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Letting La Twit Loose

Never, ever, ever turn a young twit loose in a kitchen who claims she knows how to make a cheesecake, especially never when company is expected, particularly if that company is a VIP-such as the boss who is responsible for the roof over your head. La Twit convinced me that she had made perfect cheesecakes in Home Economics class and at Suzy Q's sleepover parties. So I capitulated to her sales pitch, a stream of positive statements not counting thoughts separated by ah, um, the "like" word, and her megawatt smile. In a word, I was bedazzled. First she went shopping, not for cheesecake ingredients, but for the perfect apron that would protect her eclectic fashion statement while simultaneously adding pizzazz to the layered look. The chosen apron was a flirtatious accessory, almost as saucy as the stereotypical French maid's long-handled feather duster.

La Twit donned the apron over an artistically-and expensively-torn tie dyed T-shirt that fluttered above her pierced navel. Riding on her hips was an extra layer of epidermis known as jeans. When it came to her attire, La Twit's apron garnish proved she had the capacity to plan ahead-that is if her plan was to become La Twit de la soir. Compared to her exotic costume, the ingredients for the cheesecake were mundane. Graham crackers, sugar, butter, eggs, cream, cottage cheese, flour, lemon, walnuts.

La Twit followed the recipe, precisely. Well, she cheated a little. For example, she melted more butter than the recipe called for but she grated half as much lemon rind as listed and went nuts chopping extra walnuts. These were not serious infractions and so could not be responsible for the disaster that emerged from the oven-a semi-firm pudding. Did La Twit panic? Ask me if I did.

"You told me you knew how to make cheesecake!" She smiled. La Twit had the audacity to flash that megawatt smile. "Lawdy, Miz Scarlet, ahs don't knows nuthin' 'bout makin' cheesecake!" Before I could react, she winked and reached into the cupboard.

She placed eight stemmed desert dishes on the counter. She sliced through the would-be cheesecake into the graham cracker crust and ladled each would-be wedge into a dessert dish where the crust broke apart and the cheesecakey pudding found its own level. She grabbed a can of chocolate syrup and drizzled it over the you-know-what.

Then she reached into the refrigerator for a can of real whipped cream, squirted it generously over the chocolate rivulets, and topped it all off with enough chopped walnuts to choke a horse. Everyone loved the dessert. Everyone wanted to know what it was. I looked across the table to the would-be pastry cook, demure and gorgeous in a silky turtleneck and long skirt, eager to hear how she would answer. "Prissy's Pudding," my eldest niece responded smoothly, every pore a-sizzle with sweet sophistication.

But I knew that after a good night's sleep, La Twit would re-emerge in the morning.

Mark Woeppel has been writing and eating desserts longer than most. In his day, he often dated Scarlet O'Cheesecake, who was a bit of a dish herself. Now she beguiles with her tales, both bland (well, not really) and spicy (verily). More of her stories and of course, delicious cheesecake can be found at: http://www.cheesecakestogo.biz

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