My obsession with caramel is known far and wide. I accepted it long ago, probably around age 5 or 6, that this obsession would forever be engrained in me. It’s an easy truth to swallow.
When you consciously love something for a long time, it’s funny to see the evolution happen. Sugar Daddy’s, Cow Tales, 100 Grand candy bars–they were what I raided my piggy bank for and a huge contributor to my ‘husky’ size as a child. Now, I don’t blink an eye to pay $10 for a handful of well crafted caramels.
Caramel is so special to me that I’ve even given part of myself to it. Several years ago, when I was working in a kitchen in town and prepping some desserts for the day, I was severely burned by caramel. I had just finished pouring some hot sugar into ramekins for Flan and was swirling it around in the dishes when some splashed over the side and onto three of my fingers. The pain was excruciating, as one would image that 300+ degree burning sugar would be when it hits your flesh. As I waited for my chef to help me take care of it, I took my unburned hand and continued to swirl the other ramekins. I wasn’t going to see the caramel go to waste. It didn’t and thankfully, despite my injury, the dessert was saved.
That hasn’t stopped me from making my own, though the feeling of being burned still resides at the forefront of my mind whenever I’m making a batch at home. But, I don’t have to make it too often as there are so many great caramels out there that call to my more adult palate. Sweet Marguerites, of South Portland, and Fat Toad Farm, of Vermont, usually fill the void when I have a craving and no desire to turn on my stove. Sweet Marguerites is there when I want one of their salty, gooey caramel filled chocolate daisies and Fat Toad’s unique creamy goat’s milk caramel is often stirred into my coffee instead of sugar.
But, there’s a new caramel in my life, though it’s one a bit harder to procure. Stickler Chocolates, out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, makes a line of dark beer flavored caramels that are out of this world.
Using beer from Garrison Brewing Company in Halifax, the candies are soft, buttery with more depth, and a slight bitterness, than I’m used to in my caramels. Their color is so rich, that it’s hard not to think that there’s molasses hiding somewhere in the recipe. They’re bite sized pieces of what I imagine Butterbeer to taste like.
But, sadly, they’re not really available in Portland. Not yet, at least. The ones that I had were given to me and were quickly gobbled up, leaving me wanting more. Luckily, though, they are available for order through their website and are definitely something to consider when you’re looking for a gift to give a beer or sugar loving friend.