Cinnamon-Raisin Coconut Rice Pudding

April 6, 2015
Cinnamon Raisin Coconut Rice Pudding - An perfect rice pudding. With cinnamon and raisins .. it's rich, creamy, and delicious .. whether served warm or cold

I've come to believe that, whether you're 4 or 44, when you're not feeling well,

Sick Dog

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nothing tastes better than the kind of comfort food only your Mom can make

Mine travels for work about as often as I get sick. Though as fate would have it, a week ago today, she hopped a plane in the morning, settling into her hotel room; at about the same time my husband was checking me into the ER that evening. A few days later .. when I was both hungry .. and able to keep something down, the only thing I craved?

Her rice pudding

No need for alarm. “Loves, will you please stop by the co-op and pick some up before you come to visit?”   They were out(!)  For days

How about the cafeteria?  Tapioca, chocolate?  Nope, no rice


Cinnamon Raisin Coconut Rice Pudding - An perfect rice pudding. With cinnamon and raisins .. it's rich, creamy, and delicious .. whether served warm or cold

The cool thing about this humble comfort food in a bowl? This simple pudding that evokes the warmest feelings of nostalgia? While it uses the most basic of ingredients (milk, rice, and sugar), there are as many versions as there are Mothers who stir it up; rarely are any two alike

Over the years, she's sent me her recipe. I've given it several tries; mine never turns out quite the same. She would say, “no,”  I would say “yes” to the fact that there's something truly magical about her technique.

Would it be possible to find my own way? A process that would work for me, with an end result as good as hers? A reliable back-up for the moments in life, when only comfort food would do?

The night I came home from the hospital, after a long shower (which felt like heaven!), I put on my favorite pajamas, climbed into bed, and Googled “Rice Pudding Recipes”

Rice Pudding 4-1-650x

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A few fun facts from history:  In Flemish and Dutch folklore, heaven is a place where you eat rice pudding every day with a golden spoon.

Looking back to Roman times, it was considered to be medicine, a cure for upset tummies. It's said that Buddha's final meal before his enlightenment was a large bowl of rice pudding prepared for him by a beautiful girl named Sujata

Interestingly enough rice pudding varies widely, depending on one's country and culture. A few examples?  Many types of sweetened milk can form the base (ex: goat, cow, sheep, reindeer), spices (ex:  nutmeg, mace, and cinnamon), and additional flavorings (ex: rose-water, vanilla, orange, and lemon peel)

There are variations on texture and cooking methods: stove-top vs. oven. Stove-top, it seems, produces a much creamier texture; as opposed to those that are baked, which tend to be firmer. In some cases, eggs are included to thicken the pudding, anywhere from a whole egg, to just the yolks.

Beyond oven vs. stove-top, other techniques for cooking the rice varied as well.  Some recipes called for parboiling, others added it dry, along with the rest of the ingredients.

Of course, there were the fundamental questions around which rice to use: long or short grain white rice, basmati, or jasmine. The difference? It seems long and medium grains produce puddings that are slightly drier and chewier than those made with short grain

Who knew this was all such a science?

Cinnamon Raisin Coconut Rice Pudding - An perfect rice pudding. With cinnamon and raisins .. it's rich, creamy, and delicious .. whether served warm or cold

After a few hours of being lost in recipes and articles, I was able to really think about, and clarify the qualities that make hers special

It's a homey and soft rice pudding, gently sweet and plain, in the nicest sort of way. Instead of sugar or fancy flavorings, it tastes like sweet cooked milk and pure vanilla. It's loose, not soupy, cohesive, and not gloppy. Absolutely delicious, whether eaten lukewarm or cold.

