Everything is Awesome Lemon Garlic Sauce

Woah.  Almost forgot I had a blog for awhile there.

I’ve sort of kind of have excuses though.

I’ve been traveling

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Knitting the Forever Sweater

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Residing my house

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Playing roller derby (which is the coolest thing I’ve done)

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Like the photo? Be sure to go to http://wyophoto.smugmug.com/ to check out more of Jeff’s photos!

And, finally, watching The Lego Movie over and over again.

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All in all, it’s been awesome.  Everything is awesome.  Especially this lemon-garlic sauce.

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Yup.  Pretty awesome.  And easy.  And we all know easy+delicious=awesome.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1.5 T butter

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c. milk

3 oz. havarti

.5-1 t. lemon zest

Pepper, to taste

1 t. cornstarch

Garlic is a great addition to basically anything.  It’s like a little nugget of happiness.  In this case, at least 6 nuggets of happiness.  Before you mince your garlic, it’s ok to admire it a bit.

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Garlic goes GREAT with lemon, in case you didn’t know.  Be careful, though, because both flavors are strong, and one can easily mask the other.  It’s a difficult balance to strike.  I suppose if you want lemon-garlic sauce, you add the full teaspoon of lemon zest.  If you want garlic-lemon sauce, put in half a teaspoon.

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Either way I think you’ll like it.

Back to it.  Mince your garlic and add to a small saucepan with melted butter over medium heat.

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Stir constantly for about 30 seconds or until the butter smells nice and garlicky.  Add the milk and cheese and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly.

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Once almost all the cheese is melted, add the lemon zest and pepper.  Add the cornstarch and whisk well, breaking up any chunks that might be trying to form.  Bring to a simmer again.

Spoon over grilled chicken, veggies, noodles, or whatever you want.  Since it’s pretty much fondue, pour it into a bowl and dip a loaf of bread in it and call that dinner.  I won’t judge.

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Yup.  Whatever you do with this sauce, enjoy it.

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Grilled Jalapeno Poppers

It’s summertime (finally), which means grilled meat is a pretty constant staple in a lot of homes.  Besides meat, you know what tastes good grilled? Everything.  Grilled peaches? Delicious.  Grilled bananas? Succulent.  Grilled veggies? Bring ’em on.

Grilled jalapeno poppers? I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

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These jalapeno poppers are easy to make and they really hit the spot.

Here’s what you’ll need:

8-10 fresh jalapeno peppers

4 oz. cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. shredded hot pepper cheese

2 T. grated parmesan

1/4 c. panko crumbs

1 T. butter

The cream cheese I used wasn’t your everyday cream cheese.  It’s Norwegian.  And goaty.

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I got this stuff at an auction (along with a really cool picnic basket and loads of other cheeses).  I know you CAN find it in the US, but you’d probably have to go to a specialty shop in Minnesota or something.  Any cream cheese will do.

Before we got too ahead our ourselves, we need to process the peppers.  Wearing gloves, cut of the top of each pepper, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and drop into a pot of boiling water for 45 seconds-minute.  Transfer the peppers to a colander and run cold water over them.

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Once that’s done, mix the cream cheese, shredded cheese, and 1 T. of the parmesan together.  Spoon the mixture into the peppers.  Make sure they’re full, but not overflowing.

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Place the peppers face-up in a grill basket.  Melt the butter and mix with the rest of the parm and the panko.  Sprinkle over the top of the peppers.

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Throw those bad boys on a grill for about 10 minutes.

IMG_1382 (the more butter you use, the more crispy the topping will be.  I only used about 1/2 T. butter here, and it wasn’t quite enough).

The result is a popper with the flavor of a roasted pepper.  Grade-A grilling material!

 

Sausage-stuffed Mushrooms

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a recipe that actually features antelope.  We eat antelope a ton here, but a lot of the meals are sort of boring–the throw-stuff-in-a-pan-and-see-what-happens type meal.  But this.  THIS.  This recipe is great.

