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Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Donuts

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection. 

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Donuts are my favorite donuts of all time.
Of All Time.
When Krispy Kreme in Atlanta stopped serving chocolate cake donuts, I stopped going to KK. True story.

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection.

In case you’ve missed half of my posts ever, chocolate is my love language.

I have an obsession with recreating my favorite chocolate desserts and making them the BEST: chocolate ice cream, hot chocolate, death by chocolate cupcakes, quadruple chocolate pudding cookies, and on and on.

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection.

So you know that once I got over my fear of frying with the sour cream cake donuts, I HAD to create the perfect old fashioned chocolate cake donut.
Had to.

These are better than Krispy Kreme’s chocolate cake donuts, and they are better than Dunkin Donuts.

They are light, yet cakey; chocolatey, yet perfectly sweet; they melt in your mouth like your favorite yeast donut, yet have substance like your favorite cake donut.

I know…That’s a lot to process. I’ll give you a minute.

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection.

The secret to the intense chocolate flavor, without the weight of adding liquid chocolate, is using the best Dutch processed cocoa powder you can lay your hands on (I use Droste), a little espresso powder, and a little extra salt.

Please don’t skimp on the salt and then complain about the dull chocolate flavor. Salt is the ultimate flavor enhancer. Too much, and it’s salty, but use the perfect amount, and it makes all the other flavors pop. It’s like real life fairy dust.

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection.

Droste cocoa powder is also darker than a lot of other Dutch processed cocoa powders, which gives my donuts that rich chocolate color AND flavor. It is worth the investment.

Trust me. I’ve got your Sunday morning breakfast handled.

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection.

I am going to include the same tips I gave you in my Sour Cream Cake Donuts because they still apply. Think of them like the golden rules of donuts. Mmmkay?

Some keys to donut success:

  1. Keep the dough cold. Roll and cut it quickly to keep the baking powder from starting to react with the sour cream. Double acting baking powder will react again when fried, but let’s save all the expansion power for later, shall we.
  2. Use canola oil or some other neutral tasting oil that has a high smoke point.
  3. Monitor your oil temperature. 340° F is too cold – I don’t care what ChefSteps says; it’s too damn cold. Your donuts will be greasy. 380° F is too damn hot. The outside will be dark and awful while the inside is still gooey. Umm gross. 355°-360° F is your target range, or happy place, if you will. Adjust your heat as it approaches the boundaries. Don’t be afraid to turn off the stove. This is the great thing about frying. If the oil temperature isn’t where you want it, just wait. So liberating.
  4. Do be careful. The oil looks so happy and peaceful in there, but I can assure you that 350° F oil is VERY hot. I have the scars from work to prove it. Carefully use the slotted spoon to place the donut in the oil and to remove it. I gently drop it in the oil with my hand so that it slips inside, but I have been trained to have no fear. And the burns to prove it….
  5. May I remind you that oil and water do not mix. When water gets into hot oil, it splatters violently. If this happens, back away. Quickly. This is easily avoidable if you dry all your utensils after rinsing them off. If there is any water collected on the top of your dough, which there shouldn’t be if you properly wrapped them, then blot it off before putting it in the oil.
  6. Place your fried donuts on a wire rack over a baking sheet or towels to catch the extra oil. This will keep the bottoms crispy. There will be no soggy bottoms on our donuts!
  7. Dip the donuts in the glaze while they are still warm so you don’t need to heat up your glaze. People say to use chopsticks. Come on. Isn’t life hard enough? Just use your fingers. It’ll toughen them up. It’s good for you. My Dad taught me that.

These old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. Perfection.

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Donuts

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes

Yield: 12 donuts; 20 donut holes

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Donuts

These chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a little extra sweetness. They are light, yet cakey; chocolatey, yet perfectly sweet; they melt in your mouth like your favorite yeast donut, yet have substance like your favorite cake donut.

