This is the easiest, most delicious and most versatile recipe. You can use any kind of chocolate. You can swirl in caramel if you like. And you can add anything that you think will taste good. I’m a purist so I always use Whittaker’s 62% Dark Cacao. But I like to play around with what I add in, changing it around each year for the Christmas treats. This year I added dried strawberries and pistachios. Last year was dried cherries and almonds, another time dried cranberries and walnuts. But just about anything will work. And if you come up with some great combos, please share!
500 g chocolate of your choice
1 can sweetened condensed milk
50 g butter (add more if using dark chocolate – I use 65 g with the 65% dark cacao – less if using white chocolate)
Nuts, dried fruits, etc of your choice, chopped – I generally add two items, ¾ – 1 cup of each
1. Melt chocolate slowly in a bain marie (a bowl over a pot of simmering water), stirring until there are no lumps
2. Remove the bowl from the heat, add butter and stir until melted
3. Add the sweetened condensed milk and stir until there are no white streaks
4. Add nuts and/or dried fruit and stir to combine evenly
5. Pour the mixture into a baking pan – I use a 20cm x 20cm x 50 cm deep Pyrex baking dish (*see tip below)
6. Refrigerate and store at least overnight
7. The fudge will be a hard block – remove and cut into serving pieces
Tip: To easily remove the block for cutting, line the dish or pan with baking paper or aluminium foil. If you run the paper or foil up the sides (use two sheets, overlapping on the bottom) you will have “handles” for lifting out. If you line just the bottom of the tray, use a knife repeatedly dipped in hot water to separate the fudge from the sides, then tip upside down to remove the block
I love baking. Well, I love cooking of all kinds, but baking is special. I love the precision required, following a recipe exactly to make sure of the perfect result. And when those beautiful cakes and tarts, breads and scones, come out of the oven looking as perfect as you hoped, what a sense of satisfaction.
I love being organised. I’m definitely a “place for everything and everything in it’s place” kind of gal. It can be so frustrating when you can’t find what you need, especially in the kitchen. Moving quickly to get everything ready, you can’t waste time looking for that garlic press, a pan, a platter, whatever you need must be easily at hand.
And counter space, okay let’s talk benchtops. One of my kitchen design signatures is loads and loads of functional work space. I like long, uninterrupted spans of countertop, with everything at hand, room to spread out and room to really WORK.
This year, for the first time in almost 4 years, I finally had that beautiful triumvirate working for me: baking, organisation and countertops. Add to that great appliances, great tunes and Christmas baking day was a slice of heaven.
All set up for making my mini banana cakes. I make them in a muffin tin (you will see it to the left of the stove, all buttered and ready to go), but they definitely eat like little cakes, not like muffins. Very light, very moist. And this year I added toasted walnuts and chocolate chips. To the right of the stove is the cooling rack where they will go as they come out of my big, beautiful oven.
It was a real treat having all that counter space available when I was really into the thick of it (see more kitchen photos here). The girls got mini muffins this year, along with the most yummy chocolate fudge. The grown ups get banana bread. I made three this year, so it was wonderful having enough space to have everything going at once!
Christmas has come and gone, New Year’s Eve a few days away and where am I on the renovation? Exactly where I wanted to be! It’s not often that can be said about a project of this size. I am almost afraid to tempt fate by admitting it, but so far, so good, with everything on track for continuing on after the break.
Product purchases have not always been smooth sailing. I never did find the white marble tiles I wanted, but I have found something even better, wait till you see the photos, that powder room will be amazing! From late November on I was ready to tear my hair out over vendors who would not return calls or emails. What’s wrong with these people, don’t they want to make a sale? But that’s okay, I found other avenues to the products I want and my purchasing is done.
The kitchen is almost complete. It has been functional for several weeks and I’m loving it! Once the new pendant lights arrive, the walls are painted, the mosaic repaired and the floors refinished, it will look as great as it functions. And it really does work so well. There’s nothing like a personalised custom kitchen to ramp up the pleasures of cooking. I highly recommend it to everyone ;-)
And the new deck is finished! We really wanted this for summer, preferably completed before Christmas, but the timing was always going to be touch and go. Waiting for the permit, waiting out the builders’ schedule on other projects, it was mostly fingers crossed on this phase. But the stars aligned and it all came together quickly, with the last nail in place within a day of the break.
My tradies have turned out even better than expected and I couldn’t be happier with my crew. My amazing builder came in under budget and ahead of schedule for both the deck and kitchen. The kitchen cabinets are built with a craftsman’s deft touch to every little detail. Everything works, no annoying leaks anywhere and so far I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a thing.
Best of all, the whole process has been pretty much painless. With good coordination in the scheduling and lots of follow up, there has been almost no down time. And we had a working kitchen of some sort for all but a handful of days. As project manager as well as client and designer, I will unabashedly take some of the credit. But there is no question that picking the right crew has been the number one key to the success of this project.
Phase 3 begins in less than two weeks. This is the really big part of the project, when my skills at organising will truly be put to the test. Stay tuned.