fabulous. :)

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  63. Big congrats!!! What an accomplishment? And what better way to celebrate than with chocolate?

    So glad you got some much deserved time off, and looking forward to reading more recipes to come.

    xoxo
    Jen
    --
    Domestic Divas
    www.domesticdivasblog.com

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  64. Congratulations! And thanks so much for the shout out! It is so wonderful to see your smiling face at your party, and I just know that you must make a huge difference to the scientific community as they need sparkly enthusiastic people like you so much.

    Good luck with wherever your future takes you! It was lovely to see you at the blogger brunch!

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  66. congrats on the phd! So amazing.

    The fact that these are no-bake also makes me a very happy camper.

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  67. First time here and love your blog. Congratulations for your hard earned achievement! Love the chocolate cake recipe.

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  68. Congrats you gorgeous, fabulous gal! Sooo beyond happy for you. :)

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  69. Congrats Dr.!! I had no idea all along that's what you were working on! What an accomplishment.

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  70. Wow!! Congratulations in all respects..your degree, your family, your dessert, but mostly your huge smile of happiness!!
    Well done!!

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  71. I am so very impressed. Congratulations!! This cake looks like an amazingly perfect way to celebrate. Now go relax some more and celebrate, you're a PhD!

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  72. Congratulations Amanda! Woothoo!! I miss you roomie - we need to get together and cook sometime soon! Btw - I love the picture of you and the champagne bottle!

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  73. I'm truly happy for you Amanda! Congratulations! It's nice to see that you enjoyed that weekend celebration with your family. You deserve it! And I'm loving that no-bake chocolate. It's great if an unexpected guest comes by your home.

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