The texture is perfect as is, although sometimes I'll stir in an extra half cup or so of milk, to loosen it just a bit. Though I'm a rice pudding purest, she has taught me to love raisins in mine.  (If one want to get fancy, soak them in brandy.  If not water will do just fine)

Depending on the recipe, they'll include whole milk, cream, half-and-half, or any combination of the three.  After experimenting, discovering that I much preferred those made with milk, which reduced and sweetened the pudding as it cooked.  I did substitute about a third of the milk with coconut milk, which seemed a happy medium.  Anything richer didn't seem to fit the spirit.



ps:  Read more about the history of rice pudding .. here

~ Adapted from Cook's Country

Cinnamon-Raisin Coconut Rice Pudding


  • 3 ¾ cups whole milk + ½ cup for serving
  • 1 ¾ coconut milk, canned
  • ½ cup natural sugar
  • ¾ tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup water (or brandy or whiskey)
  • ½ cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla


  • Combine raisins and water in a bowl, let sit until softened.
  • Meanwhile, combine milk, coconut milk, coconut sugar, and sea salt, and cinnamon stick salt in large saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently
  • Stir in rice and reduce heat to low. Cook, keeping an eye on and adjusting the heat in order to maintain a gentle simmer.
  • Stir occasionally to prevent scorching, until rice is soft and the pudding has thickened to the consistency of yogurt, 50 to 70 minutes.
  • Stir in vanilla. Discard Cinnamon stick
  • Transfer pudding to a large bowl, stir in raisins, and let cool completely about 2 hours, or let cool and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours longer.
  • Just before serving, stir in remaining ½ cup milk.
  • Top with a pinch of cinnamon, or nutmeg
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 270
Total Fat 6.4g
Saturated Fat 4g
Carbohydrates 46.3g
Fiber 0.7g
Sugars 31.8g
Protein 6.4g
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  • Reply Ellie October 20, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I am always shocked at people who get their rice pudding to cook in under a few hours. Man alive, I stand at the stove for hours, stirring and stirring and stirring and, well, you get the idea. I get rave reviews, of course, but I’m always like, “Dude, you better enjoy it, because I’m not doing it for another year!” I might need to try some of your tricks.

  • Reply Chubskulit January 27, 2016 at 11:55 am

    I never thought much of rice pudding until I tasted my friend Livia’s recipe, which she learned to make growing up in Peru. So creamy, so comforting, so delicious. Her secret is 3 milks- fresh milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk (no water). Who knew rice and milk could turn into such a lovely dessert?

  • Reply Esme Sy February 1, 2016 at 3:52 am

    5 stars
    Thanks Ali! Loved this recipe. Made it last night for dessert, had a bit with breakfast, and it’s still singing to me from the refrigerator this afternoon… Love the citrus undertones. Perfect comfort food for a snowy/slushy end of Feb.!

  • Reply Jana March 5, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    HMMMMM! When I was little, I used to ask my mother to make rice pudding instead of a birthday cake so you can imagine my excitement when I saw this recipe. I’m all over it! Thanks.

  • Reply Danielle March 9, 2016 at 3:21 am

    Wow. Clearly, I am not the only one obsessed with good rice pudding. I love this site and now I love it even more. Me, my unborn baby and my tummy thank you!!

  • Reply Ana March 19, 2016 at 12:22 am

    5 stars
    The Dominican woman who ran the Italian restaurant I worked at (don’t ask!) made the best rice pudding and she did the coconut milk thing -hers was in huge industrial-sized amounts so thank you so much for this normal portion recipe to recreate that flavor!

  • Reply Mohit May 22, 2016 at 5:01 am

    My mom was born in a small village in Cantabria, Spain. Her mother’s version used short-grain rice, but no raisins [God forbid] and no sal, nor vanilla, just cinnamon sticks and a piece of lemon rind or two. It was slow, slow, low heat cooking. It’s been 5 years now, and I sure miss it. One of my all-time favorite meals

  • Reply Joanie December 15, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    5 stars
    I only had skim milk so I tried making this with that. I needed to cook it a bit longer but it still tasted lovely. Thank you, Ali!

  • Reply Liz February 5, 2017 at 12:00 am

    The five neighbor kids came over this afternoon for iced tea. One opened the fridge and yelled “SHE MADE RICE PUDDING WITH RAISINS”. They all asked for some, and it got rave reviews. One child said I did a good job this time. Another child said “everything she cooks and bakes is good” They may not be judges on the Food Network, but the children’s comments mean more.