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And now I present to you: sausage-stuffed mushrooms.  Let’s get started. 

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Take out a package of antelope (of venison, or whatever) sausage and let it thaw. 

Brown that baby up!

While your sausage is browning, prep your mushrooms and your spinach.  First, rinse your mushrooms and then pull the stems out.  To do this, take the ‘shroom in the palm of your hand and tilt the stem gently with your other hand.  Then, pull straight up.  set the mushrooms in a pan.

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Finely chop 4-8 stems (to taste) and set them aside.  Then rinse spinach and finely chop until you have about two cups. 

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In a small saucepan, melt 2.5 T butter and add the mushrooms.  Then, add the spinach and cook it up a little.  Let the liquid kind of soak out of the spinach and cook a little more, stirring frequently.  Add 1/2# sausage. 

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Now, this mixture is much too thin to put into mushrooms, so we’ll need to thicken it up a bit.  Add 2.5 T italian breadcrumbs and stir well. 

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Mmmmmmmmm.  Spoon the mixture into the mushrooms.  Top some with mozz with you want. 

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Cover with tinfoil and put in the oven at 375 for 25 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 5 more minutes. 

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Dear.  Barbara. 

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Is there a better way to end this post?

Love.

Shrinky-Dink Supper

I’ve gone to the Taste of Home Cooking Schools a couple of times in my life.  In between teaching the audience how to make four dozen kinds of Chex mix in the microwave (which is a sin), sometimes the chefs disperse a little chicken nugget of wisdom.  One such nugget was a charismatic young chef who told us all this: “a lot of people don’t know how to use shrink.  If you can figure out how to use shrink, you can do anything.”

What is shrink?

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See the wrinkles on the green pepper there? That’s shrink. Shrink is basically produce that is almost bad (or parts that are bad) but is still safe and edible.  There’s nothing wrong with it except it looks unappealing and not too pleasant to eat. 

Guess what? Wrinkly produce doesn’t taste any better or worse than regular produce, and it’s a lot cheaper.  Did you know at some grocery stores you can buy ugly produce at a steep discount? It’s a great money-saving option.  

Today, I made shrink chicken fajitas and they were pretty much to die for.  I couldn’t even tell which pieces of my peppers were a bit shrinky and which were fine.

First, cut up four chicken breasts into nice thin strips and put them in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Then, clean the snot out of everything the chicken touched, might have touched, or could have touched by proxy (put on your paranoid cap and think Outbreak or Contagion when cleaning your chicken-prep area).  Add to the bag:

  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 1/4 t. cumin
  • 1/2-3/4 t. crushed red pepper (or 1/4-1/2 t. ground red pepper)
  • Add in 1/4 t. celery salt just for kicks. 

Let the chicken marinate for an hour or a half day, depending on how much time you have. 

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Then, get out the grill basket. 

Put the chicken in the basket on a medium heat grill.

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There are two schools of thought on grilling: you can either obsessively flip, turn, or stir everything you grill, or you can just let it sit and turn your food once or twice.  I’m of the latter school.  Do what you want, but I am telling you: leave your grill alone.  Unless there are flames shooting out of your grill, or it’s been 10 minutes, just. let. it. be. 

So, since you are doing what you want with your grill (but leaving it alone), you have some time to cut up your peppers and onion.  You’ll need two peppers and half an onion for this recipe.  Cut the peppers into this strips and then cut up your onion.

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Since these veggies cook at a slightly different rate, wait until the chicken is *almost* done to your liking, transfer the onion slices to a bowl, drizzle with a touch of olive oil and put some black pepper over them, then add to the chicken.  About five minutes later, stir the chicken/onion mix and add the peppers.  

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Sometimes you can tell your food is going to be delicious before it’s even done.  This is one of those meals.  Stir the peppers once or twice on the grill until they are done to your liking.  

Serve on a tortilla with salsa and cheese (of course).

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Hello, beautiful.