Ingredients

    For the Donuts:
  • 260 g Granulated sugar (1 ¼ cups + 2 heaping tablespoons)
  • 42 g butter, room temperature (3 tablespoons)
  • 90 g egg yolks (about 5 large yolks)
  • 453 g sour cream (1 ¾ cups, this is 1, 16oz container)
  • 480 g pastry flour, All-Purpose flour is fine (3 ¾ cups)
  • 120g Dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 15 g baking powder (1 tablespoon + ¾ teaspoon)
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 96 fl oz Oil for frying (I used canola)
  • For the Plain Glaze:
  • 100 g whole milk (100ML)
  • 4 g kosher salt
  • 400 g powdered sugar (3 ¼ cups)

Instructions

    To Make the Donut Dough:
  1. In a large bowl sift together the pastry flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and baking powder. Whisk in the salt to distribute. Set aside.
  2. Line a large mixing bowl with plastic wrap and then spray the surface of the plastic wrap. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the granulated sugar, butter, and yolks on high speed until the mixture lightens and the volume increases, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stop the mixer and add the sour cream, then mix on medium until the mixture is smooth and homogenous.
  5. With the stand mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients to the bowl a large spoonful at a time. Add the next spoonful when you only see a few large streaks of flour left in the bowl. Stop the mixer when the dry ingredients are fully incorporated. You want to do this as quickly as possible so that not too much gluten develops, which will make tunnels in your cake and it will be tough.
  6. Transfer the dough to the plastic wrap lined bowl, spray the top of the dough with nonstick spray and then fold the edges of the plastic over the top to cover.
  7. Refrigerate for 60 minutes. At this point the dough can be held in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  8. To Cut & Fry:
  9. Line a baking half-sheet pan with parchment paper and spray the paper with nonstick spray and set aside.
  10. Lightly dust a work surface with flour. While the dough is still in the bowl dust the top of the dough with flour. Turn the dough out onto your floured work surface, floured side down. Lightly dust the top with more flour.
  11. Working quickly to keep the dough cool, roll out the dough to ½ inch thick.
  12. Brush any excess flour from the top of the dough. Use a 3-inch and 1 ¼ - inch ring cutters to cut the donuts and holes. Lightly tap the rings in flour before cutting each donut. Place the donuts and donut holes on the prepared sheet pan. [After I cut all my donuts, I went back and cut more “holes” with the small cutter from the scraps of dough. Waste not, want not!]
  13. Cover sheet pan with plastic wrap, but be sure not to let the plastic touch the top of the donuts. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  14. While your donuts chill, make the glaze. In a medium bowl whisk together the milk, powdered sugar and salt. Cover the glaze with plastic wrap directly on the surface. You can heat up the glaze over a pot of simmering water on the stove if you want it thinner. I dipped my donuts while they were still very hot, so I didn’t need to do this.
  15. Pour oil into a fryer or a Dutch oven, making sure the oil is at least 2 inches deep. Heat your oil to 350° F. Adjust your heat to keep the temperature between 350° - 360° F while frying. You will need a clip-on fry/candy thermometer for this. I heat my oil up to 360° F before adding a batch of donuts because the cold dough will lower the temperature of the fryer oil.
  16. Gently place 3 donuts in the fryer, keep the remaining donuts in the fridge. Once they rise to the surface, cook for 30 seconds and then flip them with a slotted spoon. Fry until the bottom develops a nice golden brown color, about 80 seconds. Flip it again and then fry for another 80 seconds or until the color is a nice even golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack set over a sheet pan or paper towels. Donut holes fry for 30 seconds then flip, then another 60 seconds, then flip, then another 40-60 seconds. They will puff up and be golden brown all over. You can cook them for the same amount of time as the full donuts but they will be a little dry. [Before I fried all of my donuts, I tested one and broke it open to make sure it was cooked. ]
  17. Once the donut is just barely cool enough to handle (I only waited about 20 seconds but I have no feeling left in my fingertips…), dip the donut in the glaze and place back on the wire rack. Dipping a hot donut will give you a nice, even glaze that isn’t too thick or too thin! I completely coat the donut holes in the glaze for extra yummy.
  18. Store in an airtight container overnight but they are best consumed the day they are fried…with coffee.
https://cheflindseyfarr.com/2016/04/old-fashioned-chocolate-cake-donuts/

Did you make this recipe? I want to hear all about it! 🥳Tag me on Instagram @cheflindseyfarr and use the hashtag #americanheritagecooking

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62 Comments

  • Shashi @ RunninSrilankan
    April 11, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Haha – my dad was a fan of the whole “that which doesn’t kill ya, toughens you up” camp too! Though in this case, if I can grab these freshly fried doughnuts, I just might pop them in ma mouf after their glazing treatment! Cake doughnuts are my weakness, but KK is the only place I used to get ’em from – they used to have a blueberry cake doughnut but discontinued it – now all they have are the sourcough cake doughnuts – I’d do catrwheels if they had chocolate cake doughnuts – but I think I’m better off snagging some from you when I come to visit NYC this summer! 🙂

