Cheesecake Bars

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cheesecake bars

A slice of luxuriously rich NY-style cheesecake is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. If it’s on the menu, you can bet I’ll order it. But I rarely make cheesecake at home because it can be a bit fussy. It needs to bake in a water bath to prevent curdling and cracking, and it’s always hard to tell when it’s done. Cheesecake bars, however, are a different story. Dense and creamy with a hint of lemon and a crisp brown sugar-graham cracker crust, these bars are not only a cinch to make, they rival the very best NY cheesecake out there. They also have a high crust-to-cheesecake ratio so if you’re a crust-lover like me, you’ll 😍 them.

how to make cheesecake bars

Begin by making the graham cracker crust. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter.

how to make cheesecake bars

Stir, using your fingertips if necessary, until well combined with no lumps of brown sugar remaining.

how to make cheesecake bars

Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.

how to make cheesecake bars

Meanwhile, make the batter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the room temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, and flour together until just smooth, about 1 minute.

how to make cheesecake bars

Add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.

how to make cheesecake bars

Beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix. Do not over-mix.

how to make cheesecake bars

Pour the batter into the warm crust.

how to make cheesecake bars

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set but still a little jiggly in the center (it will continue to cook as it cools). An instant-read thermometer, inserted into the filling about 1″ in from the edge, should read 180°F-190°F. Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.

how to make cheesecake bars

Before serving, use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares, wiping the knife clean with a damp cloth between slices.

Serve cold with lots of napkins. Enjoy!

cheesecake bars

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Cheesecake Bars

Servings: 16 squares
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 Hour 15 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 35 Minutes, plus at least 6 hours to chill in refrigerator

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1-1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, from 10 whole crackers
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Filling

  • 16 ounces (2 packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon packed freshly grated lemon zest, from 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F and set an oven rack in the middle position. Line an 8-inch baking dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil (so that there is an overhang on at least 2 sides) and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Make the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, brown sugar, and salt. Stir until well combined, using your fingertips if necessary to be sure no lumps of brown sugar remain. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.
  3. Make the batter: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with beaters or the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, granulated sugar, and flour together on medium speed until just smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt; beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. Do not over-mix.
  4. Pour the batter into the slightly cooled crust. Check to make sure your oven has cooled to 325°F, then bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the filling is set but still a little jiggly in the center. (An instant-read thermometer, inserted into the filling about 1" in from the edge, should read between 180°-190°F.) The cheesecake will continue to cook as it cools. Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.
  5. Use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares, wiping the knife clean with a damp cloth between slices. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  6. Note: The cheesecake bars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  7. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cheesecake bars can be frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, place the cooled cheesecake (cut or uncut) on a plate and freeze, uncovered, until firm. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, wrap it in heavy-duty aluminum foil and place in a freezer bag. Seal and return to freezer for up to 3 months. Remove the foil before defrosting.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (16 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 square
  • Calories: 248
  • Fat: 16 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 24 g
  • Sugar: 20 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 166 mg
  • Cholesterol: 77 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Reviews & Comments

  • Can you make small tarts with graham cracker crumbs with this recipe? If so, what would be the baking instructions. Thanks

    • — Nancy A. Bohman on November 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I haven’t tried them this way, but I think it would work. The baking time really depends on the size of the tarts you’ll be making.

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2018
      • Reply
  • Can I use light brown sugar instead of dark brown?

    • — Arlene on November 3, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Arlene. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi, Jenn – These look so wonderful! I was wondering if you could tell me how you would defrost these. I would love to make these ahead of a party and freeze them, but I want to make sure I don’t end up with a soggy crust. Thank you!

    • — Laura on October 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Laura, I’d just place them in the fridge the day before you plan to serve them – should be fine. 🙂

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2018
      • Reply
  • These are simple to make and delicious! For ease of serving each piece can be put on a cupcake liner. Just flatten the liner to make room for the piece of cheesecake, then bring the sides of the liner up around it.