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See? Use your shrink and do anything!  

Leftover Dinner!

Wow it’s been a long time.  WOW.

I feel like I start a lot of posts with that opening sentence lately.  Ahh well, sometimes life happens–you know, finishing up a masters degree, joining roller derby, not cooking–you know how it goes.  But I’m back with a really fast, really awesome recipe.  Leftover dinners are easy and delightful, and this one is no exception.  Plus, it’s so fast, there aren’t even “before” photos.

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Oh heck yeah.

Awesome, right?

The way these came about are all because my ol’ pa was in town this weekend for my graduation and he decided he was going to wow all the attendees at a graduation party with this cowboy caviar recipe.  It was totally delicious, but there was also enough food to feed about 75 people.  There were leftovers.  Enter one of my favorite dishes, stuffed peppers.  They’re versatile, quick, and easy.  Here’s what you’ll need for this rendition:

Appx. 1 cup of each:

Cowboy caviar

Cooked rice

Shredded chicken

1/4 c. salsa

mozzarella cheese, for topping

4 bell peppers

Preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the first four ingredients together well and stuff the peppers.  Bake for 30 minutes, top with cheese, bake for another 5-10.

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Here’s a good rule: if explaining the recipe takes two sentences, it’s easy and you should make it right meow.  Plus it’s not too often an easy recipe comes out of the oven this pretty.

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If you’re in a real hurry, you can boil the peppers and fill them with hot filling–then making peppers takes about 15 minutes.

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Om nom nom.  Enjoy!

Here are some other stuffed pepper combos I LOVE (all of these are topped with cheese):

rice, chicken, cream of mushroom soup, rosemary

scrambled eggs, sausage

rice, salsa, sausage

I typically plan on appx. 1 cup filling/pepper, unless they’re really dinky.  Be creative! Anyone have favorite renditions out there?
 

A Very Vintage Skirt

There’s something about vintage-style clothing that seems to put a smile on everyone’s face.  This lovely poofy gathered skirt is no exception.

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(Turned out a bit blurry.  Oops.)

Cute, right? The best part about this skirt is that it’s easy.  No lying! Originally inspired by many, many skirts, I used the technique from this skirt here.  It’s cute, and I’ve made it before, but I wanted to take it up a notch, so I added the coolest, most awesomest thing I could think of: a petticoat.

Yes.  Yessssss.  YES.  Could life be any more complete?

Materials:

  •  About 2 yards of the fabric you want to use for the skirt
  • 1 12-inch zipper
  • Thread
  • Fusible interfacing (optional)
  • 1/4 yd. (or so) scrap fabric for petticoat
  • enough 3/4-1″ elastic to make a waistband
  • 3-6 yds. tulle

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Besides all the stuff you (may) have to go out and buy, you need measuring tapes, pencils, blah blah blah…because you need to take measurements.

This skirt really only consists of two parts: the skirt itself and the waistband.  You can make your waistband as wide as you want–anywhere from 2.5″ to 4.”  There are some considerations to this though:

If you’re over 12 years old and are making a high-waisted skirt with a wide waistband, odds are that 4″ below the start of your waistband is wider than where you started.  But, if you take the bottom measurement, you’ll have a big gap.  So you can either make a narrower waistband or you can angle it out and then sew darts in at the end.  Totally your choice.

To figure out the measurements, and angles you need, it’s easy:

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It’s much easier than this.  You don’t even really need math.  I thought you needed math.  I was going to go all Pythagorean Theorem on everyone.  But you don’t need it.  What you need is your starting waistband measurement, the width of your waistband,and your ending waistband measurement.

Take the ending waistband measurement and divide by two.

Draw a straight line on some freezer paper as long as your starting waistband measurement.  Then, divide the width of your waistband by two, then draw a parallel line to the first line that distance apart (so, my waistband is 5″…I have a line, then 2.5″ from that line, I draw my parallel line).  Then, to each side of your bottom parallel line, add the 1/2 bottom waist measurement to each end, connect the top and bottom lines with an angled line, and viola! All set.  You’ll have a trapeziod shape when  you’re done.

