Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chili Chocolate Pavlova

Kiwi's are proud of their Pavlova, their baked meringue dessert. They claim to have invented it but for my money, they should let Australia take credit, because they are invariably oversweetened to the point of making my teeth hurt. The things are in stores everywhere and even our kayak guide brought one along, 'lovingly' accented with canned fruit cocktail. It was a perfect compliment to my chicken sandwich, the one labeled 'vegetarian.' Okay, maybe the chickens were vegetarian.

I made eight of these little desserts in Queenstown after I found my yoga friend Peggy. QT is where people do all the adrenaline sports, or at least where they were pioneered. Peggy's trying to balance all the hyperactivity by teaching yoga at her new project, Studio Sangha.

When I arrived, she was living in the master bedroom of a luxury executive home on a hill with a view of the mountains and lake, one she was renting from Liz, the owner. Peggy and Liz were gathering some friends for dinner and since this was my first time in months to play in a fully decked kitchen, I agreed to make dessert.

I planned to make my famous-in-yoga-school chili chocolate cake, but an egg failure meant I had to modify the recipe. In this case, I cut way back on the chocolate and, sans springform pan, made what became fluffy little cakes using a muffin tin. Then I decorated them with just-picked cherries, mint from Liz's garden, a dollop of whipped cream and a chocolate drizzle.

The labor paid off. The treats were delicious and not too sweet. Liz and her friends were suitably impressed, one of whom offering me 'any kind of woman you want'. Apparently middle-aged men who are skilled beyond the barbecue are in high demand. Alas, I thanked her for the generous offer, then did the dishes. I've long said that if there is one room a man must be confident in, it is the kitchen.

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