  • Reply Kristina February 6, 2017 at 1:04 am

    I can not (underlined) wait to make this. We’ve been talking about making a big batch of rice pudding for weeks – this is a sign! Thank you!

  • Reply Elisha February 6, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Yummmmm….I’ve been thinking about rice pudding, and now you’ve got me absolutely craving it. I usually make mine with leftover rice, but this looks excellent. I have some wonderful cinnamon in my pantry that I need to use – seems like the perfect fit.

  • Reply Sayanti March 30, 2017 at 1:40 am

    5 stars
    Mmmm, just made this last night. SO good! Otherwise, I followed your recipe to a T, although I did leave it on a lot longer because I wanted it thick. Thankfully we’re going to visit friends tonight who like rice pudding – hubby doesn’t like it and I just know that the kids and I would eat the entire batch in the next two days if we didn’t’s just that good. And boy, did it make my house smell lovely! I think when I want a nice smell in my house in the future, I’ll try the big peels of orange zest, cloves and cinnamon sticks in some water on the stove. Yummy!

  • Reply Wendy Lemeric June 8, 2017 at 8:12 pm

    So funny to read this today after making rice pudding (risgrynsgröt) last night. I make it Swedish style, 1 part rice, 2 parts water, 4 parts milk with a cinnamon stick, a dash of salt and sugar to taste. they eat it with milk or jam on top for breakfast, a snack or dessert. I don’t mess with the recipe much, varying the flavor by the jams, but I really like the idea of coconut milk!

  • Reply Holly June 19, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    5 stars
    Made it – loved it – definitely the new go-to, which is saying something after a good 8 years of looking for a really, really good rice pudding recipe. I threw in a couple of star anise pods, just cause they were lying there next to the cinnamon sticks, and it was nice. seriously good stuff.

  • Reply Sherry July 18, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    As soon as I saw your suggestion for coconut milk, had to add this one: coconut milk & black rice – there’s a nuttier quality to the “pudding” and it’s good for those ppl who complain of the rice’s softness. 🙂

  • Reply Candy August 7, 2017 at 6:37 am

    Oh delicious! Rice Pudding was a family tradition, but no one can replicate it. I must try this!

  • Reply Angela September 25, 2017 at 12:43 am

    5 stars
    Made this last night and all I can say is yum! My Greek boyfriend says it is just like his mother’s (as required he did say hers is a little better). This was my first time making it with coconut milk and it was so creamy and delicious!

  • Reply Julie October 10, 2017 at 2:26 am

    5 stars
    I love, love, LOVE rice pudding, and my all-time, hands-down, never-fail recipe came from the cookbook “All Butter, Fresh Cream, Sugar-Packed Baking Book” by Judy Rosenberg. The book is fabulous and everything I have ever made from it was wonderful, so although I thought it was odd that a rice pudding recipe was mixed in with all of the cookies and brownies, I trusted her. Wow. Just Wow!! It has become my go-to comfort food gift. My friends agree that one should not be left alone with it because it just calls to you from the refrigerator.
    All that being said, I have also never had anything but triumph from your recipes so now I might have to cheat on Judy and try this one.

  • Reply Erin November 12, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    5 stars
    I learned to make Arroz con leche during a summer when I lived, nearly by accident, in a farm community in Costa Rica. I was chastised by the local ladies for not knowing how to make rice properly, by feel and eye not by measuring cup and timer. And once I mastered rice, I had to learn Arroz con leche. We used the cones of dulche, and we cooked the rice in milk with frequent stirring to make it thick and creamy, almost like risotto technique. I’ve never been able to make it the same since coming home, but from time to time I get up the gumption to try again. You may just have given me an excuse.

  • Reply Betty December 4, 2017 at 9:02 am

    I love rice pudding as a middle of winter comfort dessert, although I think I will make this with arborio rice. I seem to have acquired a glut of it and cannot make risotto fast enough (for 2 people a single batch of risotto is a week’s worth of food)

  • Reply Farya January 4, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    4 stars
    Finally a use for that coconut milk in my pantry! Plus, I absolutely LOVE rice pudding. And I’m pregnant, so I must have everything I see on the internet when it comes to food 🙂 So thank you!