    • — Lucy Gillespie on October 21, 2018
    • Reply
  • These are delicious! And very easy to make. I do make cheesecakes in a water bath for very special occasions, but I needed something quick with fewer servings. (so I’m not tempted to polish off the leftovers!) These cheesecake bars were the perfect solution. I loved the brown sugar element in the crust – that was a new twist. The lemon makes them, I think, but they would be great without too, if you’re not a fan. They baked up perfectly, absolutely no cracking. I put them in the fridge overnight and they lifted out of the pan, no problem. Slice and serve! Really, really good. A keeper, as are most of Jenn’s recipes!

    • — Julia on October 5, 2018
    • Reply
  • I recently made these cheesecake bars for my son who was in the hospital. He told me he normally doesn’t eat cheesecake, but he glommed them up and asked for more.

    • — PAM STOLLER on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • Very easy to make,they freeze well.I put some fruit syrup on top.Great.

    • — Johanne Ouellet on October 4, 2018
    • Reply
  • I made this recipe tonight and I love it. It was so easy to make and is sinfully delicious. I topped it with a little homemade fruit syrup. I saved the recipe and will definitely make it again.

    • — Deanna Leittl on September 28, 2018
    • Reply
  • Wow, wow, wow! These cheesecake bars are so delicious and incredibly easy to make! I have Celiac Disease so I subbed in Kinnikinnick GF Graham Style Crumbs and gf Jules All Purpose Flour. The only way that my friends knew it was gluten free was by watching me eat it. I paired with the berry sauce. This recipe is a keeper! Thank you for yet another hit, Jenn!

    • — Jill on September 27, 2018
    • Reply
  • I’ve made these many times and they are always a big hit! With fall upon us, I would love to be able to make pumpkin cheesecake bars. Any suggestions on how to go about doing that? Thank you!

    • — Marianne on September 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Marianne, glad you like these! I’d actually use this recipe if you want to go the pumpkin route. You’ll need to cut the recipe in half (and I’d still use a water bath to minimize the chance of cracking). I’d love to hear how they turn out if you try them!

      • — Jenn on September 25, 2018
      • Reply
  • WOW! Really terrific cheesecake. We made the crust with chocolate cookie crumbs and added mini chips to the batter. So so good! We would like to try adding strawberry purée swirl – do you think that would work, and if so, how do you do it? Maybe purée fresh strawberries and swirl into the batter? Your expertise is always spot on! Thanks again for sharing your wonderful recipe!

    • — Kathy Koch on September 12, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, so glad you enjoyed these! Because cheesecake can be a bit finicky, I’d avoid changing the balance of the recipe by adding pureed strawberries, Instead, I’d suggest spreading it on top of the bars. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on September 13, 2018
      • Reply
  • These are very tasty. More flavor after sitting overnight. Will make again. Thanks for the temp for testing for doneness. Prevents overbaking. Will make again!

    Texas Baker

    • — Sharon on September 3, 2018
    • Reply
  • Could I double this for a 9×13 pan?

    • — Alexandra Robertson on August 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Yes, Alexandra, that will work — the baking time may be a little different so just keep an eye on them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on August 26, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen!
    Would it still turn out without the lemon? I just don’t care for lemon flavor. I made your boy bait and it got good reviews however all I tasted was lemon. It’s just me, I know but wondering if anything will be sacrificed if I leave it out? Thanks

    By the way…loooove your cookbook.

    • — Julie on August 19, 2018
    • Reply
    • Totally fine to leave it out, Julie — and so glad you like the book! 😊

      • — Jenn on August 19, 2018
      • Reply
  • Wow, these were so good! I made them to take to a friend’s shiva and they were the hit of the four items I baked. Everyone raved about them, saying they were the best cheesecake ever! Even Mr. Fussy, my husband, couldn’t get enough of them. I cut them small and kept half the batch for him. I repinned onto my favorite sweets board, too. (Thanks for giving us the temp to check if they are done. Love that tip!)

    • — Marlene on July 20, 2018
    • Reply
  • Delicious! I cut the sugar to 2/3 c, subbed Greek yogurt for the sour cream, and beat the egg whites separately from the yolks, then folded them back into the batter at the end to create a lighter treat. The cheesecake ended up cracking a lot (should’ve added a few tb water to the whites while beating), but it tasted great – thanks for the recipe!