Fold your fabric in half with the selvages together.  Place your waistband pattern on the fold and cut–but don’t cut the fold!

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Then, with the rest of the material, you’re just cutting squares.  Take the measurement of how long you want your skirt to end up, add about 2″, and that’s how long your squares need to be.  Then, take a measurement of at least 2x your waist measurement and that’s how wide your skirt will be.  So really, unless you’re freakishly tall, these will be rectangles not, squares.

Next, you need to press your waistband so all we see is finished edges.  Press up 1/4″ on all sides, then fold in half and press.

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Now that that’s complete, grab your rectangles and sew one side all the way down the side, right sides together.  Then, grab your zipper and all your pieces and lay them out:

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Make sure your skirt rectangles are up in the fold of the waistband so you get an accurate measurement.  You’re going to mark the spot where your zipper ends.

Now, take the rectangle sides left open and sew them together up to the pin.  Then press the open edges in.

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Next is the fun part…if you’re into self-torture.

Do you think you are a patient person? Have you ever tried to gather a skirt? I will say, after making many, many gathered skirts, the first couple times can be rough.

Gathering consists of sewing two lines fairly close together with a basting stitch and no backstitching.  Then you will gently pull to gather all the fabric together.

Once your fabric has been gathered to the width of your waistband, you’re ready to assemble!

Here’s where I cheat (read: make my life much easier).  Normally, you would take the gathered part and shove it up in the waistband and sew.  But I’m not that talented and I ALWAYS cut crooked, so doing it that way for me is an exercise in frustration (although I’ve got some pretty made seam ripper skills by now).  So here’s what I do:

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I take one side of the waistband and pin it.  Then I sew through one thickness.  Then, I fold over the front of the waistband and sew through it all.  It’s SO much easier.

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Now you can install the zipper, hem it, and you’re done! Except if you did a tapered waistband, then you need to sew darts.  Then you’re done.

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Now, this is cute, but it’s just another gathered skirt.  It needs a little oomph.

Enter petticoat.

Petticoats are completely awesome, and unbelievably easy to make.  I used the tutorial found here.  Now, when I first read this tutorial, I thought, “ummmm, how am I going to do this?!” But once I sat down in front of my sewing machine, I suddenly got it.

Ok, you need to cut a rectangle (on the fold of your fabric) half as wide + 3″ as the widest part of your bottom.  The length of this rectangle should be 1/3 + 2″ the final length of your petticoat.  My petticoat was 18″ so my rectangle was like 20″ by 8″ or something.

What should you use for fabric? I don’t care, whatever you have lying around.  Use an old bedsheet.  I won’t judge.

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I promise I won’t judge.

So, once your rectangle is cut, make the waistband, which is whip easy.  Sew the side opposite the fold of your skirt together, then turn the thing right-side out.  Turn under 1/4″ of the top the skirt and press.  Then fold over however wide your elastic is plus a little wiggle room.  Sew the waistband closed, leaving a couple inch opening to insert the elastic.

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Thread the elastic through, pull it tight, overlap it by 1″ and sew it together, then sew the opening closed.

Now comes the fun part.  You’ll need about 3 yds. of material for each layer of your petticoat, and it needs to be however long  you want the finished product to be.

Take the tulle and scrunch it up with your fingers.  Then sew it to the wrong side of the skirt.  Repeat this the entire time around.

After one layer, my skirt already has a nice little poof to it.

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Since subtlety is definitely not my strong suit, I decided to go one more round.

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In hindsight, I think one round would have been plenty.  But, this was a practice one made with leftover strips of tulle and a bedsheet.  So overall, I am thrilled.

It’s a good thing petticoats are an undergarment, because this thing is hideous.

