The best tasting food, bar none, is the food of memory. In our memories, tomatoes tasted of the sun, strawberries were bursting with sweet goodness and were always perfectly red, and no-one cooked better than (insert your favourite cook’s name here).
The reality may be somewhat more prosaic. I well remember the entire family gathered in my grandparents house around the table for a splendid birthday party tea. The table, as they say in the classics, was groaning. No one can quite remember who the party was for, but it was almost certainly for me or my sister. I was about four.
I have a perfect scene of said groaning table in my mind, a picture of generosity and abundance.
I have, unfortunately, deleted all memory of what happened next.
My grandfather, trusty axeman and arborist that he claimed to be, decided that this was the afternoon that the huge tree at the front of the house would finally come down, allowing much-needed sunlight and warmth into the otherwise gloomy house. The tree did indeed come down. It came down in the opposite direction to that which my grandfather had planned and landed on the roof, bursting through the roof tiles and through the ceiling, dislodging soot and ceiling and blanketing the entire table of goodies in a black and dusty mess.
It has since passed into the stuff of family legend. My uncle, superb comic that he was, would do a brilliant turn as he mimicked my blustering grandfather and then described the scene of utter devastation before the distressed children.
As I said, all erased from my memory. Perhaps it is just as well.
Other memories which I well recall are hazy for others. Take this no-bake chocolate slice. As a child, it was one of the very first things I learnt to cook, just a step further on from jam tarts. I couldn’t have been more than five or six when Mum taught me how to melt chocolate in a bowl over steaming water. I remember crushing biscuits, of mixing through sultanas, of the perfectly fudgey consistency it set to. It was such a popular slice, we made it countless times over many years.
Do you think my mother could remember making this slice? Not on your nelly.
Still there are worse ways to reconstruct a memory. This one involved three attempts to get it just so. Do you know how much chocolate I had to taste to get it right?
Best I erase *that* from my memory just as soon as I can.
Makes 16 to 24 pieces
175g butter; 3 tbsp golden syrup; ½ tsp vanilla extract; 3 tbsp cocoa; 1 packet arrowroot biscuits; ½ cup shredded coconut; ½ cup raisins or sultanas; 250g dark chocolate melts; 50g butter, extra
Line a 17cm x 27cm slice tin with baking paper.
Place butter, golden syrup and vanilla extract in a large saucepan and heat until butter has melted. Place cocoa, biscuits and coconut in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until the biscuits are the consistency of rice grains. Pour in the melted butter and blitz until the mixture comes together. Stir through the raisins or sultanas.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and press down firmly to cover the base of prepared tin.
Place chocolate melts and butter in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of barely simmering water to melt. Stir until smooth, then spread over surface of slice. Tilt the pan gently to let the icing coat the surface evenly, or use a palette knife to smooth the surface. Use a fork to make a wavy pattern in the topping while it’s still soft.
Chill in the fridge for 1 hour until set. Dip a sharp knife into boiling hot water, then cut the slice into 16 to 24 even pieces, depending how greedy you are.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
$8.40 for up to 24 pieces