Caramels are a special kind of confection. There is nothing better than snuggling in front of a good movie and letting a gooey caramel candy melt in your mouth. There are many different types of caramel, from sauces to wrapped treats. While the exact history of caramel is unknown, it is recorded that around or about 1650, American settlers were making hard candies in kettles. Between this time and the early 1880’s, some ingenious candy maker added fat and milk while boiling sugar and water, creating what is now known as caramel. During this time, caramels were also made with sugar beet juice because refined sugar was expensive and hard to come by. Caramels are chewy because of the heat activation between the sugar ingredients and the milk solids. This creates the caramelized flavor. Caramels are made when sugar syrup is cooked and then milk and fat is added. The mixture is heated and stirred constantly in a kettle until it becomes milky or light brown. Caramels heated further actually turn into toffees. Caramel Gets Popular During the mid 1800’s, most American candy manufacturers made hard candies, but some also made caramels. Milton Hershey’s candy making empire did not begin with chocolate. Instead, it began with caramels. His first company was Lancaster Caramel Company. Interestingly, Hershey discovered the joys of chocolate while seeking candy coatings for Lancaster Caramels. Hershey sold Lancaster Caramels in 1900 to The American Caramel Company for an unheard of 1 million dollars. In 1895, founder August Goetze began making several confectionary candies in Baltimore, Maryland. He founded Goetze’s Candy Company, another important face in the history of caramels. By 1940, Goetze’s Candy Company decided to produce only one candy. This was the undeniable delicious Caramel Cream, a caramel candy with a chewy center. Brach’s Candy is another important candy maker in the history of caramels. This company was founded in 1904 by Emil Brach. The first store in Chicago was small, and the caramels were made in the back of the store. Eventually, Brach’s began to gain notoriety for fresh and inexpensive caramels. The company then met its first retail customer, Siegel, Cooper & Co department stores. The Making Of Caramels Different types of caramels are made with the basic ingredients: milk, condensed milk, corn syrup, sugar, oil, butter, and molasses. The milk and condensed milk is what prevents caramel from turning into a hard candy. Corn syrup and molasses are used for adding to the sweetness of the different types of caramels. A fat is necessary for caramel to retain its elastic nature. In the making of caramels, gourmet candy makers use butter as it provides the best quality and taste. Most candy makers use very little butter and mix this with other fats, which is why homemade caramel and gourmet caramel tastes different from store bought caramel. Cheryl's Caramels are a perfect example. Butter caramels are probably the best of the different types of caramels. This includes caramel sauce, praline, maple caramel custard, Crème Brule, and caramelized almonds. There are hundreds, if not thousands of flavors, textures, and chewy variations in the different types of caramels. A few minutes or degrees undercooked will result in a slightly chewier caramel while overcooking will yield a harder caramel. There are also the differences in additives. One can add nearly any flavor to caramels. Chocolate, vanilla, maple, butter, creams, and so on that will create all the different types of caramels, enough to salivate any sugar lover’s taste buds. So far I've perfected 9 amazing flavors and can't wait to develop additional flavors. The history of caramels may be slightly vague, but surely some genius candy maker discovered the caramelized method almost four hundred years ago. The history of caramels has come a long way since the early American settlers. The making of caramels has helped launch some of the most well known and prolific candy makers in American history. While Cheryl's Caramels may or may not make history, I do know that folks are always pleasantly surprised when they sample and keep coming back for more...
Archive for January 29, 2014
Happy to report I'm falling into a very comfortable routine. After 3 months of selling my yummy caramels every Thursday evening at Oceanside's famous Sunset Market, I'm getting pretty good at it - but learning so much more every week! This is one of the reasons I really, really enjoy this. It's ever changing. Always meeting new people and absolutely love that Cheryl's Caramels has regular customers. These "regulars" know what flavors of caramels they want, and know they are always welcome to take a seat and rest in my booth. Every week I get more and more "regulars" and look forward to seeing each and every one of them! This week's featured "regulars" are Kevin and Ellie Mae. Thank you for your patronage! I still get a kick out of new customers when they first taste the caramel samples. Almost all develop this HUGE smile and say things like "oh my God" and "Wow! Those are so good". I really don't have to sell these caramels, as they kind of sell themselves! This week's featured new customers are Connie and Mary Ellen - Thanks so much for enjoying Cheryl's Caramels! And I look forward to you all becoming "regulars"... Now my fellow vendors are always a source of inspiration. It's fascinating to see all the different styles of "hustling" (as my market friend and pesto peddler Solomon likes to say). All the vendors ask during load out "how did you do?" and "sales were good tonight?". As Cathy, our amazing wizard market manager says; "we are like a small city". Experiencing these markets and faires from the "other side", I'd like to let you know that "yes!" - we do talk about our customers! I've always loved going to Farmers Markets and Craft Faires. I've been doing it for decades! And I can't tell you how many times I've asked a vendor "will you be here next week?", or "I'll be by later on", just so that I wouldn't hurt their feelings if I didn't want to purchase their product... Well guess what? Seems like I wasn't fooling anyone! These vendors have heard this a million times before and know that you probably won't stop by next week, let alone later on. But rest assured - they ALL appreciate your interest. They ALL are happy to give you samples (with no strings attached mind you!). And they are ALL happy that that you are enjoying your time. And it's totally okay if you don't want to buy something... You won't hurt our feelings. Were a pretty resilient lot and were truly happy to see you! Excellent news on the "big" craft fair front: Cheryl's Caramels will be offered at the Fallbrook Avocado Festival, Vista's Strawberry Festival, the Carlsbad Street Faire (which is the largest one day craft fair in the COUNTRY), the Escondido Street Faire, Christmas in July at Mission San Luis Rey and many more! I'm updating my summer calendar as the confirmations roll in. You can check it our here: http://www.cherylscaramels.com/events/ Gonna be a busy summer!
Love is in the air my friends… and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner! Time to treat your sweets to some treats! For a limited time, I’m offering special Valentine’s Day buckets at a very special price – 2 for $12. That's a $4 savings off the regular price of $8, but you must purchase 2 or more to receive the discount. I'll be selling these special little treats every Thursday evening in downtown Oceanside! MainStreet Oceanside’s Sunset Market has been a bright spot in downtown Oceanside since August 2007. This weekly gathering is more than a Farmers Market and is always a great experience for the whole family (and your dogs!). Can't make it to the market? Well, you can always order them on my website and I can deliver them to you if you are fortunate enough to live in Southern California! 2014 may hold some changes for me as I have an opportunity to use a commercial kitchen, which would enable me to participate in interstate commerce! We'll see, we'll see... Thousands of residents and visitors alike gather each week to enjoy the varied hot food offerings, and the eclectic merchandise selections. My Cheryl's Caramels booth is located on Tremont Street in the gourmet packaged food section and there is always awesome live entertainment! Look for the red and white striped awning - you can't miss it! THURSDAY EVENINGS Downtown Oceanside, 5:00 pm to 9:00 pm