    • — Lisa on June 28, 2018
    • Reply
    • Lisa, it seems to me that you did not make Jenn’s recipe. Why then are you rating her recipe at only 4 stars? Please rate *her* recipe, not yours, if you choose to comment in the future. Obviously, we all make subs and changes at times, but if you do that, make your changes, comment on them, but don’t leave a star rating.

      • — Sue S on August 30, 2018
      • Reply
  • Made these the night before a cookout and everyone loved them. I served with fresh strawberries and blueberries. I thought the amount of vanilla used seemed like it would be too much but I added the amount called for and it was perfect. Easy and delicious!

    • — Karen Fordyce on June 28, 2018
    • Reply
  • This recipe sounds delicious and I am making it for Teacher Appreciation Day.
    I would like to double the recipe. Should I double all ingredients? I also read another reviewer’s advice about using a 9×13 pan and baking for 45 minutes. Anything else I should take into consideration when doubling this?

    • — Ronna on May 30, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Ronna, Yes, you would double all the ingredients. The only other thing to keep in mind is that baking time may be a little different so just keep an eye on them. Hope the teachers enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 30, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jennifer, to make this cheesecake bar filling gluten free would it be ok to use gluten free cornflour or flour instead of the regular flour?

    • — Karen Firth on May 23, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Karen, that will work. (Keep in mind though that the graham crackers in the crust have gluten; unless you have a gluten-free version.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 23, 2018
      • Reply
  • My oldest daughter has an insatiable sweet tooth, so I surprised her with these bars on her most recent trip home from Manhattan. She adored them and is taking a container back. Hard to compete with NY cheesecake, but this recipe succeeds! Thank you 🙂

    • — Corrina on April 15, 2018
    • Reply
  • Made three trays of these cheesecake squares in mini-cheesecake form. Used aluminum paper lined cupcake cups and added cherry pie filling to the tops. these were terrific, looked oh so cute, and were devoured. Great recipe for party dessert.

    • — l pruden on April 12, 2018
    • Reply
  • Can I use a lime instead? If so, would I still use vanilla?
    Thanks,

    • — Dawn Keefe on March 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Sure, Dawn, you can use lime instead (and I’d still include the vanilla). Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 14, 2018
      • Reply
  • Thanks Jennifer!!
    These are so easy and such a great knockoff for traditional NY style cheesecake. We added a bit more lemon zest but that was it. Perfect and stand back there will be a run to the kitchen for this treat!

    • — Shari on March 5, 2018
    • Reply
  • Good dessert, especially to finish off a casual lunch or dinner. The bars freeze very well so I try to keep a batch in the freezer for unexpected guests/visitors.

    • — Ellie on March 1, 2018
    • Reply
  • I made these for Christmas Eve and they were such a hit I am making them again to bring to the Super Bowl party on Sunday. They are perfection and I like having a small square instead of a big piece of cheesecake.

    • — Trudy Black on February 2, 2018
    • Reply
    • Trudy,

      I was wondering what to bring tomorrow for Superbowl Sunday, read your post, and the search was over, I’ll let you know how it turned out! Go Eagles!!! I always root for the underdogs, even though Brady and I went to the same high school:)

      • — Jessica on February 3, 2018
      • Reply
  • I recently made the cheesecake bars they were delicious and very popular at supper after a meeting

    • — Patricia Le Plastrier on February 2, 2018
    • Reply
  • Can coconut sugar be substituted instead of the granulated sugar listed in the recipe?

    • — Margaret Brown on January 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Margaret, I’ve never used coconut sugar so I can’t say for sure, but I’d be reluctant to make changes to this recipe because cheesecake can be pretty finicky – sorry!

      • — Jenn on January 25, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hello Jenn,
    I enjoy your recipes tremendously. Do you have any suggestions on how to make these bars Chocolat-y?
    Thank you

    • — PC on January 20, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi PC, you could use chocolate graham cracker crumbs to make a chocolate crust and could add mini chocolate chips to the filling. I wouldn’t fuss with it other than that, as cheesecake is pretty finicky. Hope that helps (and I’d love to hear how it turns out if you make any tweaks)!