  • Reply Karin February 18, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Rice pudding is close to my heart; my vovo (Portuguese grandmother) made rice pudding for every holiday.

  • Reply Ivan Jose February 28, 2018 at 8:56 am

    Oh heck yes. One of my all-time favorite desserts.

  • Reply Patrice April 2, 2018 at 5:51 am

    In college, I use to eat leftover rice with sugar and milk. I’ll have to try this grown-up version.

    Love Patrice x

  • Reply Nita Okoye April 21, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    5 stars
    Just had to comment to say that I made this last night…..and it is absolute heaven! So creamy. Very hard to stop eating!!

  • Reply Nichola May 21, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Mmmm – love any sort of rice pudding. Such comfort food and very versatile! This is great for a family dessert or tarted up for guests! Thanks.

  • Reply Talya May 21, 2018 at 11:31 am

    Your rice pudding looks delicious. I made some once that I was happy with, but what I really want to make is chocolate short grain rice pudding like I had a couple years ago at Rice to Riches on a visit to NYC. Any ideas?

  • Reply Eboni Dixon May 21, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Theoretically, if you were out of vanilla extract, but had a pound of vanilla beans in your pantry, how would you go about adding their scent to the pot? Would you steep the whole bean, or scrape out the seeds? I am torn :/

  • Reply Sarah Bailey May 21, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    I am so with you on this – when I’m feeling ill all I want is my Mum and some mashed banana and ice cream like only she can do!

    It has been years since I’ve had rice pudding but I totally want to try your recipe now.

  • Reply Laura Dove May 21, 2018 at 4:06 pm

    5 stars
    My mum is the first person I ring when I am poorly, nobody makes my mums chicken soup the way she does! Ive never liked rice pudding but this does look good, my kids go crazy for it!

  • Reply Lindsay May 21, 2018 at 10:05 pm

    5 stars
    I just love your storytelling, and the recipes too! Yes, there is nothing better than a traditional “mom” special—so comforting and soothing. Hope you feel better soon!

  • Reply Tina May 21, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    This recipe looks so good! The mix of cinnamon, raisins, and coconut is such a great combination. We definitely need to try to make it soon.

  • Reply Rhian May 22, 2018 at 12:46 am

    I totally agree there’s nothing like your mums home cooked comfort food to make you feel better x

  • Reply Melanie May 22, 2018 at 5:46 am

    I do love a good bowl of rice pudding. The cinnamon would smell amazing x

  • Reply Czjai Reyes-Ocampo May 22, 2018 at 6:27 am

    This reminds me of the rice porridge that my great grandmother used to make whenever I or my siblings get sick. I bet this dish smells heavenly, with the cinnamon and all.

  • Reply Janet May 22, 2018 at 6:33 am

    When I have stomach issues I often turn to rice pudding for breakfast. Will be pinning this to save and I wonder if you can substitute coconut milk?

    • Reply Sarah Bailey May 22, 2018 at 8:07 am

      Ohh I’ve never thought of having it for breakfast when you have stomach issues interesting idea thank you.

  • Reply Iya - Louisa May 22, 2018 at 6:38 am

    5 stars
    This sounds like a great recipe! I have never actually had rice pudding before aha so I might try it first before I make it!

  • Reply Amber Myers May 22, 2018 at 7:13 am

    5 stars
    Ooo yes please. See, for my kids, comfort food from me is a bag from McDonald’s. Oops. I guess I can make a mean bowl of spaghetti too. So there’s that. This pudding has all sorts of tasty flavors going on. I can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply Alli Smith May 22, 2018 at 7:26 am

    5 stars
    I didn’t grow up eating rice pudding. I don’t think it’s a southern thing so I’m intrigued by your recipe and I have to try it. I’m a raisin lover so I’ll definitely include them when I try this recipe.