    Reply
  • Medha @ Whisk & Shout
    April 11, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    These are gorgeous- drooling! I totally agree that quality cocoa makes an enormous difference! 🙂

    Reply
  • phaedra kowis
    May 19, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Can I ask how you put plastic wrap on top of the donuts without it touching the dough?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      May 21, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Phaedra! Of course you can. I place the donuts on a rimmed baking sheet and the wrap them so that the plastic is pulled tight across the top so it is only resting on the metal rims of the sheet and not the dough.

      Reply
  • […] old fashioned chocolate cake donuts are light and perfectly cakey with an explosion of chocolate flavor! The glaze gives them just a […]

    Reply
  • Kevin | Keviniscooking
    August 1, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    I’m inside with my guilt free solar air conditioning, but am melting over these. It’s crazy hot here in San Diego right now. Honestly, Chocolate Old Fashioned are my fav besides the warm from the conveyer belt Krispy Kreme Glazed, this always gets me. 🙂

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      August 3, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Me too!!!! We are obviously on the same donut page! It has been way too long since I had a hot-off-the-belt Krispy Kreme!

      Reply
  • Melissa
    August 21, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    These are absolutely stunning. The picture of you holding half the donut makes me literally be able to taste these! Haha. Fantastic.

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      August 22, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      Aww thanks so much, Melissa!

      Reply
  • Martina
    September 7, 2016 at 1:32 am

    I’m so excited to try these. They look amazing. One question: you mention espresso powder in the intro and then not in the recipe! How much should we use? I love using espresso powder to deepen that lovely chocolate flavor! Thanks!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      September 10, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      Hi Martina! My goodness you are right! I am so sorry about that. It is 3/4 teaspoon espresso powder. I will update the recipe now. Thank you so much for catching that! Happy baking!

      Reply
  • Sarah
    November 20, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    I’m struggling with the temp to make these because I forgot I had to throw my thermometer away after my husband destroyed it. It was sooo much work up to the cooking point I hope it’s not going in the trash! I’m never complaining about spending $6 for a box or enemens again! P.S. They taste too salty.

    Reply
  • Josie
    December 18, 2016 at 9:51 pm

    I made these and they weren’t that good…
    I followed the recipe exactly minus the espresso powder….I wonder what went wrong?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      December 20, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      Hi Josie, I’m sorry you didn’t like them…perhaps you could give me a bit more detail about what you didn’t like and I can help you troubleshoot? Have a great week! Happy baking!

      Reply
      • Ana
        May 17, 2020 at 2:28 pm

        I agree… they were kinda bitter and funny tasting.

        Reply
  • Rachel
    December 22, 2016 at 1:21 am

    Hi Lindsey, I was wondering, do you think it would still work if I baked these in the oven on a parchment lined backing sheet or maybe in a muffin tin? Trying to avoid using oil. Thank you for the recipe though. It looks amazing!

    Reply
  • Rachel Carmel
    December 22, 2016 at 1:28 am

    Hi Lindsey, I was wondering, do you think it would work if I tried to cook these in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet or In a muffin tin? Trying to avoid the oil. Thank you for the recipe though. It looks amazing!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      December 23, 2016 at 12:02 am

      Hi Rachel….Hmmmmmm you could certainly try! I don’t see why not…you might not get as much rise but I am dying to know how they turn out! Let me know if you do it! Happy baking, Rachel!

      Reply
  • Rachel Carmel
    December 23, 2016 at 12:32 am

    Ok! Thank you for such a quick response. I will surely let you know how they turn out. I’ll be baking them soon!

    Reply
  • Rachel Carmel
    December 23, 2016 at 1:11 am

    Oh and one more question, in the recipe is 120g of the cocoa powder about a cup? Also if I was to cut this recipe in half should I do 3 or 2 egg yolks for the dough? I’d rather not use half an egg. =)

    Reply
    • Brenda L Smitherman
      June 13, 2019 at 2:33 pm

      according to google 120 grams is half cup

      Reply
  • EQ
    December 31, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Hey Lindsey,

    I was trying to make it and i wasent able to roll or cut. I dont doute that these tase wonderful but the dough became the consitensy of loose mud. I dont have a scale so im useing metric… Any sugestions?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      January 18, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Hi EQ. I’m sorry you had that experience. The dough is very wet. The rest in the fridge is crucial. Once the dough warms up, it is a sticky mess. I roll them out in A LOT of flour and then dust it off after cutting. I make these in the restaurant quite frequently and if you add more flour the end result doesn’t taste as good.