      • — Jenn on January 23, 2018
      • Reply
  • These are some of the best cheescake desserts I have ever made or eaten! They are so satisfying and everyone who tries them loves it. I substituted the lemon juice and zest for lime the last time I made and they were also fantastic. Gives it a nice subtle flavor if you want to mix up the original lemon flavor. Great recipe!

    • — Madi on December 6, 2017
    • Reply
  • I made these for Thanksgiving and they were a big hit. I didn’t make any changes and will be making them again soon. Love them.

    • — Donna Lambie on December 1, 2017
    • Reply
  • A cheesecake lover, I was skeptical about the concept of bars, but these are fantastic (fits right in with the other wonderful recipes on this site). I used Meyer lemons (a more mild lemon-tangerine cross) and used 2t. Managed to spirit a couple to freeze, and worked great nestled in parchment in a plastic container.

    • — Lauren Brimmer on November 30, 2017
    • Reply
  • I loved this great basic recipe for cheesecake bars. For a more holiday treat, I substituted a half cup of ginger snap cookie crumbs for some of the graham cracker crumbs and rather than using lemon zest and juice, merely added a teaspoon of nutmeg to make an egg nog cheesecake bar. Very versatile recipe!

    • — Alyse on November 30, 2017
    • Reply
  • These are delicious! I made them for a party and they were the hit of the dessert table. Thank you!

    • — Donna on November 20, 2017
    • Reply
  • These are fantastic. Any suggestions on the best way to double the recipe in terms of pan size and baking time? Also, I’m bringing these to a dinner party, what is the best way to transport these? Would you cut them up just before serving?

    • — Adina on November 8, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Adina, glad you like them! I would suggest a 9 x 13-inch baking dish if you want to double these. The baking time may be a little different so just keep an eye on them. In terms of transporting them to a party, you could cut them up either at home or at your destination; whatever is easiest for you. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on November 8, 2017
      • Reply
      • Hi, Jenn. I just made these cheesecake bars, doubling the recipe in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish as you recommended. I baked them for 45 minutes and they came out perfectly. Just wanted to let you (and your fellow bakers) know!

        • — Elyse on May 5, 2018
        • Reply
        • Thanks so much for the follow-up, Elyse — glad they turned out well!

          • — Jenn on May 6, 2018
          • Reply
  • Another 5 Star dish! I made this last night, chilled it overnight, and brought to my office to share. I also chilled a can of cherry pie filling and before I left the house I piled it on top of the dessert. It was superb!!! Co-workers asked for your website.

    Keep them coming Jen. You are turning me into a cooking super star 🙂

    • — Anna B. on November 3, 2017
    • Reply
  • Hi love the recipe! Question can I freeze these?

    • — Jean on October 25, 2017
    • Reply
    • Glad you like these! Yes, they freeze nicely.

      • — Jenn on October 25, 2017
      • Reply
  • I just made these but used limes instead of lemons. Absolutely delicious.

    • — Erny sterling on September 18, 2017
    • Reply
  • I do not like measuring butter. What is the trick to accurately measuring 5 Tbsps of butter? Can I melt it first? Thanks Jenn!

    • — Delada on September 17, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Delada, In the States, the measurements are marked on the butter wrapper. You can melt first if your butter isn’t packaged the same way.

      • — Jenn on September 18, 2017
      • Reply
      • Perfect, thank you Jenn. I find my crusts are generally too hard or too crumbly. Melting first will work.

        • — Delada on September 18, 2017
        • Reply
  • These turned out beautifully! I used cinnamon graham crackers and subbed Greek yogurt for sour cream since I didn’t have sour cream on hand. The crust was to die for!

    • — Jacy on September 14, 2017
    • Reply
  • I made these for a party and everyone loved them. They were gone in minutes. One idea I had for next time was maybe add some cherry pie filling on top after they have cooled down. Definitely 5 stars!

    • — Rich on September 14, 2017
    • Reply
  • Made these cheesecake squares and they were delicious. Super easy also.

    • — Patti on September 14, 2017
    • Reply
  • I made these for my family and they were devoured! They were easy to make and delicious. My husband loved the lemon flavor. The zest gave it a small burst of lemon flavor but not overpowering. I loved the graham cracker crust.