  • Reply Jeanette May 22, 2018 at 7:29 am

    I agree! Nothing makes me feel better fast than the love of my mom! I think we all want our mom no matter what our age is! This rice pudding would be a great one to try!

  • Reply Megan May 22, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Just wanted to tell you how much I love reading your recipes – your writing is delightful and your recipes are approachable without being “easy.

  • Reply Renata May 22, 2018 at 7:48 am

    I know rice pudding (also) from the Turkish and Middle East cuisine where it’s really good. Interesting that you are using long rice, here in Europe you can buy special round rice – called ‘mild rice’ – that gets a bit creamier.
    The dish you are serving it in looks a bit oriental and gives it this ‘exotic’ touch.
    And by the way – even before I’ve read the story, my first thought was ‘comfort food’.

  • Reply Kelly May 22, 2018 at 8:41 am

    5 stars
    The best comfort food. I love it simple, cinnamon, sugar, milk, rice and cooked for one hour.

  • Reply Melissa May 22, 2018 at 9:08 am

    4 stars
    We love rice pudding but never tried to make it until now. I will try this with the coconut and cinnamon stick it sounds so good.

  • Reply Dana May 22, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Oh rice pudding is delicious! I’ll have to make this! thank you for the recipe!!! So excited to try it!

  • Reply Tasheena May 22, 2018 at 9:47 am

    5 stars
    This is the perfect comfort food recipe. Especially for the cooler weather that we’re having today, it really would be perfect.

  • Reply Kristy Bullard May 22, 2018 at 10:00 am

    5 stars
    I love rice pudding and raisins! I agree – rice pudding is the ultimate comfort food. It is sweet and filling and takes me back to being a kid again.

  • Reply Peter May 22, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Okay, sign this guy up! I love myself a fantastic bowl of pudding and this looks superb! I love the addition of coconut milk. What a great flavour

  • Reply Gladys Parker May 22, 2018 at 10:14 am

    5 stars
    I love rice pudding. My mother use to make it often. This one with cinnamon and coconut sounds delicious. I’ll have to give it a try.

  • Reply Franc May 22, 2018 at 11:13 am

    5 stars
    Cinnamon, Raisins, Coconut mixed in a pudding looks like a great dessert. This looks so special and just the right amount of sweet and tasty.

  • Reply Elizabeth O May 22, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    5 stars
    What a lovely tale this was to read, it was lovely to hear about the significance of this rice pudding to you and how your mother’s recipe is always the best one. There is so much comfort in ones mother I find. It looks like a delicious dish indeed.

  • Reply Val May 22, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    5 stars
    My Dad loves rice pudding. Your post reminded me of how my Dad made yummy Swedish meatballs for years. He guarded the recipe. I have tried to make them myself from recipes on the web and they’re not the same.

  • Reply Mama May 22, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Mmmmmmmm. This looks delicious! I remember cooking with my grandmothers when I was little. Then we moved away and I couldn’t do that anymore. 🙁

  • Reply Marysa May 22, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    I haven’t had rice pudding in a while, and it is a nice refreshing treat. I like what you did with your recipe. I have never made my own rice pudding, but it sounds doable and something that I could do myself.

  • Reply Melanie May 22, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    5 stars
    I make a rice pudding during the holidays, but I’ve not made one any other time of the year. This one sounds like it would be tasty for breakfast. The cinnamon and raisin combination would be perfect to start off the day!

  • Reply Evelyn May 22, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    5 stars
    This looks absolutely delicious! What a great start to a productive day. Love the recipe ???

  • Reply Angie May 22, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    5 stars
    My Mama Dory absolutely loves rice pudding! That Cinnamon raisin coconut rice pudding sounds really yummy to eat! I will let her know about this recipe.

  • Reply Sigrid May 22, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    I love tapioca as well as rice pudding. They kind of remind me of something in my past. I love how some foods stir up feelings and memories in me. Even some aromas. 😀

  • Reply Melanie May 23, 2018 at 12:07 am

    You never outgrow your mama’s flavors. This rice pudding sounds like a great way to bring back the flavors of my childhood but in a new and fresh way. Can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply Ricci May 23, 2018 at 1:47 am

    You had me at coconut! LOL! I think this rice pudding recipe sounds delicious!!