      Reply
  • Kristen
    January 18, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    Hi! I just wanted to tell you I made these for Church one day and they were amazing! I wanted to leave a tip here in case anyone else wonders if it works or not 🙂 I went in my cupboard to get out my flour and but realized I didn’t have any regular flour and only had Bob’s red mill Gluten Free flour. I thought well I might as well try it! I did and you would never have known they were gluten free! It was cup for cup flour and it worked perfect!

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      January 18, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Hi Kristen, Really?! They worked gluten free? I am astonished and really excited to try it out! Thanks so much for commenting with your results!

      Reply
      • Kristen
        January 19, 2017 at 12:17 am

        Yes! It was the cup for cup flour. I make so many things with the gluten free flour and I wasn’t sure if it would work for the donuts but it did! They were a big hit at church and you couldn’t tell they were gluten free! There was a comment up above about how the dough is a bit wet..I didn’t have that problem with this flour so not sure if that makes a difference or not! Hope this helped someone who really wants a chocolate donut that thought they couldn’t because of the Gluten!!

        Reply
  • Nurt
    January 28, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    I was so excited for this recipe, but the 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of salt made them so unpleasantly salty(and I love me some salt). The only adjustment I made to the recipe was adding a little more coffee. I only fried up four, do you have any suggestions to save the rest of the batch?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      January 31, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      I’m sorry you found them unpleasantly salty. No one else who has tried them has found them such. If they are too salty to your taste, then you should just throw out the dough.

      Reply
    • Jeeni
      April 7, 2019 at 11:53 pm

      I had a similar experience. I loved the *consistency* of these but the taste was awfully salty.

      Reply
      • Lindsey
        April 13, 2019 at 3:44 pm

        Make sure you use kosher salt because table salt will be 3x saltier. Or reduce the salt by 1/3

        Reply
  • Bill Miller
    February 7, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    One correction; Moderately flour Everything near the batter.

    Reply
  • Bill Miller
    February 7, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    For those of you who did not like your results, come over to my house. Mine were great.

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      February 8, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Haha! Thanks Bill! Happy donuting

      Reply
  • Dylan
    February 10, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    I made these the other day, they were so good! Great job on this recipe. I made them for my students and they loved them, I will definitely be making them again

    Reply
  • Justin
    March 27, 2017 at 9:33 am

    The glaze recipe sort of ruined the taste on these…tasted way too much like powdered sugar. Would recommend finding a different glaze to go with these.

    The donuts turned out perfectly though. We didn’t have a thermometer, so we had to mess around with the temp and adjust as we went along, but they turned out well once we got it right.

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      May 9, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Hi Justin! I’m glad you enjoyed the donut part. The glaze taste really depends on how thick it is. If it isn’t hot when applied or if the donuts aren’t hot, then it goes on too thick and isn’t as enjoyable. Thank you for your feedback!

      Reply
  • JANis
    May 27, 2017 at 11:35 am

    For how Long do u fry the doughnuts?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      May 29, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Janis! Check out step 15 in the instructions 🙂 Happy Frying!

      Reply
  • AIBuchanan
    June 8, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. My first attempt didn’t go very well. I believe it was the quality of my coco. However the second attempt gave a a perfect light cake doughnut the only thing I would do differently is use just a little less salt in the glaze. Other than that they are amazing! This recipe is a keeper. Thank you again.

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      June 15, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      I’m so glad you persevered and tried again!

      Reply
  • Maggy;D
    April 12, 2018 at 5:31 pm

    Well my donuts came out perfect but they tasted like funnel cake lol sooo idk maybe i did something wrong in the process?.. i don’t remember how donuts taste like! Lol

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      April 17, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      Hmmmm Hi Maggie! Well I don’t think chocolate donuts and funnel cake taste similar, but maybe? lol

      Reply
  • […] Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake Donuts […]

    Reply
  • Jack
    September 5, 2018 at 10:44 pm

    Can this recipe be modified to do as a baked instead of fried donut. They sound so good but I can’t eat fried. Thanks

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      October 4, 2018 at 5:31 pm

      Hi Jack, I would not suggest that! Baked donuts are really just cake in a donut shape. Any dense cake batter will do.

