Cooking The Books – Carla Caruso

Chef with cookbook

Welcome to Cooking The Books! Today’s guest is the super-delightful Carla Caruso and she’s talking about a food fashion that’s here to stay.  I’m not sure what we all did before someone decided it would be a great idea to throw a bunch of salt into caramel and see what happens. Turns out it’s pretty terrific. Besides having such excellent taste, Carla writes delicious rom-coms and she’s here today to share a recipe and tell us about her new rom-com mystery series!


Carla Caruso - author picSalted caramel. Who bl**dy invented that stuff? Whenever the double-trouble of a flavour is mentioned as part of some grub – from popcorn to ice cream – I have to buy it. (Cripes, I just Googled it and discovered there’s also a salted caramel martini. Talk about dangerous.) Confession: I once ate half a jar of salted caramel sauce while typing away at my computer one night.

I also know Celeste Pretty, the heroine of my new rom-com mystery series, would be a salted caramel fan. (The first book in the series, A Pretty Mess: An Astonvale Novel # 1, is out October 1, by the by!) Celeste is a neat-freak professional organiser – de-cluttering people’s homes and offices for a living – who keeps getting caught up in messy mysteries with a sexy builder (Lenny Muscat).

A Pretty Mess by Carla CarusoShe has a chin-length, honey-brown bob – so has a bit of a caramel look going on! – and wears a tonne of beige, being a classic sort of dresser. Plus, as Nigella Lawson says, having salted caramel ticks off “the holy trinity of sugar, salt and fat” in one go – and Celeste does like to multitask.

Salted caramel really is the perfect pairing. A little like Celeste and Lenny … possibly. Of course, you’ll have to read the series to find out if this is true 😉

I nicked this recipe for Salted Caramel Fudge (, below, from (Love that site!) After all, Celeste Pretty is just the type to follow a recipe to the letter. This fudge is so moreish, it’s embarrassing how many trips you’ll make to the fridge to indulge…




395g can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons glucose syrup

1/4 cup golden syrup

125g butter, chopped

180g white chocolate, finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt flakes

Salted caramel fudgeStep 1: Grease pan a 4cm deep, 20cm (base) square cake pan. Line base and sides with baking paper, allowing a 2cm overhang on all sides.

Step 2: Place condensed milk, sugar, glucose syrup, golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, without boiling, for 10 minutes or until mixture is glossy and sugar has dissolved.

Step 3: Increase heat to medium-low. Bring to a simmer, stirring. Cook, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 minutes or until mixture thickens and comes away from side of pan. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until combined and melted. Spoon into prepared pan. Smooth top. Sprinkle with salt, pressing in with the back of a spoon to secure. Set aside for 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 6 hours or until firm.

Step 4: Cut into 2.5 cm pieces. Serve.


More on A Pretty Mess: An Astonvale Novel # 1 here:

And on moi here:


Cooking The Books – Carla Caruso

Chef with cookbookNow here’s a tantalising proposition. Imagine waking up one day with wrinkle free skin, a wiser head and the ability to make at least 10% of your decisions using more than your libido. Okay, so that’s my fantasy. Today’s guest, Carla Caruso, has written a gorgeously funny story about revisiting the past and it’s been receiving rave reviews everywhere.

Carla has dropped in to tell us about Second Chance and she’s giving away a Kindle copy to one lucky commenter!

Carla Caruso - author picFood fads today seem to whir by faster than Zara putting out new collections. From “dude food” (think burgers, buffalo wings and other American junk food) to street van food and trendy Mexican, it can be hard for us civilians – and our taste buds – to keep up.

You don’t want to be the one suggesting a degustation dinner for a double date (so last year) or a low-carb bite with a mate (now carbs are apparently healthy again). Whew! Did I mention it was difficult to keep up? I blame all those reality cooking shows for making dining out so fraught with fashion faux pas.

One era when food trends seemed to move at a blissfully slower pace? The nineties! My latest release from Destiny Romance, Second Chance, is about a feisty heroine, Flora, who accidentally time-travels back to the summer of ’98 when her phone malfunctions. Along with hoping to reunite with a former love, she also finds she’s quickly back to a ‘90s-esque diet of focaccias and cappuccinos.

Focaccias… remember them?

Herald Sun cheekily dubbed the Italian baked sandwiches “a leaden carb-laden doorstop, beaten into submission by an overworked sandwich press, that was served up in city centres around the land as the height of ‘90s urban sophistication. Filled with some chargrilled vegetables and washed down with a choc-dusted cappuccino and you have the let’s-catch-up lunch of the café set, circa 1992.”

Second ChanceMy heroine, Flora, refers to the café worker, who serves her focaccia, as the bread equivalent of the “Soup Nazi” in ‘90s sitcom Seinfeld

Personally, I remember spending many a weekend with my older sister, chowing down on a chicken and avocado focaccia at Scoozi Café on hip Rundle Street. Could there be a better combo than chicken and avocado? I think not! And, hey, we have the focaccia to thank for being a launching pad for things like Turkish bread, ciabatta and sourdough locally.

Salivating yet? Well, in doing a quick internet search, I actually discovered a Melbourne eatery, Fugazza, that has, in fact, brought the focaccia back. Using artisan sourdough bread, these are baked, not pressed, creating a beautifully light, crisp crust, and filled with yummy ingredients such as taleggio and stracchino cheeses, porcini mushrooms and traditionally prepared small goods. Divine!

Of course, Melbournites probably know about this hotspot already and think I’m so 2011. But being from Adelaide, I’m half-tempted to jump on a plane and follow the tantalising scent of baking to this nostalgia-inducing eatery. Meet you there (wink)!

Find out more about Carla at

Carla Caruso was born in Adelaide, grew up amid a boisterous extended Italian family – yet somehow managed to become a bookworm…
Carla always wanted to be a novelist, annoying the kindergarten teachers by dictating long, detailed stories to them. It just took her a while to realise her childhood dream – journalism seemed a more practical course. Her media career has included stints as a newspaper and magazine journalist, government PR and fashion stylist. These days, she works as a freelance journalist and copywriter. She began seriously writing fiction three years ago when she went freelance full-time.
The romance genre appeals as she is a sucker for rom-coms (especially if Channing Tatum is in the mix) and likes to think her Italian ancestry means she lives with passion. Hobbies include watching trashy TV shows, fashion (her mum named her after Carla Zampatti!), astrology and running. She lives in Adelaide.

Website       Author Page          Twitter

You can also purchase SECOND CHANCE at:



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