  • Reply Lindsay May 23, 2018 at 4:27 am

    Oh my, that is hearty comfort food in a bowl! Yum, I wish I could eat it right now!

  • Reply Emily Leary May 23, 2018 at 5:48 am

    My mouth is watering just looking at your pic! I love rice pudding and I love cinnamon so this would be a perfect comfort food recipe!

  • Reply Amy May 23, 2018 at 8:06 am

    5 stars
    Sounds like such an art to make this humble comfort food and this is definitely what the doctor ordered when we are sick. Love the cinnamon flavour x

  • Reply Rachel May 23, 2018 at 9:43 am

    Awesome! Can’t wait to try this out. Rice pudding has always been a fave and so far, I’ve not been able to make it right (always came out..bizarre), but your directions sound simple enough. So thanks!

  • Reply Melanie May 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    5 stars
    Wow it’s interesting you craved that when you were ill. I make a soup with rice when my children are ill. I must try making the rice pudding for them and see what they think it sounds delicious.

  • Reply Rachel May 23, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    5 stars
    My boyfriend would love this recipe! One day he might be lucky and I’ll make it for him!

  • Reply Terri Beavers May 23, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    5 stars
    It is flooding here, like seriously flooding. It would be a good day to try to make this pudding. I don’t have any raisins though because my neighbor borrowed the last of mine yesterday. No one wants to get out and shop in this mess, lol. I might try it without raisins though.

  • Reply David Elliott May 23, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    5 stars
    I agree with you that sometimes the only things we can keep down in those difficult spots is comfort food. And Rice pudding is pretty delicious at that. Although my daughter doesn’t like the raisins unfortunately. It’s great today you can find so many different recipes to those dishes we love and crave all online. And I love that there is a food history as well a science behind it all. It’s probably why I’m such a big Alton Brown fan.

  • Reply Louise May 23, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    Do you know something … I’ve not had rice pudding since I was a kid! I can’t even remember what it tastes like. I think I’d like this version though as I’m a big fan of anything containing cinnamon. It’s delicious 🙂

    Louise x

  • Reply Blair May 24, 2018 at 4:55 am

    5 stars
    I would have this for breakfast and I will be a happy girl all day 🙂
    Plus brewed coffee please! Delicious 😀

  • Reply Lindsey May 24, 2018 at 8:55 am

    Unfortunately I am not a rice pudding lover, never have never will I think it is the texture. But weirdly I like the smell and my daughter loves it, so will make it for her for sure this bank holiday weekend.

  • Reply Kara May 24, 2018 at 11:35 am

    I am so with you on the fact that comfort food always makes me feel better., This recipe looks scrummy

  • Reply Mayuri Saxena May 24, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    5 stars
    Oh. My. Word. Made this today with skim milk (because that’s what we had in the house) and am having to restrain myself from eating the whole entire thing at once. It’s that good!

  • Reply Robin May 29, 2018 at 4:30 am

    Just read an earlier commenter’s request for a chocolate variation. I’ve kept a Nigella’s recipe from a magazine cutout since 2006 to try it out but haven’t got around to making it. It’s made with cocoa powder, milk, vanilla, arborio rice and a bit of sugar. The photo attached to the recipe looks fab, I’ve tried to locate it on the web the authentic recipe to link it for you but can’t locate it….I just know what it’s like when you fancy something….you just got to have it!

  • Reply Cindy May 29, 2018 at 10:11 am

    I love rice pudding. I grew up eating my British Honduras (now Belize) neighbor’s pudding. Can’t wait to try your recipe. I think I’ll substitute vanilla bean for the extract and put it in the beginning with the other spices. I don’t mind the black specks but love the flavor.

  • Reply Jennifer Prince June 5, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    5 stars
    Ooh! This is such a classic recipe. I remember my grandmother making puddings like this. So fun!

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