Mastercheat Cooking: Pavlova For Dummies

Pavlova For DummiesAre you a ‘mum who can’t?’ like me.

Cook, that is.

Don’t worry, help is at hand in this, my Mastercheat series of recipes. You might remember my first recipe which was for Chocolate Refrigerator Cake here.

Well this week’s recipe is another dessert and it’s a corker – I call it my Pavlova for Dummies.

But first, here’s some background info on why I’m such a shit cook and need to cheat with desserts in particular. Then I’ll tell you about how I test-ran this meringue-baby just last weekend.

You see, over the past twelve months I have been forced to watch the old man shed a few kilos whilst goading me daily with his newly toned, sexy physique (his words).

What can I say? Marriage is hard enough without your husband losing weight, especially in the unorthodox way he has done it.

And the changes to his body have caused him to behave in quite a peculiar fashion, particularly when he has his shirt off. He has this tendency to thrust his hairy, middle-aged chest out into my face first thing in the morning and say things like ‘just look at this body, Lou’.

He seems to have forgotten that ‘running’ actually does very little for your pecs and that sadly for me, I’m still faced with the same impressive set of man boobs and belly button fluff that I’ve been staring at for the past twenty-five years.

Another downside of his healthy eating plan is that he has completely sanctioned dessert in our house.

That is, for everyone but HIM. Because healthy eating to the old man still includes a minimum of five desserts per night.

He will brazenly deny that accusation, of course, because he doesn’t seem aware of what constitutes a dessert or how many times he opens the fridge door after dinner when he thinks we’re not looking.

And admittedly, you do need to be fairly creative to find sugar in our house.

Primarily due to Kurt’s ADHD, which is exacerbated by the same passion for sugar as his father but which acts as a mind-altering substance on him, so I buy very little sweet stuff. And on the rare (nightly) occasions when we do need that sugar fix, we generally head down to the local Deli and pay double for a Mars bar in penance for our lack of self-discipline.

I, of course, do not need dessert, because in the interests of my health I have made a vow to replace it with wine fruit.

If he’s lucky the old man might score some fruit, out-of-date yoghurt, an old pot of custard and occasionally some stale cake on offer during his dessert raids, (usually left over from trying to impress guests or NC’s constant stream of student ‘FEED ME NOW’ friends), but there’s very little else.

Cooking With Wine
Cooking With Wine via Ana Salazar Valdes on Pinterest

The dessert games usually commence straight after dinner. His first course will be an apple, followed by a yoghurt ten minutes later. Half an hour later he will begin rooting around in the bowels of the fridge desperate to sate his sugar itch, which is where his creativity truly comes in. Custard is mixed with ice cream, stale cake combined with hundreds and thousands or sometimes those little silver balls from past birthday cake supplies and frosting. Sometimes he goes batshit crazy with frozen fruit, peanut butter, coco powder and jelly.

His ‘kill-me-now’ scenario is when there is absolutely nothing in the pantry apart from my emergency 85% dark chocolate, which he describes as cardboard yet still manages to demolish in one mouthful.

The point of this long diatribe is that the main reason I have had to develop the Mastercheat recipes was because I have a house full of food heathens who all have different palates and needs and so I rarely get the opportunity to be Jamie Oliver in the kitchen.

So when someone asks me to bring dessert to dinner, I tend to get a little strung out. Like last Saturday night.

Which is where my Pavlova for Dummies comes in.

The only good thing about being asked to bring dessert is that most people are shitfaced by the time you serve it and will forgive you a bit of culinary ‘cheating’. Admittedly, the designated drivers can be a bit problematic when they’ve waited all night for a sugar fix, but they’re obviously boring fuckers, so who really cares?

I should mention here also that the only ‘potential fail’ part of this Pav is that it does need to be erected on site, which at the BEGINNING of last Saturday night, didn’t seem like a problem.

Because I was busy getting caught up in the occasion – laughing at my own jokes, being as loud and obnoxious as you can be on bucket loads of white wine and nerves, (when your sugar-intake is coming directly from fermented grapes), and lapping up the accompanying smorgasbord of fabulous Indian nosh that our hostess had obviously lovingly prepared, (for what must have been a month at least).

So the Pav ingredients remained discreetly in my bag.

And understandably, the responsibility of dessert kind of passed me by until about 10.30pm when the old man gave me the look of ‘we need to get you out of here before we lose all our friends’ and we started bidding our farewells. Suddenly my friend pulled me aside and asked me where the dessert was….

‘What dessert?’ I remember thinking in my drunken haze, followed by a ‘FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!’.