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However, the effect, overall is quite nice.  You’ll be the cutest thing to walk out of 1950…since, you know, real people from the ‘5os.  At any rate, this is a cute and versatile skirt.  Wear it with or without, in a million different colors…the skirts take about 90 minutes start-finish, so you can bust out an awful lot of these before summer!

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Slam Dunk Buckeye Pie

I’ve apparently been on a pie kick.  Two pies in one month is a pretty big deal.  First, we had the Drunken Pirate Coconut Cream Pi in honor of Pi day, and now we have the Slam Dunk Buckeye Pie, and I promise you, it will be a hit. 

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Now, I’m no Ohio State fan (On Wisconsin!), but since they are already out of the playoffs, I figure I can make a basketball reference and still be ok.

Besides, the candy that inspired this is the buckeye candy, which represents the lovely state (though I’ve never been there) and not the school.  The Hub-dubs and I are attending a potluck, sort of a farewell deal, for someone from Ohio who looooooves buckeyes–and Ohio State.  And I promise you, everyone will loooooove this pie.  It will be a slam dunk (see what I did there?)   

Who knew naming could be so difficult? (Kvothe does, but that’s a whole other story)

Anywhosie…

Ingredients:

crust:

  • 1 1/4-1 1/2 c. chocolate cookie crumbs
  • 3-5 T. melted butter

filling:

  • 1 block neufchâtel cheese
  • 1 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. cream
  • 1 T. sugar

ganache:

  • 1/2-1 c. chocolate chips (or other chocolate)
  • 1/4-1/2 c. cream

 

Here’s the deal with both the crust and the ganache: a lot of cooking is just formulas and ratios.  For instance, you always make ganache with a 2:1 chocolate:cream ratio.  And that’s as mathy as I get.  As for the crust, the ratio needs to be such that your crumbs will come together and stay together when you go to bake it.  So, if you use 1 1/2 c. chocolate graham crackers and 3 T. butter, that would never work.  Your crust would be too dry.  You technically can’t have too wet a crust, but there will come a point where you can definitely taste the butter.  My typical ratio for crust is 1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs and 4 T. butter, because I like a drier crust. 

I think that’s about enough science for today.  So, what I did was take some Keebler Fudge Stripes Dark Chocolate Cookies and 4 graham crackers (8 squares) with 3 T. butter–the fudge helped act as a binding agent, and since cookies are sweet, I omitted the sugar usually found in graham cracker recipes. 

This time, I used the blender to get crumbs because the food processor wasn’t cutting it. 

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Like all graham cracker (or any crumb) crusts, mix the butter into the crumbs, press into a pie plate, bake for 15 minutes at 325 and set aside to cool. 

You want your crust to be 100% cool before you pour the filling in, because you don’t want any weird  melting to go on. 

Take out the neufchâtel and let soften, then mix together with the peanut butter and beat until smooth and fluffy.  Add the brown sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla and beat again.  

While the peanut butter mixture is mixing, combine the cream and sugar into a small bowl and beat until stiff peaks form.

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Gently fold the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture, then pour the whole gob into the pie crust.  Freeze for a few hours or overnight. 

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Yum-o.  You could leave it like this and throw some whipped cream on top so you have a weird peanut butter cheesecake thing, but then it wouldn’t be a buckeye pie. 

What makes this pie–or any dessert, really–great is the ganache.  It sounds fancy, looks difficult to do, and it wicked easy.  It’s like the trifecta of baking tricks. 

All you do for ganache is heat your cream in a small saucepan on low until you see the first ‘boil bubbles,’ pour into a bowl over the chocolate, and whisk until smooth. 

The less ganache you make, the more difficult getting that smooth consistency is.  I used 1/4 c. cream and 1/2 c. chocolate chips here, and I could stand to double it.  Plus, if you have leftover ganache, you can save it in the fridge for a week or so, reheat, and use.

Once you spread the ganache over the pie,  you will have to work quickly, as you pie is frozen and your chocolate will cool down really fast.  Spread the ganache over the top, let sit at room temperature until it has set, and serve.  

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