Ask me to tell you a particular, significant date in history and it's very likely that I will be hopeless. Ask me to list the Kings and Queens of England through the Tudor and Stuart period and I'll probably fall at the first hurdle. But ask me which dishes I ate at a restaurant we visited months ago and I'll be there ... and while you're at it, ask me where I first came across a particular recipe and I'll tell you without hesitation.
So, Rachel, where did you first come across the recipe for these gorgeous Chocolate Fudge Cookies?
Well, let me tell you the story ...
I've told you before how hot it gets in Dubai during July and August and how lots of people escape to somewhere cooler if they can. During our second summer in Dubai, we were lucky enough to be able to borrow a friend's holiday apartment on the border between Gibraltar and Spain for a week during July. Steve was working so it was just me and the children.
It was a perfect apartment in a development based around a fantastic swimming pool, and as the schools in Europe hadn't finished for the holidays, we generally had the pool to ourselves. What a treat ..
It was a simple holiday and we soon fell into our daily routine -
Breakfast; gather stuff for the pool (not forgetting the ever-popular ENORMOUS water guns); decide whose turn it was to press the button to open the electric garage doors on the way out (definitely a holiday highlight when you are 9, 7 and 4); wander down to the pool where Joe would give me a half-hour stroke improvement swim lesson (yes, even at 9 years old he was a WAY better swimmer than me) and then I would spend half an hour teaching Hella to swim.
After that, we would play around in the water until lunch ( I remember a lot of cheese on toast) and then we returned for more pool action in the afternoon.
I had found a big pile of foodie magazines in the apartment, so each afternoon, I would bring a few of them to the pool and sift through them, scribbling down recipes and avoiding the water jets from the ENORMOUS water guns. I was also on a mission to capture the perfect family photo of the children in action, jumping into the pool. Blimey - never did I think we would still be trying on our last day! I'm uncertain whether I was using a camera without a 'sport' setting or whether I hadn't read the manual, but boy I made heavy weather of it. We have shot, after shot, after shot of attempts to get it right ... some more successful than others - but it certainly kept us all occupied.
These cookies, it has to be said, always make me think of our lovely holiday in Gibraltar. The original recipe came from one of the magazines in the apartment - probably 'olive' or 'delicious', but either way, they are super yummy. It really was one of those wonderful trips that has left me with such funny memories that always make me smile. This was the trip when we ventured to the beach one day and inadvertently found ourselves in the nudist area. For boys aged 7 and 9, seeing old men with 'real-life bare bums' was possibly the funniest thing in the world! It was also the trip where we struggled to find anywhere that would serve dinner before 8pm (anyone would think we were in Spain!) - nutritious dinners such as heart-shaped lollies and coke resulted ....
And it was the trip where we lost the remote control for the TV down the inside of the complex 'lazy boy' armchair on our second day ... and of course, it was set on the childrens' channel. How I laughed evening after evening while watching the many and varied director's cuts of 'You've Got Mail' - the only DVD that I could find. Go on - ask me a question about the late, great Nora Ephron - I'll probably do quite well on that one too ...
Anyway, back to the chocolate cookies ... The secret ingredient seems to be the tin of condensed milk which gives a lot of bang for its buck, and, of course, using the best chocolate that you can find makes all the difference too.
The cookie mixture is very well-behaved and doesn't break up or crumble. It's also quick and easy and is the definition of gorgeous food - no fuss.
The flavour and texture are quite grown up - a rich, fudgy, decadent taste - but, having said that, my children love them too. They are at their absolute best on the day that you bake them but if you can keep them long enough, will be nice a couple of days later stored in an airtight container. They come egg-free too - which may be handy to know. They are pretty enough to be the perfect ending to dinner and look really rather professional if you wrap them in a pretty cellophane bag to give as a gift. This is high impact, low effort stuff. Go on - grab yourself a tin of condensed milk and get baking ...
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