The Sweet Taste of Christchurch
The Fudge Cottage boasts a local product "best stored in a warm tummy or a cool cupboard"
Mary-Margaret Schmidt + Jonathan Norris
Manuka honey, raspberry and white chocolate, salted caramel, whiskey, hokey pokey, apricot, ginger, Kahlua and chocolate may span across a wide range of flavors; yet, they all have one thing in common. They are available in fudge form at the quaint, locally owned, Fudge Cottage.
Nestled within small shops and cafés in the Bishopdale Village Mall, lies a shop boasting a handcrafted product that stands out to both tourists and locals, in “the chocolate capital of New Zealand.”
“But like any form of baking, [when] you put a lot of really good ingredients in, you get a good product out at the end,” Burns explained. “If you’ve got cheap ingredients you end up with a budget product. We know we are not the cheapest, but everyone tells us that ours is the best product.”
Burns has been with the Fudge Cottage for 10 years; Aileen Costin, a baker by trade, has been getting creative with her Fudge Cottage confections for 13 years.
“I used to bake and then I wanted a change from the early mornings,” Costin explained. “It was really exciting because there’s always something to do and lots of things to make. There’s lots of variety.”
The Fudge Cottage not only boasts a rotating collection of 20 fudge bars, they also offer personalized fudge logs, Swiss rolls, licorice and chocolates. Seasonal treats such as icing eggs and ornate candy houses are there too, encased in glass, calling to those wandering through the mall.
These new, modern quarters have been temporary housing for six years, since the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes. Their original home, which was destroyed in the quake, was an actual cottage in the heritage Christchurch Art Centre.
“Our old kitchen used to be in our basement and we liked going down the stairs,” Burns explained. “While we get immune to the smells, they sort of got impregnated into the timbers and the customers would come down the stairs and go ‘oh wow,’ just smelling the walls.”
The Art Centre, located on Worcester Blvd, is currently undergoing a restoration project that Burns believes will have the Fudge Cottage returning home in the next few months. Since it has only secured retail space in the restored Art Centre, a confectioner will be decorating post-production treats at the shop. When Burns receives the all clear, the Cottage will begin to phase out of its current location, but keep the kitchen permanently in the Bishopdale Village Mall, where they plan to offer fudge-making classes to interested visitors.
Classes, similar to tours, will give customers a look into the time consuming and loving process that goes into making each bar of fudge. Not only is each batch mixed, stirred, poured, cut, weighed, sealed, boxed and date stamped by hand, but the lack of preservatives and artificial coloring allows the fudge to announce to the customer, “I’m homemade.”
“It’s something we are truly proud of,” Burns stated. “Our fudge is a real handcrafted product.”
Burns is happy to send fudge anywhere in the world. While the Fudge Cottage website is geared for New Zealand deliveries, he encourages visitors to send an email and from there, he will look at different options for getting them their tasty treats.
The Fudge Cottage began in 1990 when an English woman moved with her Kiwi husband to New Zealand. She owned a traditional sweet shop in England and wanted to recreate the experience with an English-style fudge recipe. Now owned by Kevin Burns, the shop has steadily built a reputation for natural, delicious, and full-flavored treats.
“We are quite bold in our flavoring so that people can tell what it is when they eat it,” Burns declared. “There is nothing worse than when you bite into it and you go ‘well what is it meant to be?’ and it’s sort of bland.”
Burns will tell you that these bold flavors aren’t achieved with just any ingredients. Locally sourced products are top priority for this shop’s “made with love and care” treats. The manuka honey, apricots, macadamia nuts and walnuts are shipped from different parts of the country, and the milk is from New Zealand dairy farms, dropped off by the milkman.