    • — Pat Militello on September 14, 2017
    • Reply
  • This sounds wonderful & easy. How would I change to make it a pumpkin cheesecake bar? How much plain unsweetened canned pumpkin would I add? Would I decrease any other ingredient? I can figure out the spicing. Thanks!

    • Hi Ruth, I’d use my pumpkin cheesecake recipe as a guide, although you can reduce the amount of filling by about half.

      • — Jenn on September 14, 2017
      • Reply
      • Thanks. I had not seen your pumpkin cheesecake recipe. It sounds great too.

        • — Ruth on September 14, 2017
        • Reply
  • Aloha Jen
    What size pan do you recommend?
    Mahalo Susan

    • — Susan Wakefield-David on September 11, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Susan, I use an 8 x 8-inch pan. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 11, 2017
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn My 8″ pan is dark metal not glass. What adjustments, if any, do I make to temp and baking time. These look delicious and am anxious to make them. Thanks for all the great recipes.

    • — Sharon on September 9, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Sharon, you shouldn’t need to make any adjustments to the temp or baking time; just keep your eye on them. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 10, 2017
      • Reply
  • How can I make this in a 9×13 pan?

    • — Eleanor LePage on September 8, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Eleanor, you would need to double the recipe if you plan to use a 9 x 13-inch pan. The baking time may be a little different, so keep an eye on them. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 8, 2017
      • Reply
  • Can these be frozen after baking?

    • — Alison Bothwell Brown on September 7, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Alison, Yes they freeze well. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 7, 2017
      • Reply
      • thanks – I made a gluten free version of this for work and it was devoured by both GF and non GF people. They loved it – all gone within minutes. Excellent recipe. Thank you!

        • — Alison on September 14, 2017
        • Reply
  • According to my family, these were a 10 out of 10! The brown sugar crust was to die for. Can’t wait for an excuse to make them again!

    • — Kathy H. on September 5, 2017
    • Reply
  • I can’t wait to try these…what other desserts freeze well? Thanks in advance.

    • — Wendy Schoenburg on September 4, 2017
    • Reply
  • What oven temp?? (Cheesecake bars)

    • — Ann Cowart on September 3, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, the crust gets baked at 375°F. After you remove the crust from the oven, reduce the oven temp to 325°F to bake once the batter has been added.

      • — Jenn on September 4, 2017
      • Reply
  • I never seem to press the the crust correctly.
    Either too solid or not enough. Question:
    How hard to press to get right results? Mine are like a rock or doesn’t hold together .

    • Hi Terry, For this recipe, you want to press it as firmly as possible. It shouldn’t be like a rock b/c of all the butter and sugar.

      • — Jenn on September 3, 2017
      • Reply
  • Jenn, when turning down the oven temp after baking the crust, can the bars be put in immediately? Or does the oven temp need time to cool some? Looking forward to trying these, they look delish! Jan

    • — Jan on September 2, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Jan, I’d let the oven temp come down to 325 before putting the bars in the oven just to be safe. Hope you enjoy them!

      • — Jenn on September 2, 2017
      • Reply
  • When baking, is there much difference between a non-stick cooking spray and a spray specifically made for baking, which I’ve always used. This probably sounds like a stupid question, but they are slightly different and I just want to be sure. Thanks.

    • — Joan Barmish on September 1, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Joan, If the spray is specifically for baking it may have some flour added to it (like this one from Baker’s Joy), with makes it similar to greasing and flouring your pan. I do think it’s a great option for baking.

      • — Jenn on September 3, 2017
      • Reply
  • If I am using a glass baking dish would I reduce temps by 25 degrees? I can’t wait to try this…I love all your recipes.

    • — Wendy Schoenburg on August 31, 2017
    • Reply
    • Hi Wendy, I used a glass dish for these so I’d just follow the instructions as is. Hope you enjoy and please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on August 31, 2017
      • Reply
      • After the first time, I started using a 13 x9 rectangle glass dish, they go so fast, but other than that I would not change a thing, and I’m making them for superbowl day.
        Denise, February, 2018

        • — Denise Koellisch on February 3, 2018
        • Reply

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