a reason to eat caramel, caramel anything, edible obsession, fat toad farm, goat milk caramel, Maple's Organic Gelato, Mexican chocolate, Taza Chocolate

Edible Obsession: Maple’s Organics Mexican Chocolate with Fat Toad Farm Goat’s Milk Caramel

You want to lick your screen, don’t you? That trifecta of sugary goodness comes at the union of three outstanding locally produced products: Maple’s Organics Gelato, Taza Mexican Chocolate and Fat Toad Farm Caramel

Maple’s is at the heart of the bowl of sin, blending their already wonderful Gelato with bits of crushed up Mexican styled chocolate from Taza, of Sommerville, MA. What Taza does, traditionally stone grinding the chocolate, isn’t being done really any where else in the US. The process makes for a very unique (coarse) texture to the chocolate and concentrates the flavor, making it more intense.  Maple’s chose one of Taza’s spicy flavors (Guajillo? Chipotle? Cayenne? I’ve already tossed the empty container) and blended that in, adding a nice warming touch with the nibs of chocolate.

Warming? Who am I kidding?  It’s hot. Pretty darn hot, at that. It’s not as ridiculous as the Habanero Gelato I’ve had, but it’s up there. The Missus described her encounter with it as:
         “It’s so damn spicy.” (takes another mouthful) “But, the chocolate is so good.”  (takes another mouthful) “But, it’s so damn spicy.” (repeat until the bowl is empty)

That’s where the Fat Toad Vanilla Bean Caramel comes in. I had the ingenious idea of adding the Vermont made goat’s milk caramel to take off some of that heat and it worked, to a point.  It was thick enough to act as a barrier and the milk, itself, knocked down the heat a few notches. It was tolerable but, in the end, my mouth still felt like it was on fire. But, it’s one of those lovely pleasure/pain moments with food, that we endure because the pleasure (Maple’s chocolate gelatos and sorbettos are some of the best around town) outweighs the pain.

If you like to have your ice cream or gelato make you sweat, then look for Maple’s Mexican Chocolate flavor at a multitude of locations (from here to Connecticut). For Fat Toad Caramel, they list William-Sonoma as a seller, but I’d suggest ordering directly from their online store.

a reason to eat caramel, caramel anything, childhood nostalgia, fat toad farm, stickler chocolates, sweet marguerites

Canadian Caramels

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.