Yet this very situation, dear friends, is exactly where the Pavlova For Dummies really comes into its own in Mastercheatery, because I kid you not, I got that baby on the table within five minutes flat.

So here is my gift to you. The recipe for:

Pavlova For Dummies

Ingredients:

Coles or Woolies Pavlova ready-made base

Cream

Manual whisk (plus strong, hot man) or something electrical that does the same job – I think I used a hand-held soup maker in my haste, but it worked

Bag of frozen fruit – that defrosts while you are drinking

Cut up strawberries and blueberries for authenticity

Tin of passion fruit puree if you want to look the biz

Icing Sugar if you REALLY want to look the biz

Method:

Take meringue base out of box as furtively as possible, then conceal the packaging immediately in the recycling bin.

Ask the closest and hottest, young male to whip cream for you. If he’s really hot, give him a manual whisk as it takes a lot longer. Ask him to spread the cream slowly and liberally over the base while you watch prepare the fruit.

Drain frozen fruit and dump on top of the cream.

Conceal frozen fruit with real fruit pieces where necessary.

Drizzle tinned passion fruit puree over the top.

Sift icing sugar over the top for the professional Mastercheat look.

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Two Orgasmic Chocolate Cake Recipes For Easter

I’m letting you in on a couple of culinary secrets of mine this Easter.

These two recipes are better than sex, and almost as good as shopping. So if you’re married and not getting any, or single and still not getting any, whip up either (or both) of these cakes and you’ll be sated.

These cakes are death by chocolate  –  close your eyes and imagine Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall, Daniel day Lewis in The Last Of The Mohicans, Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook, George Clooney in ER and you’ll be halfway towards the ecstasy created by these two truly orgasmic cake experiences.

With less than five ingredients per cake, these cakes are quick and easier to create than Vegemite on toast. Even I can make them, and I usually need an Idiot’s Guide to cook. (Remember my Lasagne Soup, and the inedible Asian Salad).

First up, I bring you my Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

200g dark chocolate

6 eggs (separated)

1 cup Caster sugar

200g butter

What to do:

Preheat oven to 180C.

Line the base of a large 26cm springform pan (no idea what this is, so I just use a ceramic dish). Melt the broken pieces of chocolate and butter in a glass bowl and melt over boiling water. Stir gently. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl with the sugar and then add to the melted chocolate. Beat the egg whites to stiff peak stage and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into lined dish and bake for approximately 45mins. This cake will fall dramatically back down when cooling and crack as above (something to do with no flour I guess). Ok, so it might be one of the ugliest cakes you’ve ever seen but it is f*cking good. Dust with cocoa powder. Stuff your face.

Secondly I bring you Chocolate Refrigerator Cake.

Chocolate Refrigerator Cake

Ingredients:

450g Chocolate (plain, milk or combo)

100g butter or margarine

225g chocolate digestive biscuits (broken into small pieces)

What to do:

Line and grease a square cake tin (18cm). Break chocolate into small pieces and place in basin with butter over a saucepan of hot water. Heat gently until melted. Break up biscuits. Mix chocolate and biscuits together and leave to cool. When cool, mark out twelve equal squares, (trust me, it’s a bugger to cut once refrigerated), and put in the fridge for an hour. Cut into squares and gorge and gorge and gorge…..

Admittedly, my presentation my photos don’t do justice to these cakes, but it’s what’s on the inside, ladies, isn’t it?

Below are some of the health reasons why you should all be stuffing your face on chocolate over the Easter holiday:

Apparently, a brain-active chemical called phenylethylamine in cocoa stimulates the same reaction that we experience when we’re falling in love.

One analysis of 850 mainly healthy participants found that flavanol-rich chocolate and cocoa products had a small but statistically significant effect in lowering blood pressure in the short term.

Research at Cambridge University found that people consuming the most chocolate had a 37% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke than those who consumed less chocolate.

The sweeter, less cocoa-rich bars, as a dairy-rich food help us keep our bones strong.

Spanish researchers studying rodents that were fed a diet containing 12% cocoa, found that it protected against the development of colon cancer.

(Mirror Online – Angela Dowden)

According to Louisa Simmonds, Chief Taster of Chocolate at The Lindt Virtual Chocolate Factory, ‘chocolate is the only addictive drug with the power to make the world seem f*cking fantastic without any detrimental mental side-effects.’

So celebrate chocolate this Easter, but don’t forget the true message of Easter….which is obviously beating last year’s record of how many cream eggs you can get down you in 24 hours.

Eat your heart out, Nigella.

“I never met a chocolate I didn’t like.” – Deanna Troi, Star Trek: The Next Generation