      Reply
  • Mariah
    September 7, 2018 at 4:42 am

    Curious if anyone has tried baking these and what their results were!?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      October 4, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Hi Mariah, Don’t bake these! You need more of a cake batter for baked cake donuts.

      Reply
  • Jennifer M.
    October 25, 2018 at 7:32 am

    Hello I was curious as to what 120 g comes to in cups. I no longer have a scale and nobody in my house can seem to tell me where it went…lol. All I ever get about anything is I don’t know I ain’t seen it.

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      November 11, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      All the measurements are also written in volume measurements on the recipe. It depends on what you are weighing

      Reply
      • Brenda L Smitherman
        June 13, 2019 at 2:30 pm

        Lindsey please re check the measurment is missing from the cocoa portion of recipe and that was also my question.

        Reply
  • Josh
    January 18, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Did anyone try handmixing the dough?
    Lindsey is hand mixing ok here ?
    Thx for sharing guys….

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      January 19, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Josh! I have never tried hand mixing the dough but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. It might make a mess!! Because of the ratio of butter to sugar it might be easiest to actually work the butter in by hand as long as you work quickly so that you don’t melt the butter. Happy frying!

      Reply
  • Lauren
    January 4, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    Would this be able to be baked instead of fried? If so how?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      January 27, 2020 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Lauren. Sadly baked donuts are actually cake and require a different dough (batter actually).

      Reply
  • Gloria S
    March 27, 2020 at 11:18 am

    These were exactly what my husband wanted! Air fried at 330° F for 6-7 minutes on cut to size parchment circles after a generous application of nonstick spray. High Altitude changes for 7,200 feet: added extra egg yoke and 1 TBS milk, reduced baking powder by 3/4 tsp and reduced sugar by 2 TBS. I used a chocolate hard glaze and sprinkles. Thank you so much!

    Reply
  • Tara
    April 10, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    So I made these with dark cocoa powder, It’s what I had on hand for my baking, and I’m not sure these are as good as they were raved about 🙁
    I followed the recipe to exact (I bake often so isn’t feel super worried about my outcome either) and they’re just ‘meh’

    I’m going to wait for them to cool completely, but so far they are not the same consistency of an old fashion sour cream glazed donut. Those are usually quite dense, and these are fluffy.

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      April 11, 2020 at 8:38 am

      Hi Tara, Being in NYC during the quarantine I hear you on baking with what you have! There is a flavor difference between regular dutch processed and the dark cocoa powder (though that one is also dutch processed). I have no doubts about your baking prowess – these are definitely a balance between dense and fluffy. The true old-fashioned cake donuts that I am obsessed with have that texture – like before Krispy Kreme discontinued their chocolate cake 🙁

      Reply
      • Tara
        April 11, 2020 at 10:04 am

        That’s the donut I’ve been searching for!! When I lived in southeast Texas, HEB grocery made them for a time, but then they stopped as well. I can find old fashioned sour cream glazed in most donut shops, but never that glorious chocolate. Maybe I’ll try again with some slight modifications.

        Stay safe!!!!

        Reply
        • Lindsey
          April 13, 2020 at 10:38 am

          You stay safe and healthy too, Tara! I feel you: when I do find the old fashioned chocolate cake, I am usually disappointed.

          Reply
  • John
    April 13, 2020 at 9:46 am

    Hello, I was wondering if anyone else experienced that too much oil is being absorbed into the donuts? Temp was never below 350F and at most 360F, wondering if rising the temp to 375F might help. Also, I used regular veggie oil instead of canola, could this really be the issue?

    Reply
    • Lindsey
      April 13, 2020 at 10:36 am

      Hi John, Have you checked your thermometer? It requires constant monitoring to make sure the temperature is maintained. Are you frying a bunch at a time? That can also lower the temperature of the oil abruptly. You could bring the temp a little higher before adding several cold donuts but you want to be careful because if it is too hot, the outside will burn and the inside will be raw. 375 is hot. I fry at 340 in the restaurant but I have a fryer that maintains the temp. I don’t think veggie oil is a problem. Good luck!

      Reply
  • […] pantry and I started to wonder about chocolate sour cream donuts.  With a little googling I found this recipe for donuts and although they look amazing, I didn’t feel like putting that much effort into a […]

    Reply

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